Dopey 2019 Reflections: Rest and Recovery

Just over a week ago I finished the Dopey Challenge with a personal best marathon time in spite of really struggling with the heat and humidity. You can read about that here. For those of you who thought I was done with Dopey posts – nope. I’m going to milk it a little longer. I want to tell you about the rest and recovery that got us through the challenge in this post and then the celebrations and the medals in the next.

So the first thing to think about it how much sleep you’re going to need. Dopey is tiring and I think we managed to make the challenge enjoyable in part because we slept loads. We had an afternoon nap every day during the race weekend. It meant not playing in the parks but it was the right thing to do! Work, Christmas, travel and all of that meant we were tired anyway, add early starts and running increasing distances for 4 days in a row. You need to sleep – at least you do when you’re me!

So afternoon naps and early bed helped massively and that pattern didn’t stop – we slept after the marathon. On the Monday after we played in the parks with lots of sit downs and stops and we came away quite early. On Tuesday we went to the parks early but then came back and slept before heading back out, same on Wednesday. Thursday we managed a full day in the parks without a nap and were sooooo proud of ourselves, Friday we were back to resting if not napping!

The only thing that really got me was chafing. I shall spare you the details but trust me when I say you should never be that conscious or that worried about exactly where your underwear sits. It all happened during the half marathon when we had a pee stop. Sweaty lycra pants are tricky to get back up properly and they never sat right again. The full just aggravated the already raw areas. As much as it freaks me out, this was a job for vaseline. I hate vaseline, the texture, the smell, everything… but vaseline it had to be.

I am sure that being relatively active helped recovery. We walked a fair bit and kept those legs moving. I also spent quite a while lying down with my legs up in the air and overall I think I did pretty well. After the half marathon I was fine. After the full I was tight and my feet were a bit tender. However nothing really hurt. My lower back on the right side and into my right hip were niggly on and off but nothing too bad. I suspect that could have been avoided completely if I had stretched more. In fact this is the one thing we really neglected. We’re idiots! We hardly stretched at all which is just daft because that actually makes a massive difference and I think would have avoided the soreness that we did experience. Live and (probably not) learn.

The other thing that probably wasn’t ideal is food. We fuelled relatively well during the challenge having chosen our restaurants carefully but even then the portions were too big and we probably had too much. The days after we could probably have made better choices to help with our recovery. We didn’t go crazy and kept the booze within relatively sensible limits but Disney portions and menus that kept enticing us to have three courses meant that we had far too much and too much of the wrong stuff. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find some actual green vegetables! The food was amazing and part of our celebrations but it was really not a healthy week!

I was worried about how I would mentally deal with finishing Dopey, recovering and then starting running again. I mostly did quite well. I was overwhelmed and had little cries every now and again but I recovered well mostly. I had one major wobble. It didn’t come until Tuesday when we were queuing to get into Hollywood Studios. There were a few Dopey runners and marathon runners around and many of them looked very sore. I was feeling ok. I suddenly thought, wow I clearly didn’t work hard enough, I’m not sore, I should have done so much more… and I started thinking about points where I could have pushed harder. I soon snapped out of it but every now and again my mind goes back to that. I also forget or fail to recognise that Dopey is a pretty big deal. It can’t really be because I did it. And I don’t do things that are such a big deal.

I was also worried about getting back into running after Dopey. I struggled with that last time and London Marathon prep suffered as a result. I was concerned that I won’t recover enough to train properly. The first test came on the Thursday after Dopey. We decided to try a little run on the Contemporary running track. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about how far I would go or how fast. I just wanted to see if I could still put one foot in front of the other. I could. I was incredibly tired and my legs felt pretty heavy. I trotted round a mile and a bit, took some pictures. Right at the end I felt my hip niggle a bit so I stopped. Overall, it was a good first trot out.

My hamstrings want a divorce

Muscle soreness is always worst on the 2nd day after doing something, right? Well I was IMG_9286(and sort of still am) feeling pretty good about how I feel 2 days post half marathon. Walking around and just going about our ‘being a tourist’ stuff I can barely tell that I ran a half marathon. I feel good. The plan for today was to head out to Toronto Island and go for a run out there. We checked  online and from one end to the other should be roughly 5km. 5km, well I reckon I can do that.

IMG_9287We woke up early again after another pretty disturbed night. We decided we would ask if there was another room available that wasn’t opposite a service door where staff seem to chat and where some work is obviously done at 11pm and around 1.30am. I have no idea what but that’s when the conversations and banging happen. They then start up again around 5am so sleep is not easy. We were told there would be a room available so we packed all our stuff, left it with bell services and headed out. We got the 8am ferry to Hanlan’s point and then ran across the islands all the way to Wards Island ferry port. Oh my goodness.IMG_9266

So walking and running use very different muscles or the same ones differently! The minute I started running I realised just how tired and tight my hamstrings were. They
were screaming at me to not be an idiot and just stop moving. Had I not been in such striking surroundings I might have listened. I kept putting one foot in front of the other and with encouragement from Kath made it to the other end. I didn’t dare stop running because I didn’t think I’d get going again if I walked. At the other end we stopped, had a little walk along the lake front on the beach and then realised that the boardwalk that we thought was closed was actually open. It was too tempting. We decided to run at least a short stretch of it. As I started running again, my hamstrings filed for divorce. They did not want anything further to do with this madness. They felt like they had shortened by about 3 inches and just didn’t really fit me any more:

Hamstrings: You’re being unreasonable

Me: Why?

Hamstrings: Come on – 13.1 miles just 2 days ago and now this?

Me: 13.37 actually and shut-up, you’re fine

Hamstrings: No we’re not, we’re too short

Me: Nope, you just feel too short

Hamstrings: Same thing

Me: No, just get on with it.

Hamstrings: That’s it, it’s definitely you and not us. You’re just unreasonable. Stop it.


Me: Nope. See, you’re fine really

Hamstrings: Ok, maybe, maybe… ok.

Me: See

Hamstrings: Hmph. We hate you.

Me: There, done.

Hamstrings: Unreasonable, just unreasonable.

Left calf:I agree with the hamstrings!

Me: Shush, nobody asked you

After that we were hoping to at least get some coffee but nothing opens on the island IMG_9329until 11am it seems and even after walking around Centre Island a little it was only about 10am. So we decided to head back, get a coffee and pastry and Queens Quay and then walk to St Lawrence market before going back to the hotel. At the hotel we picked up our new room keys and had our bags sent up to us  – seemed easier. The room initially seemed fine – smaller than the original one and a lot lower down obviously but fine. Then we realised that the air conditioning vent on a lower roof below was rattling badly and banging and even with the window closed was incredibly noisy – we tried again and this time got a room on the 10th floor which seemed fine. We went to retrieve our luggage from the 6th floor room and the key cards didn’t work. We were by now a little irritated with going up and down the hotel’s various lifts. We spoke to a manager and she sorted it and we could get our bags. As a gesture she has given us a voucher for breakfast tomorrow – suppose that’s fair.

Once settled we had a little swim and 10 minutes in the whirlpool. That seems to have made my hamstrings reconsider their position. They seem a little friendlier even after walking to the CN Tower for dinner and back (it was fab) but then I haven’t tried to run so I’ll let you know how my relationship with my hamstrings develops over this week.


Toronto Half – the morning after

I feel good about yesterday. I have had a few ‘should have pushed harder up that hill, could have taken a walk break out down this or that slope, should have pushed on through the mental doubts a bit more, could have run just that little faster on the slower miles’ sort of thoughts but actually, I’m happy.

I fell asleep about 8.15pm. I slept really well until 11pm and woke up thinking I’d had a right good night’s sleep. Hm. I dozed off again and slept in fits and starts until 5.30am ish. Still, I feel quite rested this morning and I’m a big fan of afternoon naps! So, let’s see where we are after running 13.1 miles faster than I ever have before

  1. Nothing is injured, nothing really hurts or is really sore
  2. My hip flexors are tight
  3. My calves are tight
  4. My hamstrings are tight
  5. But none of them are ridiculously tight. I’ve had far far worse – it’s what I call smug tightness  – reminds you you achieved something
  6. My feet feel a bit tired and I got one little blister but it doesn’t hurt – it must have popped during the race anyway
  7. Vaseline will have to be my friend for a few days and undergarments will have to be carefully chosen for exactly how they fit and where exactly they sit- should have used bodyglide for bra and knicker line!
  8. I haven’t had any post long run/race cravings and I’m also not eating everything in sight like is normal post running
  9. I’m looking forward to a day of being a tourist

Looking back at the race, we got lots of things right. Having porridge about 3.5 hours before race start works. It could probably be a bit closer, maybe 3 hours but I think previously I have eaten too close to the start – like 90 minutes before and then I get tummy issues. I obviously need longer and yesterday that time frame of 3 hours plus worked. I was beginning to get a little nibblish when we set off but that was fine, that, I think, is the feeling I am aiming for.

I reviewed tailwind for fuel the other day. We used that again yesterday and it worked. I had two 125ml bottles and didn’t actually drink it all. I’d made it up on the strong side. It definitely helped and caused no tummy issues at all. Towards the end –  in the last 5k, my calves were beginning to just be a bit crampy and I had a couple of big sips and it stopped. I think we also got the water stations right – in that we ignored them mostly. I stopped at one because I felt thirsty. I have to walk to drink the water though and then walk a little longer for it to settle. I don’t get the same with sips of tailwind  – I can easily get my bottle out of my pocket, have a sip and put the bottle back within a 30 second walk break. I suspect I could sip it on the run. I think when I focus on water stations I drink more than I need and risk upsetting my tummy. I’m much better with slightly more frequent little sips of tailwind.

With our last order of tailwind we got 4 stick packs of their Rebuild recovery drink. I had packed them so immediately after we finished we picked up our bag and sat down, stretched a little and I made up the recovery drinks. We had one of each flavour. I poured the powder into the water bottles we’d packed and gave the bottles a good shake –  it mixed well. Kath had the chocolate one. She said it was quite nice and that I’d probably like it (safe bet, it’s chocolate). I had the vanilla one. Well. The smell is terrible. As I went to take my first sip I breathed in and nearly gave it up as a bad job. It smells absolutely vile. It’s hard to explain but the smell turned my stomach. I took a sip anyway. It actually tastes better than it smells. It’s drinkable but it wasn’t exactly pleasant. I got it down and at least it doesn’t have a lingering after taste. I do think the recovery drink helped though. Kath did not go flakey like she often does straight after a long run so there was no rush or stress to find somewhere for food and for both of us it stopped the post run cravings and munchies. I also think the lack of any real soreness is due to having it and of course due to keeping moving. It seems Rebuild does exactly what it says on the tin (well packet and website) and I really do think it helped repair muscles and restore energy.

Today is all about active recovery. We’re going to explore the Distillery District and when we get tired later we might come back to the hotel and have a swim – we may also have to venture to the Eaton centre – we never go shopping unless we’re away somewhere. Somehow it seems more fun when on holiday.

Happy Monday!