My Year of “Stupid” Races

I have decided that this year is going to go down in the books as my year of “stupid” races.  In 2014 I have run in four multi-race weekends.  As if it wasn’t difficult enough to run one race in a weekend, I felt I needed to raise the bar and ran races back-to-back.

I kicked off the year running the Inaugural DisneyWorld “Dopey Challenge”.  For four days in a row I got up at 2:30 AM to go run a race; each day the distance got progressively longer.  We started with a 5K on the first day, then a 10K on Day 2, a half marathon on Day 3 and finally a full marathon on Day 4.  It was a total of 48.6 miles.  It was a runner’s version of Groundhog Day.

In the pictures of me from that weekend, I had a big grin on the first couple days – hey, we were doing something nobody else had done before, the Inaugural Dopey!  By the 3rd and 4th day, the grin wasn’t nearly as big.  When I was running the marathon, I was questioning why I thought it was such a bright idea to run this challenge.  I was also getting tired of running.  Heck, it was more like a job than something I do a few days a week for fun.  But I made it through all 4 days and had over a pound of medals to show for it.

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Then I found a race weekend called the “Nut Job”.  Now how could I pass that one up?  The Nut Job was a 5K on Saturday evening followed by a half marathon on Sunday morning.  There were only about 12 hours between races.  As soon as the first race was over, I had to get to bed so I could get up and head back out for the half marathon.  I was not as rested as I would have liked for the half marathon but I got it done.

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Runners World sent me an email advertising their first running festival in Boston in June.  The festival included the “Hat Trick” – a 5K followed immediately by a 10K on Saturday morning and then a half marathon on Sunday morning.  It was a challenge I could not resist.  Clever marketing and race name and I was hooked.

On Saturday there was only about 45 minutes between the finish of the 5K and the start of the 10K.  It was crazy.  There was no recovery time.  On top of that, the 10K course included the infamous Heartbreak Hill of the Boston Marathon course.  I had to run back up that hill after expending part of my energy earlier on the 5K course.  Sunday morning I got to run down and up Heartbreak Hill again.  Although I knew what to expect, the second time was not any easier.  I earned my Hat Trick though.

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This weekend I capped things off with the Disneyland “Dumbo Double Dare”.  The Dumbo Double Dare included a 10K on Saturday morning followed by a half marathon on Sunday morning.  In comparison to some of the other things I have done this year, it was tame.  There were only two races in the Dumbo Double Dare (though there were some people who ran the 5K on Friday morning too, even though it was not officially part of the series).  Plus I had 24 hours to recover between races.  Although my last training run had been difficult, I was able to achieve negative splits (where the second half of the race is faster than the first half) for both the 10K and the half marathon.   From my perspective the weekend was a real success.

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One of the spectators along the Dumbo half marathon race course had a sign that spoke to me – “Run, Dummy, Run!”  Yes, I felt like a dummy for challenging myself like I had been doing.  But I find it interesting to see how far I can push myself with back-to-back races.  They are my version of an ultra-marathon with dinner and lots of naps in between.

I am not certain that multi-race weekends are the best thing for me.   With back-to-back races, I find you end up focusing on just being able to finish all the races instead of on getting your best finish time – the quantity versus quality dilemma.  That said, I would be remiss if I did not disclose that I do have one more crazy back-to-back race weekend in my future – January’s DisneyWorld “Goofy Race and a Half Challenge” – a half marathon Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.

And please, don’t let me know about anymore of these crazy multi-race weekends, especially if they have funny names like Nut Job.  I can’t seem to resist these kinds of challenges.