Returning from an Injury: Atlantic City 10k

Let me start by saying, at the beginning of last week I wasn’t sure I was going to run this race.

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Exactly a month ago, I injured my right quadricep muscle, right near the knee. Since then I’ve done everything to move the healing process along. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. I’ve worked with my trainer (mostly upper body). I’ve visited a doctor and gone to Physical Therapy for two weeks. I skipped last week’s scheduled 5k because I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. But given that my leg has been feeling really good and I need to get back into running for next month’s runDisney Wine and Dine, I decided that I was going to give the 10k at one of my favorite race series a go.

To say that I was extremely nervous about it would be a vast understatement. Originally I’d planned to drive down to AC solo. However as race day drew closer, I started dropping subtle hints that I thought I might want my husband to come along for the trip. And by subtle hints, I mean bribery.

“You could GAMBLE while I run! Won’t that be fun, Jay? And I get a beer at the end of the race and I’ll give that to you. I mean, granted, it will be 10 in the morning but I’m a very good sharer. Hey, you can even drive!” I know, those are very convincing arguments and ones that could not be denied. Once I solidified my mom’s babysitting services, he joined me for both the expo on Friday night and race Saturday morning.

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Just prior to the rain, we were having some entertainment.

The weather had been looking ominous the days leading up to the weekend. We were feeling the after effects of Tropical Storm Karen; the rain and wind had been bad in AC both Thursday and Friday and it wasn’t looking promising for Saturday’s race. And sure enough, soon after we arrived, the rain started. But as a wise woman always said to me, “You’re not made of sugar, you won’t melt.” Thanks for that, Gram.

Especially since the rain wouldn’t stop for the majority of the time we were running.

ac10k2I ran on these boards during the April Fools half in both 2012 and 2013 so it was comforting that I knew the route. Prior to running I’d decided to follow the Galloway method with 3:1 intervals – three minutes of running, one minute of walking. Considering I hadn’t actually run for a month, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

If I was hurting, I knew I could walk or just turn around. I planned to listen to any cues that my body was sending. Sometimes I push through pain if it’s just a cranky hip or a tweaked knee, but if my quad even gave a little shout, I planned to call it quits.

ac10k4After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and a quick countdown, we were off! Jay waved his “I’m so excited, I made a sign” sign and bid me farewell.

The rain was both a blessing and a curse. It forced me to put my phone in my SPIbelt and not be tempted to take pictures during the run, which I believe was a good thing. Jay was tracking my phone so he knew where I was at any given point in time, which was comforting. The curse, of course, was slick boards, wet glasses, wet clothes, and feeling like I was going to be blown away at certain parts of the race.

The out-and-back course is entirely along the boardwalk with the start at Bally’s casino. The rain really started pelting us about a half mile in. While the conditions weren’t ideal, I was just happy to be moving! I felt good and while I might have gone out a wee bit too fast (caught up in the excitement of the start and being able to actually run without pain), I soon fell into a comfortable pace with the intervals.

I “hung out” with my friends, Blue Pants Minnie Shoes, Pink Jacket, and Orange Hat the majority of the race; they were both doing intervals as well and we would catch up to each other throughout. I chatted a bit with them, mostly about the weather and Disney. Soon enough we were at the 5k turn around and a good amount of the runners peeled off, heading back to Bally’s.

I was totally jealous of those 5k runners, for the record.

Although, I suppose I shouldn’t have been TOO jealous. The wind was at our backs on the way out… the 10k turn around brought more wind and rain to the face.

Not so much fun.

I tried to curl a bit so that the top of my head was getting the majority of the wind, but it was difficult to run that way. The volunteers were out at the water stops with smiles and encouraging words. It helped to continue on and not just say “Screw this, Jay come get me.” That thought might have passed through my mind more than once. Also, I was singing “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” repeatedly to the tune of whatever song was on my iPod.

The mile 5 marker had a clock indicating I was slightly under an hour, which was promising. Promising in that I had arrived at mile 5, there was only 1.2 left, and that I was going to finish in just about the same amount of time of my last 10k.

Right around that time, I spotted Orange Hat a bit ahead. Orange Hat reminded me of my friend, Moe, who I’d run the April Fools half with in the spring. I was missing Moe hard at that moment (I always miss Moe, but more so in that miserable rainy moment) so I caught up with Orange Hat and said, “Let’s get this done” and we fell into pace together.

I fell back at one point, then she did. But we kept meeting in the middle, pushing each other to the finish. And finally, I saw the glass walkway that indicated we nearly were at the end! She said, “I can hear the announcer!” We picked it up a bit and brought it home.

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You can see that I’ve spotted Jay and it’s the finish line and HOORAY, I can almost go inside and out of the rain. Because while I’m not made of sugar, my clothes were sticking to me and I couldn’t see very well (rain and glasses = muy mal), and oooh, I get a medal!

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I wore my SKORA Cores for this race – was afraid they might slip on on boards but they were awesome!

After getting our medals, I walked over to Orange Hat to thank her for motivating me throughout the race. I then found out that her name is Emily and she and her family are attempting to do a 10k in every state! Go Emily! (And seriously, if you’re reading this, thank you again! You really helped me, especially in that last mile.)

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Wore my Chicago Marathon hat as a shout out to Moe (who ran this weekend) and all the other marathoners!

I was able to maintain my 3:1 intervals the entire race and finished in 1:13. Given the disgusting weather and coming off an injury, I’m very content with that! If I can maintain that pace for the Wine and Dine half, I’ll be golden. I think doing the Galloway method helped me stay consistent throughout and that’s my goal for Wine and Dine too!

Tell me, have you come back from a “time out” from running? How did you get back into running? Do you do run/walk? Who will I see at Wine and Dine next month?

Don’t be dopey about Dopey

I’ll admit it. I’m intrigued.

Much of me wants to run the inaugural runDisney Dopey Challenge in 2014, which was announced last week. That’s four races totaling 48.6 miles over four days of the annual Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January.

The challenge includes a 5k race on Thursday, a new 10K race on Friday, a half-marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.

I’d like to run it. But should I?

My concern – training.

Yes, some runners will simply register for Dopey because they adore runDisney events and its accompanying medals. Dopey will reward finishers with six medals. Six. That’s a lot of bling for a long weekend.

But runners will also need to log a lot of miles to gain that prize.

But all runners – novice through experienced distance runners – must do one thing to prepare for such a mission. They must respect the distance. They must prepare properly for the race.

Earlier this year, I ran the Goofy Challenge – a marathon and a half over two days. The experience was just that – a challenge. But I trained for months. I ran slowly. And I walked far more of the course than ever before.

And it was fabulous. 39.3 miles followed by another half-marathon one week later. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.

I don’t know if I should say the same about 48.6. I’d like to. But should I?

Former Olympian and distance runner Jeff Galloway, who is also a marathon and endurance training consultant for runDisney, said he is creating a training plan for runners wishing to attempt the new series of races.

“While almost anyone can adapt to this series of runs, it helps to have been running regularly, starting April 1,” he said.

Galloway said his Dopey training plan will alternate between minimal running one week and four running days in a row the subsequent week.

Minimal: This week will include 30 minutes of running on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 30 to 45 minutes on one weekend day.

Four-day prep week: Mileage will start with minimal amounts and build every two or three weeks, to race distances in December.  The first three days of these weeks will be mostly walking.

“The Dopey has created an amazing response,” Galloway said. “I’m already looking forward to the weekend.”

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Jeff Galloway in January, as he runs the WDW Marathon using his run-walk-run method. I ran into him on the course.

Runners considering Dopey should also consider whether they can finish each race within the challenge within the allotted time frame. Disney races give runners a more generous cushion than most distance events of up to 16-minute miles.

Galloway offered a training tool, his magic mile formula, to help a runner  to determine his or her predicted race times, based on a one-mile run. While obviously the tool does not factor in stops to pose with dozens of Disney characters along the course, it gives runners a basic idea of her or her finish time Рand a glimpse at whether or not the runner should attempt the challenge.

Upon running the Goofy Challenge in January, Galloway offered some advice: Walk as much as possible, drink lots of water, and slow down.

It’s not about speed, he said. It’s about completing all 39.3 miles.

The same is true for Dopey.

Registration opens April 9 and Dopey’s registration fees starts at $495.

Will you be participating in the new Dopey Challenge? Why or why not?