The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend is here! For many of you, it may be your first time running a race of this distance, for others, this will be an old hat, but no matter if this is your first race or 100th, you should be extremely proud of your achievement. (And check out the medal!)
At this point, you’ve done all the hard work. You’ve gotten up early on the weekends to run your long runs, you’ve sacrificed time, money and your sanity to train and you’ve bought all your gear wear on race day.
You may be pulling up to your Walt Disney World resort now, checking into your room, and wondering “what the hell did I get myself into?” Don’t worry, that’s totally normal.
I’ll help calm your nerves by giving you some last minute tips.
- Gear: Don’t be tempted to try out the new shoes, super cute new sparkly skirt or sports bra that you find at the expo. You can buy it and bring it home to try out on your next training run, but don’t wear anything new during your race. I learned this the hard way the year I wore the mermaid pants during the Princess Half Marathon
- Buses: I hope you are staying on site for your own sanity. If you are, you will get to take advantage of the complimentary Walt Disney World transportation to the races. The race packet states that the buses begin running at 3am and you must board by 4:30 a.m. You may be tempted to hope on one of the last buses so you don’t have to wait in the cold, or b/c you see the race doesn’t start until 6:00 a.m. or because you are in one of the last corrals or some other perfectly valid sounding excuse, but…..make sure you are on one of the first buses. Yes, you really need to get on a bus at 3:00 a.m. to get to the race in time. By boarding early you will avoid the extra crowded buses, have time to take pictures with the characters and have a chance to relax before the race. The last thing you want is to have the added stress of worrying about making it to the starting line in time. During my last race I saw hundreds of runners literally running to the start line and hopping over the corral barriers to get into their corral before race start because they were late. You are getting ready to run a substantial distance, you don’t need the extra cardio.
- Parks: You can totally visit the parks prior to the race and you don’t have to stay completely off your feet, contrary to other advice I’ve seen. It will be good for you to have some level of activity and keep your legs warm. However, don’t overdo it. Leave the park at a reasonable time so you can get back to your room for an early bedtime for the 3:00 a.m. wake up time. When I visited with my family, I encouraged my hubby to take the kiddos over to the Boardwalk for dinner, watching the performers and ice cream while I relaxed. It made me feel better to know they were having a good time and I would be well rested for the day ahead. After you finish the race, definitely enjoy the parks to your heart’s content! I like to go back to the room and shower after the marathon and then go to the parks until they close, rewarding myself for my hard work.
- Gear check or what to bring: I’ve seen everything from new runner’s bringing a huge bag full of gear to the race for bag check, complete with a new outfit, change of shoes, food, drinks and massage sticks to seasoned runners showing up with no gear check bag at all. First, do what makes you feel comfortable. I’m certainly not going to tell you to go empty handed if this will cause you anxiety, but I can also tell you that less is more. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum and I have to say that 9 times out of 10, I don’t use anything in my checked gear bag. I like to get back to my room as soon as possible after a race to take a shower because I start to get chills if I wait too long. So I really don’t have a need to check anything in my gear bag, it just slows me down upon arrival and departure. If you bring anything at all, bring the minimal amount of items you need to be comfortable. I suggest a warm coat or long-sleeved shirt to warm you up. You will get water and powerade at the finish, so you don’t need to bring a drink. You will get a snack box full of goodies, as well as the obligatory banana, so you don’t need to bring food. I’ve seen numerous people bring recovery slides, although I don’t see the sense of urgency of getting out of my running shoes. I think you’ll be fine to change shoes back at your room. If you plan on touring the parks immediately after running, bring a change of clothes, but otherwise, don’t bother.
- The Course: Enjoy the course, but also run your race. Personally, O don’t like to stop for a lot of pictures because it makes my legs feel heavy and slow. Every time I stop and go it takes much more effort and zaps my energy. So for me, I can enjoy seeing the characters, but I only stop to take pics if it’s a really cool character that I never see in the parks. Definitely look around and enjoy your surroundings, stop to take pics if you want, high five the crowds and share words of encouragement with other runners. This is what you came here for!
Good luck to all the runners this weekend! Let me know how it goes!