I have run seven half marathons in my past and have always kept to the rule that you don’t run back to back days. The rule, for me, has almost become a superstition and in my head if I run on back to back days very bad things would happen. My quadriceps may fall off, my hamstrings may decide to try macramé, or my Achilles Tendons would spontaneously shred and disappear completely – all of which would permanently cripple me. I have a very active imagination.
I started to notice a few years ago that some race organizers, and RunDisney in particular, were offering challenge races and everyone and their dog was clamoring for registration spots. These races are either on back to back days, or even on the same day. People also seem to want to register multiple years in a row which suggests that none of the above atrocities happened to them – they all seemed to have perfectly normal quads, hamstrings, and Achilles tendons. This intrigued me.
Challenge runs have been around since at least 2005 when RunDisney listened to people complaining about how they wanted to earn all the medals in an event weekend by participating in all the events. That year they offered the first Goofy Race and a Half Challenge as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. You could either choose to run the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Full Marathon, or you could choose to ‘do Goofy’ and run the Half Marathon and Full Marathon on back to back days for a total of 39.3 miles (62.88 Km). Now they even have the ‘Dopey’ challenge – which involves the running extremely ridiculous sequence of 5K / 10K / Half Marathon / Full Marathon on four consecutive days – truly a Dopey endeavour!
Challenges are seriously the latest craze and not only RunDisney is doing them. Most big races have this kind of option now and these challenges often sell out before the individual races do.
Why is this Crazy?
It wouldn’t be a crazy year if I wasn’t testing my boundaries of what I will and won’t do, and pushing myself past the places where I normally stop. Therefore, you guessed it, I had to do a challenge. I chose the Pixie Dust Challenge at the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon, which involved running the 10K on Saturday, May 9th, and the Half Marathon on Sunday, May 10th . This would be for a total of 19.3 miles (30.1 Km). My biggest fear was that I would injure myself and not be able to run anymore.
Running as part of Team Lemon with Alex’s Lemonade Stand, I was offered the services of an online coach – Coach Mary. She gave me some training tips that involved starting to run light back to back days and working my way up. This worked, but I still was doubtful, and actually really worried!
In talking to people who have done it many admit that they coast through one of the races and push themselves harder for the others. It’s all about the medals and by doing the Pixie Dust Challenge I would get three of the lovely beauties.
I decided to go pretty easy on both runs. My only goal was to finish both while still vertical. I also had costume elements, heat, etc. to deal with and I wanted to have some fun, too.
I ran the 10K slower than I usually run a 10K and had a blast. I stopped to take lots of pictures, enjoy the sights, and I just ran to finish the race. Done!
The next morning I wasn’t feeling sore at all and I ran the half marathon, also slower than I normally run, and also had a blast. I got the three medals, and the afternoon of half marathon day I noticed I was hardly sore at all. And the next day I was barely sore – not nearly as sore as I was after running the Victoria Half Marathon and the Rock n’ Roll Vancouver 10K within two weeks of each other last fall. In fact, I have never recovered so well from a running event as I did from the Pixie Dust Challenge. Consider my brain completely baffled… and thrilled!
Would I do it again?
Absolutely. The hardest part, in all seriousness, was getting up at 3:00 am for two mornings in a row. The running part was not too bad… and the medals… seriously worth it! Would I do Dopey?…. uh, probably not, but given the way this year is going I won’t rule anything out in the future!