28 December, 2010

Disney Running 101 Part 5: The Day Before the Big Race

So you've finally made it down to Disney, went to the expo (or are on your way), spent a bunch of money, and there's only a day before race day.

If you've had a long drive or flight to get there and haven't had a chance to unwind yet, try to get in a brisk walk or a tiny jog just to loosen up.  Your training is over, so keep this light and easy, don't go crazy!  An easy walk through one of the parks is good, but don’t go commando and try to do too much.

Don't forget to stay hydrated!  Like I said earlier...travel, especially airplane travel, can leave you dehydrated, so make sure you watch your fluid intake.  But again, be careful not to over do it.  Too much fluid can lead to electrolyte dilution.  Hydration is about right when urine is pale yellow rather than dark yellow; think more like lemonade, less like orange juice.  If you feel bloated or your stomach is making “sloshing” sounds, you may be drinking too much.  Remember, you have been hydrating over the last 3 – 4 days.  This is just to top off the tank.  You can't adequately hydrate in just one day.

For dinner, try to eat your normal diet.  This is not the time to try that new spicy Moroccan dish, or see if you might like sushi after all.  Stick with what you know.  The night before, I like to have a meal rich in protein with some sort of carb or starch (Le Cellier...here I come!).  Some do still do the pasta before, but I like to stick to potatoes or rice.  Possibly a small side dish of pasta.  Do what works best for you and again, don't try to reinvent the wheel!  Otherwise, just eat your usual healthy balanced dinner (might want to avoid high-fiber and high fat though so there's no uhh...'stomach issues').

You will want to turn in early, but there are still things to be done before bedtime.  Decide what time you want to wake up and set your alarm(s).  Many opt for multiple alarms... the alarm clock in your hotel room, another alarm clock brought from home, your cell phone and/or watch alarm, AND a wake up call.  May be overkill, but you’re this close, why take a chance?

Lay out what you will wear during the run.
  • Tech shirt
  • Running shorts/tights
  • Socks
  • Sneakers
  • Briefs/Compression Shorts/Sports Bra
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Braces/Wraps

Pin your bib number to your shirt (some prefer to pin it to their shorts, just a personal preference.  And by the way, in either case, it goes in the front).  Attach your timing chip to your shoe.

If you will be wearing toss-away clothing for pre-race, go ahead and get those ready.  An old sweat shirt and sweat pants; old jogging suit; bell bottoms from back in the day...or just a couple of big trash bags will work.  Disney washes and donates all of the clothing that is tossed away so look at it as if you're helping a good cause!  Last year they broke the record for amount of clothing donated.  Granted it was the coldest it's been in Florida since the Stone Age but still!  You may want to take a trash bag anyway, so that you can have something to sit on while you wait for the start, or in case of rain. If you have cold hands, some light throw away gloves or an old pair of socks work too.  Tube socks with the toe cut out will function as sleeves if you don’t want to wear a long sleeved shirt. (There are few style points at 4:30 in the morning).

If you are using a waist pack or belt, this is a good time to get that ready.  You may want to carry:
  • Cell Phone
  • Camera
  • iPod & Headphones
  • Sports gels
  • Tylenol
  • Biofreeze
  • Wet Wipes
  • Ziplock bag w/toilet paper
  • Small amount of cash
  • Hotel key
  • ID

Make sure that any electronics devices (cell phone, camera, iPod, sports watch, heart rate monitor) are FULLY CHARGED the night before.  Nothing worse than having something go kaput at the start line and still have to carry it the whole distance.

If you are going to use gels/blocks/beans/snacks during the run, decide which ones and how many.  Better to decide now, than to take a chance on forgetting them in the rush to get out the door in the morning.  And again, stick with what you are familiar with from your training.  This is not the time to try that new Jalapeno-Mango gel you picked up at the Expo.  If you plan on carrying your own hydration, make sure that it is mixed and ready to go for the morning.

Foil packets that have two Tylenol capsules are easy to carry and not too difficult to open if you may need some pain relief on the road.  Avoid NSAIDs (like ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Aleve) before or during a run.  According to Runners World, “NSAIDs decrease blood flow to the kidneys, which regulate salt levels. If you also overhydrate, this heightens your risk of developing hyponatremia, a low concentration of sodium in the blood.”  Save the anti-inflammatory NSAIDs for a few hours after the run.

Ziplock bag with toilet paper???  Consider these scenarios, late run Porta-potty stop where several thousand runners who have already stopped ahead of you OR you really, really, really have to go now, and there’s nothing in sight but some trees and bushes …enough said?

Packing your check-in bag:
  • Dry Shoes/Sandals/Socks
  • Change of Clothes
  • Wet Wipes
  • Recovery Drink

If you use a powdered recovery drink and there will be water at the finish, you can just put the powder in a sports bottle and dump water in when done.  Less chance of it spilling out in your bag and you get a colder drink.

Some wet wipes and a towel can help clear away some of the road grime and sweat stains.  A clean, dry shirt and comfortable shoes after the event are most welcome.  Some people have changed clothes in a bathroom stall, but don’t count on having a place to modestly change clothes. 

There will be food and drinks available at the finish area, but, if you are used to a specific recovery food or drink, you may prefer to pack your own in your check bag.  Be careful with cash or any other valuables in your check-in bag.  They may be safe, but there are no guarantees.  Anything that you will need immediately after finishing, and before you return to your hotel, goes into your check-in bag.

Before going to bed, you should also consider what to do about breakfast.  I'm pretty sure all of the on property resorts will open their food courts early.  But they may have limited choices.  So best to check with the front desk to see if the food court will be open, when it opens, and what they might be serving.  You may prefer to have something in your room.  In which case, you might want to get some bagels, fruit, juice, etc to keep in your room.  If your room has a mini-fridge or a kitchen, then you have more options.  If your room has an in-room coffee maker and you have to have a cup-o-joe in the morning, make sure that you have the necessary supplies (filters, cups, sweetener, cream) and if you are not familiar with the coffee maker, look over the instructions beforehand.  Your goal is to do anything to make the morning go smoothly.

If you are staying on property, you will want to find out when and where to catch WDW transportation to the start line.  Monorail and bus transportation on race mornings will start at 3am!  They also say though that you MUST be on Disney transportation to get to the start line NO later than 4am.  Make sure you're not late!  If you are driving yourself, be aware that some roads will be closed so make sure you know a good route to the start. 

This is not the time to plan a race strategy.  Pacing, run/walk intervals, meeting up with family and friends (before, during, and after), all of these details should be planned days and weeks before the race.  Not in the last few hours when you are trying to fall asleep.  Having these plans written down a day or two ahead of time will help put your mind at ease and allow you to relax.

Now, go to bed and try to get some sleep!  That's an order! :)


  1. So many things to think about! I hate that Disney makes everyone get there so early! lol For Wine and Dine, we sat and sat and sat some more...lol When it's cold outside, that is MISERABLE!!

    Nice post...thanks for sharing all of the insight! :0)

  2. I am having insane butterflies today .... and I am still 2 months out. I think this will be another post of yours I will print and throw in my luggage. Couldn't hurt to have someone reminding me of things to lay out the night before!

    I am going to be REALLY stinky at the end of this, aren't I!?!

  3. Good suggestions. I've been to WDW many times but never for a race and never at 3 a.m. I'm doing the "race retreat" thing - I like the idea of private port-o-pots and a place to lounge pre-race.

    What are your thoughts on the Expo? Is it worth a long perusal or just a short stop? Do they carry lots of Marathon merchandise?

  4. where did you find that Mickey graphic!!!??? i want it on a tech shirt!

  5. @Karen...Yeah, I HATE that we have to get there so early too. Totally messes up my eating/planning/etc. At least for W&D we got to sit in the grass and not concrete.

    @Ronda...I'm totally having butterflies too. That's why it's taking me a bit to get out the next post. And print away! I'm just glad I can help some people out with all this info!

    @Ed...I'd love to hear how the Race Retreat is. I was debating doing it but decided against it this year. I personally enjoy the expo, I usually schedule an hour or two to browse everything. For the January races they do have a lot of official race merchandise. It's hit or miss though if it's something you'd like. I probably liked half of what was for sale, the rest I thought was tacky or useless.

    @Daniel... cute, right? :) We might need to work that into a shirt for both of us!