Execution, the follow through, is the hardest thing for me to do most of the time. Going into the last 6 weeks of my Dopey Challenge training cycle, my thoughts were focused on consistently telling myself that the end is near. To say I am tired is an understatement. Here I am, I’ve been training for these races for six months now. I find myself toggling between feeling like a cranky toddler and an excited runner anxiously waiting to see the fruit of my labor on race day. For those who followed my journey closely, know this was published after my races. Stay tuned for the full Dopey Challenge recap! The greatest struggle getting these last couple posts out in a timely manner has been reflection. Every since the taper started, I have been in awe that the end was near.
I walked out of these last few weeks of training feeling stronger and faster than ever. December was an amazing month of running. Prepared is the best word I can use to describe how I am feeling about the Disney World Dopey Challenge. Over the last few months, the foundation was laid. I have experimented with gear and nutrition; survived the plague, marathon training during the hot as hell summer in Louisiana, and up and down energy levels; dealt with curve balls thrown at my training plan; and busted my ass with strength training. All of which you can read more about in my first two blogs for the Dopey Challenge: Weeks 1-10 and 11-22.
Entering these last few weeks of training, nothing new was experimented with. I’ve identified my favorite clothes, socks, shoes, watch, hydration system, and nutrition. During weeks 22-28, I strictly focused on maintaining! Check the list below of my must have training gear and items. For this post I am going to switch things up a bit and just hit the highlights of the last few weeks of training. This is especially important for folks who would like to look to these series of posts to help prepare them for the Dopey Challenge. If that is you good luck with your journey and feel to reach out with questions, or to just have some encouragement along the way!
Training Week 23:
This week is a big one. There’s 42 miles scheduled with my second to last long run of 19 miles. The highlight of this week is most definitely my 19 mile run. Long runs have been hit or miss this training cycle, but this one was by far the best run I had this cycle! A few awesome friends decided to join me for segments of this run. I ran the first 7 miles with some amazing women who were kind enough to wake up for me well before the sun and run with me. After they tapped out, another friend jumped in to join me for the next twelve miles around the city. My trainer even joined us for the last couple miles (on her bike) pushing me to my limits.
After a lot of rough long runs this cycle, but 19 miles was the best. I paced at 9:34 finishing in 3 hours and 1 minute. Amazingly, the last mile was the fastest coming in at 8:45 with a bunch left in the tank. I felt strong throughout this entire run. Even once I started tiring towards the end, it was more of a mental push than a physical one.
When I reflect on this training run, I feel like everything in the days leading up to it was perfect. I was eating good all week and had a great pasta dinner the night before. I was well hydrated, and I had a great breakfast smoothie heading out to my run, packed with fruits, Nuun electrolytes, and plant-based protein! These are the weeks we wish for throughout the entire cycle!
Training Week 24:
I know I said last week was great, but week 24 was pretty damn awesome as well. In November I decided to sign up to run a half-marathon, the Lafayette Cajun Run, with my trainer and her wife. They are two awesome humans that took on the challenge of running TWELVE half-marathons in 12 months, I was joining them for their 11th. After a normal week of training runs, Louisiana was hit with a winter storm, the heavens decided to snow on us! Whomp whomp whomp! Snow in these parts is pretty much unheard of. I think my daughter was two the last time it snowed here! Oh well, the show must go on.
I went into this weekend’s half-marathon with the intentions of running it slow and steady. For me that was pacing around 10-11 minutes per mile. More than anything, I had 13 miles on the training schedule and was at the race for moral support of my friends. Then Ruthie, my trainer’s wife, said she wanted me to try to win. Well I can tell you now, I didn’t win…but I sure the hell set a personal best, finally breaking through to run a sub two-hour half (a goal I’ve had for a while now). This “training run” turned into a 1:58 half-marathon and a new PR. It was brutally cold for what I am used to on race days in Louisiana, but the cool weather made for an amazing run.
Everything about this run was perfect and unplanned. My goodness, it was so (insert explicit) cold that I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes! It took the first three miles for feeling to come back to my hands and feet! My feet sort of felt like I was running on little ice boxes. Kudos to all of you cold weather runners. After training in Louisiana’s summer, I wasn’t ready. Yet, even as cold as I was, I went out at a 8:45 pace for the first mile and managed to stay in that area for the rest of the race!
Nutrition wise, I just knew this race would be a bust because all I managed to eat for dinner was a salad and I had a smoothie for breakfast. But my energy was never an issue. I fueled with Honey Stinger waffles and chews, and I had my Nuun Performance powder in my VaporHowe flasks. I knew at the 10k mark, this was going to be a PR for me.
Training Week 25:
I walked into this week nervous! This week consisted of a “mini-dopey” and the infamous 20-mile training run! Coming off my half-marathon, I must say that my body was tired this entire week. Thursday – Sunday my miles were: 2.5, 5, 10, and 20. My intentions this week were to just let me body flow. I wasn’t pushing any particular pace. I had two strong weeks after the 19 miler and Cajun Run half-marathon. So, going into this week my confidence was solidified. I just needed to survive.
For the long run, once again, the girls got up to run with me before the sun. Lindsey and Loraine helped me through the first five, Emily jumped in for the next 10, and Loraine rejoined me to push me through the last 5 miles while Ruthie rode alongside us on her bike! No need to sugarcoat…these 20 miles hurt like a MFer, the main reason for this being some stopping during the runs. My legs hate a stop and go on long runs. If I have to run over 10 miles, I cannot stop during my runs. Otherwise, my legs stiffen up and scream at the thought of gearing up to go again.
In addition to my legs screaming the entire last fie miles, the heavens opened up on us at mile 18 and graced us with a torrential downpour. If anything, after the rain and snow day half-marathon, I am confident I was prepared for any weather Florida could throw at me!!!
Training Weeks 26 and 27, the Taper Begins:
The last couple of weeks of training were hard-earned and well deserved. After training for months, the taper was finally here. Nothing spectacular happened these weeks. Mileage was decreasing and I was taking it slow and steady. In addition to mileage winding down, I was also letting up on strength training. My last couple of strength training sessions took it really easy on my legs and targeted more core, nothing too hard and strenuous.
During week 27, I took a 90-minute hot yoga class at Magnolia Yoga Studio in New Orleans. It was glorious and amazing. At the start of this training cycle, I took a Hot Yoga class at Bikram Yoga studio here in New Orleans. My experience with that studio was less than pleasant. You can check that recap out. My time spent at Magnolia was the polar opposite. I really need to find time to incorporate more yoga practice into my training regimen. I left hot yoga feeling relaxed, detoxed, refreshed, and ready; my zen was in a good place! After Dopey I will be doing 30 days of hot yoga with Magnolia.
Week 28 Race Week:
After six months of training, I am as prepared as I can possibly be! My hopes are to merely survive the Dopey Challenge!
Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy
Set a new PR in the Marathon (on not so fresh legs)
Don’t overdo any of the first three races
Cross all four finish lines
Thank you for following along my Disney World Dopey Challenge training. The last 6 months have been interesting! Training for this has been an amazing learning experience and huge accomplishment! I can’t wait to share with you how the Grand Finale goes in Orlando. Stay tuned.
My Dopey Challenge Gear:
I love running in a good costume. My favorite is dressing up as Super Heros with my daughter. But for the Dopey Challenge, I’ve decided to stick to my favorite running gear items (I know, it’s Disney, the place where costumes should be worn). I am bringing two sets of running outfits, just in case Florida throws us a curve ball and it warms up.
For the 5k and 10K I’ll be wearing New Balance and Fabletics bras that fit nice and snug; for the half, I will be wearing my Victoria Secret Knockout bra; and for the full marathon, I will be wearing the Lululemon Enlite bra that just hugs all of the right places and does not chafe!
I found an awesome New Balance half-zip jacket at the outlet (I wore it for my Half-Marathon last month and I’m sticking with it). I also have a Nike half-zip that is great during cold days with room to warm up.
My favorite cold weather bottoms are a pair of leggings from Old Navy. I’m also bringing a pair of leggings from Victoria Secret Sport and two pairs of Lululemon leggings. When it comes to bottoms, I am a sucker for anything with pockets on the thighs!
Shoes, watch, and hydration:
Brooks Adrenaline GTS Seventeens and Ravenna 8s, Garmin Fenix 3 HR, and Nathan’s VaporHowe Hydration system.
I’m also bringing extra layers. The weather projections are temps in the thirties with long waits in the starting corrals! I am bringing old clothes that I don’t wear any longer to toss once I start to warm up. I’ll be honest, I have a stash of clothes that belong to ex-boyfriends – ADIOS!
When it comes to run clothes, I like great quality items that are going to last…and are affordable. My favorite items are from the Victoria Secret Sport collection and Lululemon…unfortunately, those items are expensive AF!!! Fortunately, I buy things when they are on sale! Shop the sales people. But most of my run clothes, which are great quality and affordable, are from Old Navy!
I’d also like to say that, I have received all of the Lululemon items I own FOR FREE! Yup, I’ve been lucky to not have to spend my money on my awesome Lululemon gear. Last year I participated in the 40/80 Lululemon/Strava challenge and received a top and bottom; did a Bra review for the local store on the release of the Elite Sports Bra; and amazingly, the Lululemon store here gave an entire outfit away to everyone who runs with a local run club – the 504th! Even if I had not received these items, I would definitely say they are worth the investment if you have the money to spend on them.
If not, or you just don’t want to drop a 100 bucks on a bra, my favorite places to shop are Old Navy, Target, and Marshall’s!