No One Knows How Far I’ll Go - Comments Welcome


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Training Recap - 12/7-12/10 - Dopey Simulation

12/7 - Walk 3 miles
12/8 - Walk 6 miles
12/9 - Walk 13 miles
12/10 - Run/walk 26 miles

I really, really, REALLY just wanted these runs to be DONE. I wasn’t anxious about completing them - I was confident based on my previous simulations that I was ready - but I was a little afraid that something was going to come up to prevent me from doing it. Everything just seemed to be going a little too well.

I know that people have different opinions on doing the full marathon distance in training, but it was 100% the right way to go for me. Every time I upped the mileage on my long runs, the additional miles were genuinely miserable and where I would have the most trouble with my feet. So getting up to the marathon distance gave my body a chance to adjust to it in training rather than on race day. And the confidence to know that I can do it was a huge boost mentally. Plus, to be blunt, my coach wanted me to do it so I did.

The 3 mile walk was super easy. I went to the track at the gym after work and got it done.

On Thursday, I arranged to go into work late so I could get the 6 miles done in the morning. I knew that the 13 and 26 miles were going to be started in the morning so I wanted to get in as much recovery time as possible. This was a little more challenging and I burned through one of my saved podcasts to pass the time. But I felt fine afterward. Two down, two to go!

While I was willing to do the short walks inside, I really didn’t want to do the long distances on the track. Going around and around and around on the track has gotten very old at this point. Thankfully, it looked like the weather was going to cooperate. Both Friday and Saturday looked to be clear, but a little on the cold side in the mid 30’s. I prefer cold weather so I figured that I’d be fine. I dressed appropriately, but what I didn’t anticipate was the very stiff wind (and wind chill). I got about 5 miles done before heading back home to add an additional layer of a wind breaker and sweatpants, which helped out a lot. Lesson learned! Overall, the walk went well and I was a little tired, but felt pretty darn good.

I thought that after three days of walking (particularly the 13 miler) that sleep would come easily to me on Friday night, but that wasn’t how it worked out. I was awake quite a few times and then had trouble falling back asleep each time. I didn’t really get any quality sleep until after 3 a.m. All of this combined to make it hard to get up and get going in the morning. I knew that the distance was going to take a LONG time and there was only so much daylight to be had so I needed to get started early.

I had decided to run near the gym because it a) gave me easy access to a bathroom, water refills, and the indoor track if I needed it and b) there is a large block with nice sidewalks and not a lot of traffic that I could run around repeatedly. It wasn’t very interesting, but I find it a lot easier to not have to decide on a route while I’m running. The weather was similar to the day before so I started out with the extra layer which was needed when I was running into the wind and a little warm otherwise.

My legs were a lot more tired than I expected from the start, particularly considering how good they felt the day before. But I went slow and stuck to my intervals, knowing that the sole focus was on getting the distance done. It was very long and very boring. Thankfully, I had an online runDisney friend who graciously spent over two hours on the phone keeping me company. Around mile 20, things started getting hard. The wind started kicking up again, I hadn’t stayed on top of my fueling, the sun was going down, my feet were getting painful, and all I wanted was to be done. At this point, I called K and she had to listen to me whine for the next couple of miles like only a best friend can.

I also had a problem. After doing the math, I knew that I probably wasn’t going to finish before sunset. The area that I was running in wasn’t well lit and the gym was going to be closed so I could either run around the gym parking lot (which was well lit), head home and finish there, or call it close enough. With precisely a half mile left, I decided to head home and finish it in my neighborhood. I was too stubborn to not finish, but as tired as I was at that point, I couldn’t bear the thought of running around the parking lot. So I drove home, grabbed my dog, and finished. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

I felt a lot like this graphic...


My recovery after these runs was rougher than any of my other recent long runs. I was more chilled than I expected and it took me a couple of hours (and after a hot bath) to finally get warm. My feet were extremely painful (like “do I really need to get up and go to the bathroom” painful) and it took a good 36 hours before that subsided. The worst part was the exhaustion. I took a couple of hour long naps throughout the day and even then I felt like I was dragging. This isn’t unusual in the days after my long runs, but it was worse - I think compounded by neglecting my nutrition during the later stages of Saturday’s run.


All of that being said, I’m still very, very glad that I did a simulation with the full mileage. I made a few mistakes and learned a few more things that I might not have otherwise. What surprised me the most was that I wasn’t super excited to be done. Maybe it was because I was just too darn tired. Maybe it doesn’t feel real. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s taper time - and probably not a moment too soon.


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Training Recap - Ten Runs to Dopey!

Sunday, 12/11 - Aqua jogging - Recovery day
Monday, 12/12 - Tempo run - Recovery day
Tuesday, 12/13 - Rest day
Wednesday, 12/14 - Track work - 8 x 800’s
Thursday & Friday, 12/15-12/16 - Off
Saturday, 12/17 - 1 hour prediction run

I could have gone to the pool on Sunday. Although my feet were super sore, it was just aqua jogging and I could have done it - but I didn’t. Let’s just say that the energy and motivation were severely lacking. The same thing for Monday.

And this is where I have to (again) sing the praises of customized training and Chris Twiggs. On the weekly Zoom call, all I could think about was how tired I was from my simulation, but he was able to refocus me on the work still ahead. He gave me the phrase “ten runs to Dopey,” which was exactly what I needed to hear. It was waaaay too easy to skip the workouts on Sunday and Monday and, even though the runs are tapering down in mileage and intensity, I’m not at the finish line yet.

I was a little concerned about Wednesday’s track workout. My feet were mostly okay for daily activities, but they were still a little cranky at times. And I had no idea if I had the energy and the pop in my legs to hit my paces. It turned out that I had nothing to worry about. It was a tough workout, but I got it done. I upped my intervals to 30 second run/30 second walk and was able to stay there for all 8 reps, which was a great confidence booster. The feet were sore afterward, but they recovered pretty quickly which is probably the best that I can hope for right now.

Thursday and Friday were optional cross-training days, but I took them as recovery days, focusing on getting plenty of sleep.

Today was my one-hour prediction run. This workout basically asks the question “can you maintain a consistent pace without looking at your watch?” Today the answer was “not really.” It took a while for my legs to start feeling comfortable so I got progressively faster, finishing a minute and a half faster than I should have. I was doing this on the indoor track due to the weather (we got about 6 inches of snow), which might have impacted it. But I’m also having trouble finding my long run pace, which is a little frustrating because I had it nailed back in November. I can go faster, as I proved on Wednesday, or slower, as I did during my 26 miler, neither of which are going to work for Dopey. If I go too fast, I risk burning out. If I go too slow, I’m going to get in trouble with the balloon ladies. Thankfully, I have three weeks to try to figure it out.

8 runs to Dopey!


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey Training Wrap-up

Yeah, I got a little bit behind - and then Dopey happened - so now I have to try to get caught up - again! Oh, well, that’s life.

The week of 12/18-12/25 got juggled again due to the weather, which seems to be a recurring theme. The primary workout of the week was the Yasso 800’s that were scheduled to take place on Christmas Eve. As explained to me, this 10 x 800 meter workout was a prediction test of whether my fitness was ready for the time that I was going for in the marathon. Apparently, it’s a lot more art than science, but anything that boosted my confidence was worth doing IMHO. It was also going to be my last long (7.5 miles total) and hard run before Dopey.

However, by Monday, we were starting to get dire weather predictions for the weekend and this was one workout that I definitely wanted to get in. So I moved Monday’s tempo run to Tuesday and slotted the Yasso workout into Thursday. Since it was going to be a long workout (my final time was 2h 20 min), I knew that I was going to have to eat something quick and head to the gym immediately after work because, in addition to everything else, I still had Christmas shopping to get done.

The Yasso workout was hard and I made it even harder by going way too fast on the first 2-3 reps, but once I got into a groove, it got better. That being said, this workout was no joke and I was very sweaty and very spent when it was done. But I did it and the relief at the end was intense. I didn’t even want to contemplate the fallout if I couldn’t do it.

The next few days were pretty interesting - and there was absolutely no running to be done. Starting Friday morning, we had almost two full days of nonstop snow and up to 70 mph wind gusts. While we were safe at home and never lost power, it was a very stressful few days. I had to keep going outside to shovel the back steps, clear our furnace vents, and try to convince our two dogs to potty - none of which was easy. While we got relatively lucky with the previous two storms this season, we got nailed by this one and wound up with over 4’ of snow although even this was hard to measure. Due to the wind, we had some snow drifts halfway up our windows on the first floor and other areas where you could see the grass.




By Christmas Day, the snow had finally shifted south and we were able to start digging out our driveway although we weren’t going anywhere. There were 8-10’ piles of snow at the end of our street that were going to have to be dealt with before they could even think about trying to get a plow down our street. We got lucky and this happened later on Sunday night and they were able to get one lane of traffic open.



By Monday, we finished the driveway and could finally get out if necessary (which felt very good) and by Tuesday, the driving ban had been lifted and the roads were passable if not clear.

The gym was supposed to open on Tuesday afternoon and I was starting to go a little stir-crazy so I tried to head out. Unfortunately, the gym wound up not opening (it turns out that they couldn’t clear the emergency exits), but it was worth the shot. But I was able to get to the gym for a short tempo run on Wednesday and then a short aqua jogging session on Thursday.

My last run was on New Year’s Eve. It was a warm-up, 3 miles at decreasing paces, and then a cooldown. This is a workout that is more challenging to do on the track, but that’s what needed to happen since running outside still wasn’t a great idea. But I got it done and it felt fabulous. It was easy and I hit all of my paces. I did have one last tempo run on the calendar for Monday, but I was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to happen. First off, I was going to have a fairly intense day at work with a lot of “time on feet” and adding a run didn’t seem like a great idea. Second, I needed the time to finish packing since we were leaving immediately after work on Tuesday. Finally - and probably the biggest factor in my decision - was that Saturday’s run felt so good. Before Wine and Dine, I tried to jam in that last tempo run and it turned out to be a train wreck. I really wanted to wrap up this training cycle on a high note so that’s what I did.

Finally, it was 0 runs to Dopey! Let’s go!


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - Travel Day, Tuesday, January 3

In previous years, we have been able to travel to Orlando on an o’dark thirty nonstop flight on Expo morning and it has always worked out well. However, for some reason, this year Southwest did away with that flight so we could either take a connecting flight on Wednesday morning or a nonstop flight on Tuesday night. While Tuesday night had a lot of upsides (nonstop, cheaper, the security of being in Orlando earlier), the downside was that I had some 100% non-negotiable work commitments throughout the day on Tuesday that needed to be wrapped up before I could get on a plane. I had talked things through with my boss before I booked the flight and she approved it, but I was still stressed by it. Add in Southwest’s well-documented holiday meltdown and I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about how the day was going to go.

In the end, everything could not have gone smoother. I was able to get a head start on things at work since, due to the blizzard, we were close to the public all of the previous week. By the end of the day on Monday, I was pretty confident that I was in good shape at work. K was supposed to get to Buffalo around 2ish (she had about a 4.5 hour drive to get here) and I hoped to leave work around the same time, which is what actually happened.

We got to the airport easily, got dinner, and our flight was just about perfect. I’m very glad to have that done! Getting the rental car was an experience - we had a Budget agent who believed in the hard sell, the first car was dinged up to the point where we declined to take it, and the second car was a hybrid with a check engine light on - which took way longer than it should have. We didn’t get checked in to our hotel room at Universal’s Dockside hotel until 11:30 p.m. and both K and I had things for the next day that we needed to get done before going to bed so lights out was around 1:30 a.m. So much for going into things well-rested!**

**Just a side note on this - I had planned for Monday night to be pretty low-key. I was fairly well packed by then with just a few things on my to-do list. There was also a Bills game on Monday night football so I figured that I could tie up loose ends and watch the game at the same time. And almost everyone knows how that turned out. Bills player, Damar Hamlin, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field in the first quarter. I was watching the game when it happened and it was very, very scary as it was immediately obvious that something very bad had just happened. My leisurely evening turned into watching for any bit of news and a lot of praying. Thank God it appears that there will be a happy ending! Buffalo has had a pretty rough year with the mass shooting at the Tops market, three crippling/deadly snowstorms so far this winter, and now this. We may be Buffalo Strong, but this city could also use a break.



DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - Expo Day, Wednesday, January 4

We had planned on getting up in time to get to early entry at Universal - and that didn’t happen. We needed to get packed up since we were changing hotels (staying at Dockside saved us over $70 for that one night), get breakfast (since we still hadn’t gone shopping), and drive to the park. The plan was to hit the parks for a little bit and then head directly to the Expo once we got closer to our queue time. I grabbed a VQ spot while we were finishing up breakfast and got #71 with a predicted return time around 1 p.m. Not great, but whatever!

Since we completely missed early entry (which was at Islands), we headed to the Studios side. The crowds were building pretty quickly so we stuck to some lower tier rides and then hit up the Animal Actors show. Coach Chris had strongly recommended taking it easy/not hitting the parks hard before the races and with K’s injury and me doing Dopey, we were trying our best to follow those instructions. We left the park around noon.

We got to the Expo and headed directly to get our bibs. K was running the 5K on behalf of Give Kids the World** and had trouble signing that waiver/getting her Expo pass for that race. But she was able to do her 10K waiver no problem. Gotta love Disney’s IT! So she had to work that out at bib pick-up. I headed the other direction to get my Dopey bibs. I was frustrated by the long line to get into the building (although it wasn’t the crazy long line that others reported a couple hours earlier), but once we were in the building, everything was accomplished fairly quickly. I was just finishing up when our merch VQ was called so we headed off in that direction next.

Side note: It was shortly after I got my bib that I had a lightning bolt moment of “OMG, I’m really doing Dopey!” It was a mixture of excitement combined with a good dose of nerves.

The Disney merch area was a little bit crazy. I grabbed my Dopey magnet and medal replica pin since I get those for every race weekend. Then I found the Dopey “I Did It!” shirt fairly easily as they were still well stocked in various sizes. Initially, I was really disappointed to find that there were NO Dopey jackets left. I kept looking around, thinking that I was missing them. But no, they were completely gone. I have the worst luck with race weekend jackets - either they didn’t have the right size or they didn’t fit or they were sold out - and all I wanted this year was a race jacket. The good news was that I really liked the design of the Marathon Weekend jacket. The women’s jacket had a weird gather to it (this is the second or third time that I’ve had this issue, why on earth does Disney do that?), but I was happy with the men’s jacket. It took an insane amount of time to pick things out, try them on, and make final decisions. I don’t remember what time we finally left, but we had to have been in there at least an hour.

Then it was back to the vendor building to get K’s shirts, do some more shopping, and do some socializing. This was, by far, the best part of the Expo experience for me. I didn’t find too much to buy (I got a few additional packets of Sports Beans, but that was about it), but I had the best time chatting with online friends. K was very nervous about her races (kind of like I was at Wine and Dine) and everyone just kind of enveloped her with a lot of support and great advice. Never mind that it was the same things that I had been trying to tell her for weeks, but whatever works. K was also introduced to the beauty of KT Tape, which took some time. By the time we left, it was after 3:30 p.m. and by that point, my feet were starting to feel cranky.

We did a grocery stop on the way back to Cabana Bay, which would be our home for the rest of our trip. We got checked in and unpacked with little drama although man, we had A LOT of stuff. Then we did take out from the food court for dinner and got organized for the next morning. By the time we started to wind down, it was already almost 9 p.m. I was not looking forward to the next day’s 2:30 a.m. wake-up call.

**I don’t know if I mentioned the story behind K’s 5K bib. Since it’s a good one, I figured that I’d add it here. Back before that fateful MW registration day, K was going back and forth about whether she wanted to do the 5K or the 10K. Finally, she decided on the 10K, I got her registered, and all was good. Or so I thought! A couple weeks after registration day, we were talking and she mentioned “both of her races.” Wait, what? Apparently, there was some miscommunication and she thought that she was registered for both the 5K and the 10K. Then she asked the question that almost made my head explode - “well, is it too late to register for the 5K now?” She was lucky that she was over 200 miles away at that point. Did she not remember my registration day rant? Anyway, now I was on the hunt for a 5K bib. I contacted a couple of charities and waited to see what would happen. At the beginning of June, I happened to see on Facebook that Give Kids the World had a bunch of bibs available for all of the races and grabbed one for her. It added a little bit of extra pressure in the fall with the realization that “uh-oh, we actually have to do the fundraising for this bib,” but I baked A LOT of dog cookies which combined with some donations from friends and family got us to our goal.


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - 5K Day, Thursday, January 5

I was pretty relaxed about this race. I knew that it was going to be a slow stroll through the park and that I had a lot harder things to do that weekend. Still, there was a special sort of nervous excitement while getting ready that morning. I was ready to rock and roll.

K, on the other hand, was pretty nervous. I’ve known her for almost 40 years and what I failed to remember is that when she gets nervous, she procrastinates and gets disorganized. So in the end, it took us A LOT longer to get out of the door than I wanted. For the 5K, it wasn’t a problem, but I took mental note and planned for this on subsequent mornings.

The drive to Epcot was smooth and we got parked without issue. Then we ate breakfast in the car before putting our bibs on and stashing a few things (ID/credit card, headphones, phone, etc) in our pockets. For the second year in a row, I decided that I didn’t need to use my Nathan belt for the 5K. Last year, this decision caused a problem when I managed to lose my driver’s license before Mile 1 of the 5K. Miraculously, someone found it (I have no idea how in the dark) and I got it back. But this year, I made sure to bundle everything together (including the rental car key) and pinned it to my pocket. Lesson learned!

We got to the reunion area early enough to do some socializing before heading to the corrals. A lot of the crew was going to start in Corral D and walk together. It sounded like a lot of fun to me! However, K wanted to start in our assigned Corral C so that’s what we did.


Side note: K had a VERY rough training cycle for these races. When she signed up for the 10K, she was doing very little exercise outside of walking her elderly dog. She put in A LOT of effort, building up her walking duration and pace and then starting to run/walk. She joined Customized Training in September (while at the same time moving and starting a new job) and shortly thereafter, she started having issues - first with an ankle that she broke years ago and then with bursitis in her hip. It was the perfect storm - standing for hours at her new job in the wrong shoes, trying so hard to do every workout, limited options for cross-training, probably pushing for too much speed too soon on her runs. When she was too sore to run, she tried going to the pool more often, which caused the hip pain to get worse. She finally got in to see a physical therapist, but not until the end of November. She was extremely limited with what training she could do for almost two months leading up to the race. Her PT wasn’t sure what she would be able to do, but gave her permission to try. Her situation was eerily similar to what I went through during last year’s Marathon Weekend. For me, at times, it was a delicate balance between supporting K’s efforts while making sure that I didn’t compromise my own races.

The race itself was unremarkable. We walked. We talked. We took scenic pictures. We had a good time jamming to the background music. There weren’t any characters that I was particularly interested in waiting in line for (this theme would continue all weekend - I wound up not waiting for a single character). I tried to let K set the pace, but I remember feeling like I was pulling her along for the first mile as it was hard for me to slow down enough.



After the race, we went back to the hotel and decided to head to the hot tub, which felt pretty good. Then we went to the park (I think we went to Islands of Adventure). We focused primarily on some of the low-key (and low wait rides) and actually got quite a bit done before the crowds started to build. We still kept it a fairly short day, returning to the hotel for a mid-afternoon nap (for me) and work session (for K). The evening was dinner, several times around the lazy river (my favorite part of Cabana Bay), and another dip in the hot tub before prepping for the next day. We finally got to bed at a reasonable time (I think the lights were off by 8), which was a good thing because things were about to get real the next day when the balloon ladies appeared.


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - 10K Day, Friday, January 6

The alarm went off at 2:15 this morning, having been adjusted back from the previous day to get us a little bit more wiggle room in the schedule. Things also went marginally better because we were getting more practice at it.

After much discussion (going round and round - and round and round), K and I came up with a plan for the 10K. K knew that she was potentially going to have trouble with the pace, due to her injury and being undertrained. This created a dilemma. The plan all along was to do this race together so that I could help her out. In essence, I was supposed to be her pacer. However, because of Dopey, I needed to finish the race and couldn’t risk getting swept. So the question was whether to

  1. Start with K and have both of us try to maintain a defined pace. If/when she couldn’t maintain that pace, I would go ahead. This plan would make it difficult for K to start out slow and bank energy for the end. It also meant that I would probably be leaving her alone later in the race when she would likely need my support more than at the beginning.
  2. Have K start ahead of me (her getting the very front of the corral was the one firm part of either plan) and I would catch up to her. Then we could stay together as long as possible (hopefully to the end). The upside of this plan was that I could do the runner math (monitoring our pace/location and that of the balloon ladies) later in the race when it would become more important. Also, K could start out slow and get properly warmed up at the beginning. The downside was that I was intentionally giving up some of my corral position and that we wouldn’t be able to wait together in the corral.

What I definitely didn’t want to have happen was for me to get caught by the balloon ladies and then have to keep up with them to the finish. That was too risky for my taste.

In the end, we decided to go with Plan B and hope that we didn’t have to make difficult choices later in the race.

As soon as we got to Epcot, we ate, quickly got ready and headed out. I like running in the chilly weather so the forecast for the 10K was virtually ideal running weather for me. That being said, I was very grateful for the mylar blankets and gloves as we headed towards the start. K immediately headed for the corrals while I hung out with the crew for a little bit. The vibe was definitely a little more serious than the day before. Soon it was time to head to the corrals.

The start of this race felt very easy. I usually have a hard time with the first mile of any race, but I was able to get in the groove with my intervals and a reasonable pace without any trouble or discomfort. I wound up starting about a mile behind K, which actually got me wondering whether I had given her too much of a head start. K had already passed Mile 2 before the balloon ladies even started and I knew at that point that, absent the wheels completely falling off, she was going to be able to finish. Now I just needed to put my head down and catch up to her. I liked this concept A LOT! It took my mind off my pace and made the running feel even easier. I wasn’t pushing for speed (I was well aware of the fact that I had many miles left to run that weekend), but I was very comfortable. Also, the weather was just [chef’s kiss] perfect for my taste!

I finally caught up with K right before Mile 4. She had been texting me as she passed characters and other landmarks and then I texted her back as I passed them. I wasn’t doing the math at that point, but I kind of knew when I was getting close. Our text chain at this point was kind of funny and I actually wound up getting ahead of her for a couple of minutes.

We walked together for the last two miles and it was a lot of fun. K was a lot more relaxed - and in a lot less discomfort - than during the 5K which made the walk through the World Showcase (this time just as the sun was starting to rise) a lot more enjoyable. And the balloon ladies were never an issue!





[My absolute FAVORITE photo from this whole weekend because I'm running - and I'm smiling]

As we entered the final stretch to the finish line, K and I decided that we were going to run it in and it felt so good to welcome K across that finish line. I was so proud of her! She overcame a LOT of physical and emotional hurdles to complete this race and she definitely earned her medal.



Side note: In spite of everything, K learned to love running during her training. In the past, running was something that she did periodically because I was doing it and she was a great friend who came along for the ride. She always said that “she couldn’t really run” due to a knee injury in high school. But this time she really learned to use run/walk/run and found that not only could she run, but that running could also be enjoyable. I knew that she was hooked when we did that 5K together back in July when she started planning her future races. And after the Marathon Weekend 10K, she was on the ultimate runner’s high. I don’t know what she’s going to decide to do in the future, but I know that she has some thoughts. Selfishly, I’m hoping to convince her to do a Disney half marathon with me. Since my running journey started with the goal of running down Main Street and through the castle - and she’s been waiting there for me on Main Street for every race - being able to do that run together would be very, very special.

One big miss by Disney was not having mylar available for the runners after the 10K. I loved the temperature during the race. I hated it once we stopped and were making that long, slow walk to the car.

We got back to the hotel and hit the hot tub again. Then we had just enough time to shower, change, and head back to the Expo for the Customized Training Program meet-up. K and I were both looking forward to meeting the people that we’ve come to know so well through the weekly Zoom calls. And K got a chance to show off her medal! As was rapidly becoming the pattern for MW, once we started socializing, time just flew. I think we wound up standing around for well over an hour. Okay, it wasn’t the best idea for a bunch of runners who had a lot of miles left to run, but it was worth it. Where else can you talk to runners who speak the same language and never get bored hearing about past runs and plans for future ones?

When we finally dispersed, K and I headed back into the Expo building. When we were there on Wednesday, the one thing that we hadn’t been able to do was meet Jeff Galloway and K really wanted to meet him, having heard how much I enjoyed the experience at WIne and Dine. It was definitely worth it as Jeff was as positive and uplifting as always!


Before we left, K wanted to head back to the Disney merch building. On Wednesday, she had bought an “I Did It” shirt for the 5K, but didn’t pick up anything for the 10K because she really didn’t think she was going to finish. Thankfully, she was able to find the shirt that she wanted.

We spent the rest of the day hanging around the hotel room. K was tired and sore from the race and I was more than willing to conserve my energy for the next two days. This is such a valuable lesson that I learned from my 2022 Dopey attempt. In the past, I might have felt like I “should” do something. But I learned that just hanging around and staying off my feet was not only okay, but something to aspire to. I can’t tell you what we did, but I know that it was very boring and low-key. Getting to bed at a “reasonable” time was getting easier each night.


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DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - Half Marathon Day, Saturday, January 7

Wake-up call was at 2:15 a.m. and we were really starting to fine-tune the routine at this point. This time I prepared a little better for the cooler morning temperatures. [P.S. This turned out to be completely unnecessary. I decided to stick with just the mylar at the beginning and Disney decided to bring out the mylar for the race when it really wasn’t needed. Gee, thanks, Disney!]

We parked, ate, and headed towards the reunion area pretty quickly. I wanted to get as close to the front of my corral (D for the half and full) so I didn’t linger, choosing to head directly to the corral. I knew that it probably wasn’t as crucial for the half, but I also didn’t want to take any chances either.

My first real set of nerves set in while I was waiting in the corral. My stomach started grumbling which had me concerned because a) I had no idea what could have caused it as I’d been pretty careful to follow my routine and b) I really didn’t want to contemplate what it would take to leave the corral at that point. Once I realized what was causing it, I refocused on relaxing. I put on the most recent Rise and Run podcast episode (I had intentionally saved it to use as a treat if things got rough during the races) and settled in to wait. About fifteen minutes later, I look up and Greg and Allie from R&R are about two rows in front of me. The universe definitely does have a sense of humor - and a tendency to give us what we need when we need it. Once we finally started moving, I caught up with them and another CTP-er and we chatted up to the start line. By the time we started, my stomach was completely settled and I was ready to roll.


This half marathon course is, by far, the runDisney course that I am most comfortable with. I’ve run four out of my five half marathons on this course. I know the good, the bad, and the ugly (looking at you, cone alley). It might not be the most exciting course, but it is fairly consistent. And it goes down Main Street and through the castle! You can’t get better than that.

This run was just about perfect. Again, the temperature was in my favor and I settled into my intervals pretty easily. The hardest part was actually dialing in the conservative pace that I wanted to go (16 minutes per mile) and not going too fast.

[Spoiler alert - overall, I did stay on pace, but only because I took my time going through the Magic Kingdom and then I intentionally adjusted my intervals to slow down at the end.]



Running up Main Street felt amazing. K was there, which is always a special moment.


Running through the castle was not so much fun. The crowding was absolutely insane and everyone was just shuffling along. Also, the lines for photos in front of the castle were way longer than I was willing to wait so I settled for a selfie.



I also got to grab a hug from an “online” friend around mile 7, which was a great boost while going through cone alley.

During the race, I stayed very much “in the moment” and focused on following the plan and enjoying what I was doing. Looking back, this race still makes me smile. The first two races of the weekend were all about K and I adjusted my pace to hers. And the marathon was all about finishing. This race was about the joy of being able to RUN. I was healthy and I was well-trained and this was just a celebration of that. The difference between this race and what I went through in 2022 was amazing.



I went into recovery mode immediately post-race. As soon as I got to the reunion area, I found a piece of fence to get my feet up, got my compression socks on, and got some food in my stomach (the animal crackers in the race box were a perfect post-race snack - the only day that they made it back to the hotel was on Sunday). I still felt great, but I also wasn’t going to take any chances.

When we got back to the hotel, I settled in for a hot bath with epsom salts, ate some leftovers from the fridge (our grocery trip and the food court served us well this trip), and took a quality nap. I told K that she was welcome to go to the parks if she wanted (the one major perk of staying onsite), but she also wanted to stay off her feet plus she had some computer work that needed to be done.

Mid-afternoon we made the trek back down I-4 to Disney Springs for the Rise and Run meet-up. I had such a great time hanging out in November and I was excited to get a chance to catch up with everyone. And it definitely didn’t disappoint. The best part is that I was able to stand around, talking, and I felt fabulous. K kept saying “are you sure you shouldn’t be sitting down?” and I kept assuring her that I felt fine. I think that I could have stayed for the rest of the day, but finally K was like “you need to get off your feet, you need to eat, and then you need to get to bed.” Of course, she was right, even if I didn’t want to hear it.

We got some food at Polite Pig. I loved their food in November so I definitely wanted to go back and thankfully, K agreed. The food was fabulous (I got the meatball appetizer and a side of mac and cheese, both of which were heavenly), but I was cautious to not overeat. I didn’t want any issues the next morning, particularly since the food was so rich.

We went back to the hotel, got ready for the morning, and headed to bed. One benefit of Dopey is that, as nervous/excited as I was about the next day, it was still very easy to fall asleep. Three mornings of stupid early alarms will have that effect!


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - Marathon Day, Sunday, January 8 - Part 1 of 2

After a full year, I was back at this point. It was MARATHON DAY!!! On one hand, I was very, very nervous about this race. But on the other hand, I felt comfortable about the hard work that I had done. I just didn’t know - it was impossible to know - whether it would be enough.

I was also pretty nervous about the predicted weather. While the previous two days had been picture-perfect (at least for me), Disney raising the yellow flag on the race (less than ideal conditions) definitely got my attention. The Wine and Dine half had been so incredibly miserable that I couldn’t fathom running in similar conditions for the marathon. In fact, on Saturday, I had tried to negotiate a change of race strategy with Chris. The plan was to start out slow and save energy for the end. I was wondering if I should go out a little faster (based on how I felt during the half, I thought it was possible to adjust my ratios to pick up the pace) and try to get as far as I could before the sun came up. He said no, stick to the plan. Looking back, the attempted negotiations make me chuckle because there was no way I was going to win, but at the time, I wasn’t happy with the answer that I was getting. In the end, it came down to whether I trusted Chris - and I did 100% - so I stuck with the plan. And spoiler alert, Chris’s plan was the right one (like there was ever any doubt).

For the fourth day in a row, the alarm went off way too early. Getting ready was easy. I knew precisely what I needed to do and had a routine. We got to Epcot easily, ate and then made the last long walk through security to the reunion area. My goal was to get as close to the front of the corral as possible so I was in a hurry to head out.

I wound up getting pretty darn close to the front of the corral (I think I was in the second or third wave) and settled in for the long wait. I didn’t feel like doing much chatting with other runners, choosing to just put on my music and try to drown everything else out. Looking back at my text messages, I found one that I sent to K that just said “I’m scared” and that was the most honest representation of what I felt. I had no idea how this run was going to go. Chris kept using the saying that the race is graduation day, but at that moment this race sure felt like a life-altering final exam.



The first miles around Epcot went better than I expected. It usually takes me a mile or two to really feel comfortable, but I settled into my intervals pretty quickly and my pace was good right from the start. One theme that set up fairly quickly for me was that I was running with friends. Each one was completely by happenstance and usually not for long (the slightly unusual 10 second run intervals that I used for the first half of the race weren’t especially conducive to running with anyone), but the number of people that I knew surprised me and each one was an amazing boost.



K stayed by the start line until I came around the second time and then was going to head to Main Street. She was a trooper, serving not only as my personal cheer section, but also carrying a bunch of additional nutrition and Tailwind to get me through the second half of the race. However, she caused me a few minutes of panic around mile 8ish when she texted me that she had just run into Jeff Galloway near the finish line and that he wished me luck. I interpreted that to mean that she hadn’t left Epcot yet and I immediately tried to figure out what I was going to do if she didn’t make it to the Magic Kingdom in time. My biggest concern was the Tailwind because that was the one thing that I didn’t have any extras of with me. Thankfully, K clarified that she had just left the TTC and was on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom when she sent that text. Crisis averted!

The right hand turn on to Main Street is always amazing, but I’ve never experienced anything like the marathon experience. The roar of the crowd was insane! Looking back, I wish that I had taken a little bit more time to soak it in, but I was worried that there would be another logjam at the castle and didn’t want to give up too much time to the balloon ladies. Also, I had seen online - unfortunately after Saturday’s race - that they were allowing people to ride the teacups. That ride holds a special place in my heart from my first trip to Disney World with my grandparents and I totally would have done it on Saturday. I thought about it for about 30 seconds during the marathon, but I quickly talked myself out of it. There was too much running left to do to take any chances.


As I was leaving the Magic Kingdom, I was passed by the 6:45 pace group and had another decision to make. Chris’s instructions were emphatic “if you get caught by the 7:00 pace group, stay with them, do NOT let them go.” In our text exchange on Saturday, I had asked whether I should try to join the 6:45 group when/if I saw them and he said that I could try to hang with them if I felt good at that point, but not to worry if I needed to let them go. I decided to give it a shot even though it meant both changing my run interval to 15 seconds and speeding up. I stayed with them for less than a mile. I could feel that it was unsustainable and let the group go. It was way too much effort way too early in the race. I was still staying under the 16 mm pace with my 10 second run and felt really good doing it so I didn’t want to mess with success.

I have to admit that I didn’t have a good idea of what to expect from the second half of the race. The first half was on familiar roads, but I was running pretty blind for the rest of the race. The good thing was that I was able to find shade for quite a while on the road to Animal Kingdom. That and the clouds were a blessing. I also alternated between my music, a previous Rise and Run podcast with Brittany Charboneau, and an audio book (Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin) which really helped pass the time. Somewhere along the stretch I could also feel my run pace starting to slow so I bumped my run time to 15 seconds which kept the overall pace pretty steady and easy.

One big miss by Disney (and which I think hurt me later) is that the first banana station was completely cleared out by the time we got there. I still had fuel with me, but at that point, I really would have liked something different. And then at the next medical tent they were completely out of biofreeze. It was like “really, Disney?” At that point I was probably about a mile-ish ahead of the 7 hour pacer so there were still A LOT of runners behind me. Running out of these things that early was kind of a rookie mistake. I wound up giving another runner the emergency biofreeze packet that I had with me as she seemed in some pretty serious pain. Thankfully, I was still feeling pretty good at that point and wasn’t concerned that I would need it.

The stretch between Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach was long and boring, but tolerable. I used some of the cooling tricks that I learned during Wine and Dine (apparently my experience with that god-awful heat and humidity did come in handy) and I was moving well and keeping up with my intervals. I was telling myself “these are the miles that you’ve been training for” and that kept me going.


Just before we made the turn towards Blizzard Beach, there was a timing mat which I hoped would give me an idea of where the last pace group was. I was still hitting every mile below the 16 mm pace, but I really wanted a firm number on how much time I was ahead - and at that point I was completely unable to do any sort of math. (Hey, I’m a historian and we don’t do math well on a good day, let alone at mile 20+ of a marathon). I was just leaving the BB parking lot (which I didn’t find as horrible as some people said it was) when I got the text update. The pacers were over 16 minutes behind me! I knew at that point that I was going to finish this race and the relief was incredibly intense. I felt like I had spent all of the race to that point running away from the balloon ladies and now I just needed to keep moving and finish this thing. If only it were going to be that easy…

I don’t know if it was that emotional release or just the accumulation of the miles or what, but as I came down the road towards Hollywood Studios, I hit “the wall” HARD! It came out of nowhere and all of a sudden, I was like “I can’t keep doing this.” There was no real physical issue (although now I suspect that missing that banana stop had started me down the road of underfueling. I stopped eating and was relying solely on my Tailwind, which just wasn’t enough). My legs were tired, but I wasn’t in any severe pain. My cardio conditioning was holding up. But my brain was screaming at me and I was in trouble. At that point I reached out to my “guard rails” for help. First, I called Chris and wound up leaving a voicemail. Then I called K. Have I mentioned that she is the bestest best friend ever? She just listened to me whine and cry and probably not make a ton of sense. She was just there when I needed her most. Looking back, I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her because there wasn’t a darn thing that she could say or do to make it better.


Side note: I was someone who has always thought that chocolate can never be a bad thing. I was very, very wrong. I was talking to K when I got to the chocolate stop. I thought that maybe some sugar would help me feel better so I made sure to grab them. The one square that I ate was like a wad of chewing gum in my mouth that I couldn’t swallow. It tasted terrible. No more chocolate during a race for me!

K talked me through the hot second that I spent in Hollywood Studios. I started feeling slightly better at that point (maybe the chocolate did help) so I told her that I would see her at the finish line. Around this same time, I made the decision to adjust my intervals. I didn’t want to start walking because I just wanted to be done - the sooner the better - and walking was only going to prolong things. But the constant transitioning from run to walk was wearing on me - mentally more than anything. So I started what is affectionately called “Gwinning” among CTP-ers. It is a longer walk interval (usually 2 minutes) with a short spurt of running (usually 30 seconds) thrown in. It’s an energy conservation strategy and I figured that it was worth a try. And it worked out really well. I could hold the run for 30 seconds and 2 minutes was long enough of a walk that I was more than ready to go when it was up. My pace started inching upwards at this point, but I knew that I was going to be okay.

Side note: Chris called me back right around the time that I entered Epcot and the difference in my mindset was a complete 180 from where I had been. I’m sure he understood why I called, but at that point, I was like “I’m okay, I just need to get to the finish line.” It was amazing how much could change in 20 minutes.

(Continued in next post)
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DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey 2023 Recap - Marathon Day, Sunday, January 8 - Part 2 of 2

The end of the race was a haze and I was focused on keeping one foot in front of the other. I kept telling myself “I know I can do these miles because I’ve already done them.” I know that the Galloway method of going up to a 26 mile long run is controversial, but the knowledge that I had already done these miles once - and that my body knew what they felt like - was an amazing comfort.


The only thing that disappointed me was that I never got to see Jeff Galloway. I don’t know if I completely missed him (which was completely possible at that point) or if he wasn’t out, but that was the one “character stop” that I really wanted to do. Run/walk/run was such an integral part of this journey and it would have been the icing on the cake to be able to thank Jeff at that moment.

The finish line experience was unbelievable. I was so exhausted at that point, but I was still running 30 second intervals. That was just crazy! If anyone had told me that in advance, I never would have believed them. After so many ups and downs, this was it. I wanted the “perfect” finish line photos, but what I got were the most honest ones as I was in tears at that point. I had gone “all in” on this goal. I had done all of the hard work. I had pushed myself so far outside my comfort zone. And it was 1000% worth it!


Up until this year, I would never have called myself a runner. Now I was not only a runner, but I was a marathoner - and I will wear that title proudly for the rest of my life!


Once I stopped running, my whole body started into an “I hate you” spiral. My feet started chirping pretty badly and I just wanted to get to the reunion area so that I could sit down. I cursed Disney (repeatedly - at least in my head) at making that walk so incredibly long. Who thought that this was a good idea?

As I exited the runner area, Bob and John from Rise and Run were waiting and seeing them was the perfect ending to my race. No one ever gets to the finish line of a marathon by themselves. The “gang” - and the wonderful, amazing, fabulous community that they’ve created - helped get me here and I was glad that I got to celebrate with them.



As much as I would have liked to have hung around with them, I desperately needed to get off my feet. I headed over to the same area as the day before and let’s just say that getting down to the ground was “interesting.” (Can someone explain to me why Disney insists on having no place to sit in the reunion area?). K found me shortly thereafter and I took about 15 minutes or so to eat (I think I ate the banana and gave K the rest of those offensive chocolates), switched over to my compression socks, and got my feet vertical.

At this point, I commend the hardest working people - the medical staff. I was sitting near one of the medical tents and they were taking great care of everyone. As I was seated with my legs up, one of them came over to check on me (thinking that I was dizzy, maybe?) and could not have been nicer. I saw several other instances of them taking great care of runners.

Finally, I peeled myself up off the ground and we headed out. Getting moving was hard and painful. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous year, but it wasn’t pretty either. My feet had held up so well for 48.6 miles, but they were telling me in no uncertain terms that they were D-O-N-E.


I spent a lot of the afternoon in damage control mode. After taking a bath and eating, I had hoped to watch the Buffalo Bills game until I fell asleep, but I had trouble getting comfortable so the sleep never happened. Right after the race, I thought that my feet were just going to be cranky for a while and then recover. Unfortunately as the day went on, they got worse and I began to realize that recovery wasn’t going to be quite that easy. But I did get to the point where I felt good enough to head to the parks. One of my all-time favorite things is Universal’s Cinematic Celebration and that was what I wanted to do that night. We were both moving slowly (K had actually aggravated her injuries more while watching than actually doing her races), but we still had a good time, enjoying a leisurely evening where we didn’t have to think about getting up at 2 a.m. the next morning.
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Oct 15, 2015
Love every bit of this. You earned that whole experience through your perseverance and dedication. Amazing!



DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016


DIS Veteran
Apr 19, 2016
Dopey Recap - Monday, January 10 & Tuesday, January 11

I felt like we tried to cram the entire “vacation” part of the trip into this day and a half.

First off, surprise, surprise, I was awake at 2 a.m. This was a problem because as soon as I was awake, my body started reminding me that it was still unhappy with me, which made it very difficult to get back to sleep. (Spoiler: It actually took me another week before I stopped waking up around 2 a.m.).

The upside of the stupid early wake-ups is that getting to the park for early entry was a breeze. Unfortunately, by the time we got into the park, the line for Hagrid’s was already way too long for my tastes (this is not unusual) so we focused on other rides. Thankfully, the crowds had gone down quite a bit - at least it felt like that in the morning - and we knocked off a bunch of our “to-dos” pretty quickly. I wasn’t moving fast and my legs and feet had absolutely no tolerance for standing in line so we were strategic about what we did and what we decided to skip.

We also got some medal photos in front of the castle.


By mid-day, I desperately needed a break. We went to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium for lunch (OMG, their chocolate bread and their meatloaf is to die for!) and then headed back to the hotel for a break.

When we went back to the parks, K and I decided to split up as we had different “must-do” rides at that point. This was possibly the first time that I’d been alone since the marathon and as I was walking through Islands of Adventure, all of a sudden the reality sunk in that I had actually finished DOPEY and it nearly stopped me in my tracks. It was like “oh, wow, that really happened.” In some ways, it didn’t feel real until that point. In some ways, even a month later, it still doesn’t.

I tried my best to finish out the evening strong, but my feet had had enough. The straw that broke the camel’s back was standing in the line for the Minions ride. There were two pre-show areas (and a short line to get in) and my feet were just screaming at me by the time I finally sat down on the ride. I had hoped to see a second showing of the Cinematic Celebration (like I said, it’s my favorite show), but I wound up just finding a bench nearby and listening to the music.

Then it was back to the hotel for one last dip in the hot tub and to pack. I was headed home the next afternoon while K was staying an extra two days to visit family. It was sad to see this magical trip winding down.

The next morning we decided to do the morning CTP Zoom call instead of heading to the parks. Neither one of us were going to make the evening call and we wanted to hear how everyone’s weekend went. After checking out, we headed to the parks for a few more rides and lunch before we sadly had to leave.

My flight home was mostly uneventful. I got home in enough time to eat dinner at a reasonable time and get things organized for work the next day before collapsing into bed.

And finally - trip report complete!


it never hurts to keep looking for sunshine
Dec 6, 2021
No more chocolate during a race for me!
Chocolate sounds like the last thing I would want during a race… I wish they would add a salty snack!
We also got some medal photos in front of the castle.
Yes!! If they ever did a HP run I would do it in a heartbeat.

Congrats!!! I loved reading about your training and your race. So proud of you!

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