With 23.1 miles Sunday + 13.1 on Saturday I would say I am ready for Dopey Challenge – only 5 months to wait…

Just 3.1 miles short of a Goofy Challenge this weekend!  If I extrapolate out my Sunday run it would have been my beaten my 4 official Goofy Challenges quite well. Granted you run the races a bit different when you are actually at Disney World but still that is a nice confidence builder to see the continued progress.

Especially after a failed long run attempt last weekend…

Sunday’s run represented a bit of a redemption!

Last Sunday’s long run fell apart and I had to call for a pick up to get home – so I knew I wanted to get a really good long run in for this Sunday.  The schedule called for 13.1 (back to back 13.1’s with Saturdays half marathon distance run) but I figured I wanted to go further than that.

So Saturday night I loaded up my hydration backpack with Gatorade and a bunch of snacks and put a bottle of water in the fridge. And then was up and out of the house Sunday morning at 6 am with a rough plan of where I wanted to go and how far I would push.

I did the first 2 hours doing run/walk cycles of 15 minutes of running and then a minute of walking making sure to have a couple snacks during the walk breaks and drink water and Gatorade regularly. I kept my speed at around 6.1 or 6.2 mph giving me right around 12 miles at the 2 hour mark – I was making sure to take it easy and conserve energy.  The first 2 hours were done almost entirely on gravel roads and groomed gravel trails.

After 2 hours I was still feeling well but decided to switch the run/walk cycles to 10 minutes run to 1 minute walk with slightly increased snack and liquid intake. I kept up that pacing for about 1 hour 20 minutes or so with pacing a little bit slower than the first 2 hours – at the 3 hour mark I was at 17.7 miles.

At about the 3:33 mark I had made it back to my house but I was under 21 miles and felt that I wanted to push it further than that so I decided that I would push on to the 4 hour mark. Switching from 10-1 to 5-1 at around the 3:20 mark helped restore my energy otherwise I might have stopped at this point.

To hit the 4 hour mark I decided I would run out from my house until I hit the 3:45 mark then turn around and come back expecting that if I ran out 12 minutes it would take me maybe 13 or 14 coming back as I was tiring out. Surprisingly I picked up my pace on the return and it only took me 11 minutes to come back – I contribute that to the 5-1 split giving me more rest time so I could actually do a faster run pace.

This also meant that now I had 3-4 minutes to kill before the 4 hour mark – at this point I just ran up and down my street and it my driveway at exactly 4:00 with a total of 23.1 miles.

A very solid run and my legs felt great and I never once bonked or hit the wall. Interestingly if I extrapolate out to 26.2 miles I would have been my 3rd or 4th fastest marathon. Not too bad considering my walk breaks and the fact that I was deliberately not trying to go too fast.

I definitely learned some things from that run – including that the right solid snacks worked better for me and my system than gels and other liquidy fuels. I was also able to hydrate properly for a change – ran for 4 hours and was only down 3 pounds – for a guy who is 220 pounds that is not too bad a ratio for that kind of run.

I will still be experimenting more with the run walk cycles on the really long runs – I am wondering if switching out to 10-1 run/walk cycles earlier in the run would help even more. We will have to see. Lots of things to try!


  1. Bill says:

    Awesome job, Ted! You’re giving me a ton of info as I ramp up for the first time and I appreciate all the details. What types of food have been working for you?

    • Ted says:

      Thanks Bill – hope you pull something useful out my posts.

      I have tried a variety of things for food including gels, candies, cookies, etc but I tend to have stomach issues on really long runs with them. So what I tried this weekend that seemed to work well was “kit kat” candy bars and “sesame snaps”. I’m pretty sure both of those would make a lot of marathoners cringe but they worked for me.

      The kit kats were of the 2 sticks per pack type with 110 calories per pack (mostly fat and sugar) – chocolate can be atrocious later in a long run when your mouth is dryer so I had them earlier in the run. I had one pack at about an hour in (first bit of fuel besides water) and a second one at around 2 hours in.

      I don’t know if you can get sesame snaps in the US or if you have heard of them but they are essentially wafers of sesame seeds and glucose syrup that are a bit crunchy but dissolve in your mouth quickly with just a bit of liquid. They come in a small little pack with 4 wafers with a total of 180 calories (again mostly fat and sugar but surprisingly also 4 grams of protein per 35 gram pack). The nice thing with these is you can open the pack and pull out one wafer at a time to eat and they won’t melt in your pocket. I started the first of these packs at about 1 hr 20 and started a second one shortly after the 2 hour mark and had a third closer to the 3 hour mark.

      I took in no solids between hour 3 and 4 – if I had wanted to keep going after that I would have needed to keep eating.

      In the end it looks like 760 calories of food on top of whatever I got out of Gatorade. Lots of the gel packs hit around 100 calories a piece and I don’t think it would be unusual for a lot of marathoners to use 2-4 of those during a race. So I probably took in a lot more calories than a lot of runners but I am 220 pounds so it takes a lot of energy to move my mass around so it does make some sense that I should be taking in more fuel.

      On top of that eating or even having a gel will generally slow you down a bit while you get the fuel in you – so for most marathoners it will be a balance between consuming as little as possible while still finishing the race strong…but basically being drained when done. For this run I wanted to finish and still do a bunch of stuff around the house and prep for a pool party my wife was hosting that afternoon so finishing and falling into bed was not an option.

      I had also brought along a bag of roasted almonds (with salt) to try but I never got around to it during this run. I did try them after the run as a bit of a quick snack and couldn’t finish the packet. It was just too salty – I suspect then that I would have trouble on the run with them too.

      I am still wrapping my head around using solid fuel on a run so I still need to do a bunch of experimenting to get it right for me. My resources so far, as I try to figure it out, are actually from ultra-marathon sites. Those runners do a lot of solid fuel that is densely packed with calories including food that would horrify a lot of marathoners – I have heard stories of burgers, pizza, chocolate bars, etc. Still figuring it out obviously but it a whole different set of resources to look at for info.

      • Bill says:

        That’s quite a bit more information to stuff into my brain! I will look into the ultra sites. One thing I will need to leave off the list for sure is chocolate. This time of year a 5am run is at 75 degrees – Kit Kats don’t stand a chance! My last long run (18 miles) was 2 regular gels, 2 with caffeine, a few Clif Shot Bloks, 24 ounces of Gatorade and 24 ounces of water. I think I’m going through extra food and drink because of the extra heat and humidity. Thanks again for the help!

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