Good-Bye 2013, Hello Dopey Challenge

Hey, guys! Happy New Year! Hope you all enjoyed the holiday season — I know I did! :)

I know I’ve taken a bit of an unintentional hiatus here with Christmas and whatnot, but I wanted to come back to the blogging world and say a proper good-bye to 2013 with a full recap on these final weeks of Dopey Challenge training — and a quick look back at my running adventures last year.

I am proud to report that I am in the final stretch of my Hal Higdon Dopey Challenge training plan, and that I did, in fact, take on my 19-mile run — in the snow!



But perhaps most importantly, I also successfully completed my own mini-Dopey Challenge. In the days leading up to Christmas, I ran a 5K — the Super Santa 5K in Morristown! — followed by a 5-miler, 10-miler, and 20-miler, all on consecutive days.


For the first three runs, I felt pretty pumped. The 5K felt like nothing, the 5-miler flew by, and I finished the 10-miler feeling strong and like I could have easily kept running.

When it came to the 20-mile run (which I tackled on Christmas Eve, and, yes, I did run around town dressed like an idiot), I found myself struggling…but mentally, not physically. Todd ran with me the first three days of my mini-Dopey, but really had absolutely no reason to run that many miles on the fourth, so I was completely on my own for the longest run of my training plan thus far.

I had written in a previous post how nervous I was about tackling the marathon completely on my own, and now I was going to get a little test run, so to speak. Todd has been an unbelievable source of support throughout this entire process, and I really don’t think I could have done it without him.

2013-10-26 10.52.49

I made it through the first half of the 20-miler feeling okay, but it was somewhere in those last 10 miles when I really found myself battling self-doubt. I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t sore and tired and drained — it was essentially four hours on my feet, after all — but at the same time, I can honestly say that I felt physically prepared to finish those 20 miles.

My big problem still remains all of those annoying “old me” thoughts that keep creeping back in times like these…the aftermath of 25+ years of being down on myself and letting fear control my life and never attempting anything that was even remotely out of my comfort zone. I can complete a 20-mile run, I can look down at my Garmin and physically see what I’ve done, and yet I’m still having a hard time believing in myself enough to KNOW that I’ll be able to finish this marathon.


There’s still a big part of me that fears the unknown and is afraid of taking on something like this — especially since it’s my first marathon. But there’s also a part of me that is elated to have finished my “mini-Dopey” training runs. It really made me feel as though I might just be able to pull this thing off!

Because I’ve been thinking about and planning for and training for Dopey for upwards of 6 months now, I like to think that my first marathon journey is coming to an end — but of course, it hasn’t even started. In less than a week, I will be in Florida to take on what will be the hardest, scariest, and probably most exciting experience of my life…and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a teensy little bit terrified.

I told myself I wasn’t going to write one of those sappy end-of-year posts, but I would feel remiss if I didn’t at least mention the fact that it was mere months ago that I was convinced that I couldn’t finish a half marathon. So as I sit here continuing to wonder if I really CAN complete the Dopey Challenge, I can’t help but think about all of the other running-related feats I accomplished last year.

Since finishing the Princess Half Marathon as my first half last February, I ended up running a total of 11 half marathons in 2013, along with countless shorter races, including 5Ks, 10Ks, and a 20K.


I completed a 10K and half marathon in the same weekend in Disneyland as part of the Dumbo Double Dare.

734849-1007-0008sI took on the “Hat Trick” at the Runner’s World Festival in Pennsylvania — a 5K, 10K, and half marathon in the same weekend.


I tackled a 5K and a half marathon on the same day during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend.



I ran a 10-mile beach race on sand in summer, and a half marathon on a bitterly cold day with 30-mile-per-hour winds this winter.



In 2013, I did things I never in a million years thought I could do…and I look forward to kicking off 2014 by proving to myself once again what I’m capable of achieving when I cross the finish line of my first marathon.

I’ve poured so much of my time and energy into this training process and my personal transformation as a runner — and, let’s face it, as a person. I know that I’ve done absolutely everything I can do to prepare myself for the physical, mental, and emotional challenge that awaits me next week.

I’m FULLY enjoying my taper right now, and I know that come next week, I will do whatever it takes to get me across all four finish lines.

I WILL conquer this challenge…and officially be “Dopey!” :)


Who has last-minute marathon tips for a first-timer?!

How do you deal with nerves/self-doubt before race day?



  1. LOVE it, and love the Christmas pics of you and Todd! I just know that since we will be out of state I will see you 100 times next week, but just in case….good luck and have fun! I am so excited to go Dopey, I am on cloud 9!

    • Aw, thanks! Haha, you know it…I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for you! Best of luck to you, too — we’ve got this! :-D

  2. You are a complete rock star! I don’t think I realized your first half was only in February! You’ve come so far and you made it through all your training runs, you’re going to totally rock Dopey! Good Luck and hope to see you next week!

    • Aw, thanks! Yeah, I was bit by the running bug HARD this year, that’s for sure! I’ll be looking out for you next week, best of luck with Dopey — we’ve got this! :-D

  3. Congratulations on reaching the end of your training and getting ready to tackle this big weekend. :)
    I was just talking about your race the other day to my brother… this is pretty incredible!! My advice to you ~ don’t forget to hydrate and fuel, trust your training, and do your best!!

    • Thanks, Stephanie — appreciate the advice, and I know proper fuel and hydration is a must! I’m glad the training is over…I’m ready to go and get this done! :-D

  4. I cannot believe how close your big weekend is! I have no doubts that you will do this and do it really, really well! Congrats on getting this far and I cannot wait to see how it turns out! Good luck and you look so, so happy in all of your pictures :)

    • Thanks, Amy! I know! In some ways I feel as though I’ve been thinking about this forever, and in others…it really snuck up on me! I can’t believe it’s almost here. I really appreciate the vote of confidence, and your support and advice along the way! Looking forward to joining you in the marathon club. :-D

  5. Jen,
    So proud of you and how far you’ve come. Wish we could be there to see you cross that finish line. You’ve got this! Congrats from Bobby too :-)

  6. I just love all your pictures, especially that last one with Dopey! Have you chosen your costumes for next weekend?

    Great job on your Dopey simulation, I cannot wait to read about your entire experience! I wish you the very best of luck (even though it is all hard work and talent that gets you to the finish line) next weekend!!

    • Thanks, Lauren! Yup, my costumes are just about set — Pluto for the 5K, Goofy for the 10K, Daisy Duck for the half (with Todd as Donald, haha), and Dopey for the full, since it just seemed appropriate. :) I’ll be posting pics here in the next couple of days before I leave!

      Thanks so much, appreciate it! I know what you mean — any time I go to wish a runner “luck” on an upcoming race, I think that it’s really not about luck at all, right?!

  7. You’ve put in the training, now it’s time to knock this challenge out!

  8. You’ve had an amazing year!! Best of luck with Dopey…I know you’re going to do great, you’ve trained hard and it will all pay off on race day(s)!

  9. What a great year! and congrats on the 20 miler, I look at it like you have to get the bad runs out, so the race will be great!

    Last minute advice: ENJOY IT! This is your victory lap and you totally deserve it.

    • That’s a great way to look at it; some of the training runs were brutal, so let’s hope I’ve gotten that all out of my system and will be ready to tackle this challenge! I’m getting really anxious (and excited) now! :)

  10. You had such an amazing year and have been a total inspiration to me! I’m so glad I found your blog this year – it has been awesome to follow along your journey! You are going to rock Dopey!

    • Aw, thanks, Kristina! I appreciate that. I’m enjoying following along with you, too — you’ve done some pretty awesome things, yourself, girl! :-D

  11. The hard part is the training. That’s done. Just enjoy your first marathon! Also…love that red and black jacket!

    • Thank you! That’s for sure — I totally can’t wait to do this, now!

      Thanks! It’s from Kohl’s…where pretty much all of my running attire is purchased. Gotta love FILA. Haha. :)

  12. Good luck on the Dopey. You’ll rock the marathon. Remember there are only 2 steps. Step 1 start running. Step 2 refer to step 1. Have fun!

  13. I’m so excited for you Jennifer! I’ve been following you since you ran that first half and with my first coming up, it’s amazing to see you now tackling the Dopey! You are going to nail it! I cannot wait to hear all about it. Make sure you tweet, I’ll be stalking you! ;)

  14. You are all prepared and I have no doubt you will be Dopey by Sunday. See you down there. Safe travels.

  15. Good luck! Try to enjoy it. Break it up into smaller races, 5k done, 10k done, and half marathon done, etc

  16. cinebibliophile says:

    Congrats on finishing the Dopey Challenge & for making it into WDW’s photos on their webpage!! Crazy cute photo!!

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