Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Best and the Worst of ‘15

Recapping the entire year is still on my agenda to write here, but I thought doing a best and worst post might also be interesting.

So here I am calling out my best and worst races of '15.

Let’s start with my worst race. Let’s get the bad out of the way first because I like to talk about it the least.

There is no doubt in my mind to which race this would be: Emerald Isle Marathon.

And, worst might be an understatement. I should never have started this race. Tuesday beforehand I pulled my hamstring during a speed session. The pain only got worse and not better in the few days leading up to the marathon.  

The morning of the race I couldn’t even do a stride to warm up without it hurting.

Yet, we launched off the line and I went to running 6:20s miles and some 6:10 miles through the first half of the race. As I passed 13 miles, a glimmer of hope that I might make it shined through the dark clouds but only briefly. By 15+ miles, I was done. My left leg simply shut down. It was all that I could do to drag it along. This was by far one of my lowest running points in years.

The days that followed were very painful and left me wondering if I would ever run well again.

By contrast, my Disney World Dopy Challenge was truly a highlight for me. For those that don’t know, I am huge Disney fan so getting the chance to run 4 races in 4 days was a totally awesome experience. Okay, before you say it, yes, technically, the Dopey Challenge is 4 races rather than one but you cannot talk about one without also talking about the others.

Leading up to the Dopey Challenge, my training had been nothing spectacular. There were a few solid long runs and a few decent tempos. There was nothing which would indicate what was in-store for me.  

On Thursday morning, I ran the Pluto Family Fun 5K in 18:55. The weather was cold and the wind was blowing incredible hard. No idea where I finished. They don’t produce results for the 5k. Friday morning, I ran Minnie Mouse 10k in 36:55 and finished 13 overall on a course that ran mostly through EpCot. I could have run quicker but I kept tell myself to take it easy. There is another race tomorrow.   

Saturday, it was time to get serious with the Donald Duck ½ marathon. We launched off the line and into the darkness. The crowd of runners quickly strung out. I found myself catching a few runners on the return trip to EpCot but running alone once we entered the park.

I couldn’t believe that I had run a 1:19:34 and finished 23 overall. But I was also very worried. Had I given too much? 26 miles is a long ways, and would I be up for running it the very next morning.

I had set a realistic marathon goal of breaking 3 hours. If this was a 2:59:59 so be it. After all, I am 50 years old. Slowing down is a part of my life.

Sunday morning came, and promptly at 5:30 AM the Mickey Mouse Marathon started. I settled in to a nice pace and found a great group of guys to share the pace. We ran over to the Magic Kingdom and through the park. We ran through and around the Walt Disney World Speedway. We were still bunched together for the trip through Animal Kingdom. Then, we started to separate. A few guys pulled ahead and a few dropped off our pace.

I kept looking at my Garmin and waiting on the monkey to jump on my back. Through the ESPN Wide World of Sports, I was catching a few of the guys that had pulled away from me, and I was catching a few new guys that were crashing. The green army man was yelling for me to charge that hill by Hollywood Studios. Really, did he not see the Dopey Bib pinned to my chest. Charging anything was beyond me at this point. The back stage tour of Hollywood Studios is always nice. Then, we were off to the broad walk which runs by the EpCot resorts and enters EpCot from the back side.

We enter EpCot Park just before the bridge which is a small hill but after 25 miles it feels like a mountain. But I do love running around the worlds.

We exit by the EpCot Ball and head to the finish. The music is bleary and they are calling out our names. My legs are spent but mentally I have energy to burn. My mind drives my legs to sprint with whatever I have left.

I finished the marathon in 2:50:35 and finish 23 overall.

For my efforts, I collected 6 shirts, 6 race medals, and 3 age group awards.

Going into the Dopey Challenge my expectations were low. I wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience. I did enjoy it but it was also nice to run fast over 4 days too.

If you have the running bug and you enjoy Disney, you have to do the Dopey Challenge. You will not regret it.

For the record, my Monday morning run after 4 days of racing was pretty said. I could barely lift my knees.
But it was all worth it.  


 The Cool Down Runner



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