Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Guest Post: Running the World - 2014 Dopey Challenge

Editors Note: Enjoy this guest post from my friend (and person who walked me through my first 5k) Briccio DeLeon who is heading down to Walt Disney World tomorrow to participate in the Dopey Challenge. His story is truly inspirational! Stay tuned for his post-marathon report later this month.

Let me tell you a little about myself and how I started running.  Up until five or six years ago, I would have never considered myself a runner.  I’ve been overweight pretty much my whole life and an opportunity to change that came when a friend of mine invited me to the gym with her.  A few days became a few weeks, and a few weeks became a yearly membership; before I knew it, after two years, I officially lost 75 pounds. 

Running wasn’t really a part of that equation until the end of that period.  I never really had a good appreciation of running.  I remember going to Great Kills Park on Staten Island with my family when I was a kid and having this long stretch of road ahead of us. I would end up walking the whole length.  My first real appreciation of running was with my father when he and I walked the park and he challenged me to a run.  Any kid who gets a challenge from parent feels the need to be “better” than them, so of course I took the challenge and ran the length. 

As I frantically ran with all my energy I saw my father take his time and run at a pace that confused me a bit.  Why wasn’t he running faster? He completely let me pass.  That’s when I learned my first rule of running – keep your pace and conserve your energy.  After a good five minutes of me sweating, burning, and coughing, I hit the wall and stopped dead in my tracks.  A few minutes later my dad just strolled up and passed me right by.  Yep, he beat me and deservedly so.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized what he was doing in that run and I’ll never forget it for as long as I live.

Fast-forward to 2010: My best friend asks me, “Wanna do a Disney Half-marathon with me?”  As a Disney fanatic, I’m embarrassed to say that I never EVER knew about runDisney before this.  I looked it up, saw pictures of kids high-fiving Mickey and decided “Why not?”  Having only run on treadmills to help me lose weight I knew I had to change my plan because marathon training was a whole different beast.  Six months of training later, with runs around Manhattan at 6pm at night in the summer months that got me from 34th Street and 1st Avenue to 79th Street and BACK, I knew I was ready.  When January 2011 came and the challenge started, my goal was never to be competitive; rather my goal was to have fun and to FINISH. THE. RACE.  And I did.  I didn’t care how long it took me, I just wanted to finish, get my pictures with Mickey, Donald and all the Disney characters that I passed and to see Disney World in a whole new light.  It was the best, most fun goal I’ve ever set for myself and I’m glad to have completed it.

So now it’s 2014 and in less than a week, I will be running the first Walt Disney World Marathon Dopey Challenge. What’s the Dopey Challenge you ask?  It’s basically for people who are completely and utterly OUT OF THEIR MINDS! It encompasses:
  • Thursday, January 9 - Family Fun Run 5K
  • Friday, January 10 - First Annual 10K
  • Saturday, January 11- Walt Disney World Half Marathon 
  • Sunday, January 12 - The Walt Disney World Marathon.   
4 days, 48.6 Miles, 6 medals of awesomeness (one for each run, one for the “Goofy Challenge” of running the half and full and one for the Dopey Challenge of completing all four!)

So how does one prepare for this monstrous feat of athletic aptitude?  I learned two very vital things from running that would help anyone in their pursuit to be a better runner.  Socks and shoes!  No joke! Compression socks are probably a runner’s best friend other than their shoes.  They help protect the legs from injury, from strain in running long distances and provide extreme comfort on the feet that prevent you from damaging them. The right shoes also helps.  There are websites out there that help explain which shoes are the right one for you based on the way that you run.  Once I found my right pair, I never looked back and I’m glad these sneakers I have now (Adidas Boost) are the ones I’ll be running with.

Other than that, the only thing left to do is get out there and run.  Whether you’re doing it competitively or if you’re like me and just doing it for the fun of it, there’s no other better place to start than just going outside and running.  Don’t run for the time, the pace, the miles, or even the calories - run because it’s in you to WANT to run.  The best thing about it is that everyone can do it; you just have to motivate yourself.  You don’t have to run hard and fast, just do it like me and start easy and go from there, the next thing you know, you’ll be signing up for the 2015 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge.  Just don’t forget the two things my dad taught me - keep your pace and conserve your energy. 

I’d like to thank Roe for giving me the opportunity to write this.  I started my own blog last year wanting to write tips and hints and exactly the same ideas I’ve been meaning to write here but as always life finds a way to never provide any consistency (A major headache for a “blogger” that Roe and I even joked about what to update on our blogs and I have to admit, she’s doing A LOT better about it than I am. - Briccio


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