31 December, 2010

Disney Running 101 Part 6: Race Day!

So we've finally made it!  Race Day!  

See you 2011!

Before the Race

The alarm goes off at some ungodly hour and you awaken from a deep restful slumber...yeah, right.

Time to start getting ready!

Showering before the run is optional (afterward, it is strongly recommended for the sake of everyone around you).

Even at zero-dark-thirty in the morning, you might want to consider sunscreen. Especially in the full marathon, the mid- to back of the packers may be out in the Florida sunshine around mid-day. Even on a cloudy day, you can get overexposed to UV rays. So, trust me on the sunscreen, and slather some of that all-day, can’t sweat it off, waterproof sunscreen. Your dermatologist will thank you when you get older.

Consider chaffing prevention. Anywhere skin rubs skin, or skin rubs clothing will be a source of irritation. Application of Vaseline, Body Glide, or similar products can help prevent chaffing. Typical applications would be:

  • Feet, especially between the toes.
  • Inner thighs
  • Under arms
  • Back of neck where shirt rubs
  • Wast band of shorts
  • Mid section where waist pack or belt will ride
  • Heart monitor strap
  • Sports bra area
  • For the guys...nip guards, bandaids, or heavy Vaseline treatment
Basically, if it can get rubbed over 13.1/26.2 miles, it will. Be liberal with the protection now.

Your running clothes are ready from the night before....put them on. :)

Ready for the morning!
Everything laid out the night before

Some prefer to carry their running shoes and to wear their comfy shoes, figuring that they are going to be wearing the runners long enough, and then change shoes just before bag check.  Again, do what you feel most comfortable with.

Eat breakfast in your room or head on out to the food court. The food courts can and will get crowded on race morning, even at 3am.  Pop Century in 2010 was a zoo when we walked in yet in 2011 it was very quiet! You just never know!  The excitement in the air was indescribable though. Everyone was ready to run!

Fueling up with Pb and bagels
Trying to get down breakfast

Go ahead and get started on topping off that hydration. It is still a few hours until start time, but start sipping on water before hand. Try for about 8 to 16 ounces of fluid, but stop drinking about 1 hour before the start to avoid early pit stops.

As you head out the door for the bus or your car, have a final checklist to review:

  • Hat/Visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Bib
  • Timing Chip
  • Toss Away Clothes
  • Check-in Bag
  • Electronics
    • Garmin/Heart Monitor
    • Cell phone
    • Camera
    • MP3 player
  • Waist pack/belt
  • Hydration belt
  • Trash Bag to sit on (or wear)
  • Room key (cause you kinda need to get back into your room)
  • Car key (if needed)
  • Money (I usually carry a $20 or so just in case)
  • Bottled water or sports drink

Head out to the buses and catch that ride to the start area.  The lines can and will get long so try to get there early and don't wait until the last minute!  When you arrive, go and check your bag if you have one, and head to your meetup location if you planned on meeting anyone before the race.  If not?  Just take it all in!

Be aware that only racers with bib numbers are allowed past the checked bag tent and in the start areas. If you are wearing some outer layers of clothing, you may have to raise a shirt or open a jacket to show your bib number. Don’t worry about pinning your number to the outside of your throw away clothing. You may forget to remove it before tossing that old sweat shirt; and you may not have time to take it off and re-pin it to your race shirt. Just make sure you can flash someone your bib number if you need to.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to walk from the waiting areas at Epcot to the start line. It's a decent trek! We usually start heading over 20-30 minutes prior to the start of the race. Gives us a few minutes to mentally prepare when we're in the corral.

During the Race

The start!
Official Start photo from ASI

You've prepared yourself with all of the training the past months so be confident you can do this!  The best piece of advice that I can honestly give is to go out and have fun!  You're in Disney!  Make sure to try to take it all in.  It's definitely overwhelming but amazing.

If you have a camera with you, USE IT!  Take as many memories with you as possible.  When it comes to characters along the course, that's up to you if you want to stop or not.  My rule during last year was that if there were less than 5 people on line, I would be willing to stop and it won't affect my time TOO much.  If I didn't want to wait, I would just snap a pic as I ran by.  :)

With the alligator from Princess & the Frog

Out on the course, you need to stop all negative thoughts. This is what you have trained for, and what you have been looking forward to with anticipation. Concentrate on the feeling of accomplishment, and how proud your family and friends will be. Banish any of those negative thoughts and doubts. And above all, take the time to enjoy the spectators, the participants, the sights and sounds of this experience. This is your moment!

Now onto the boring technicalities of actually running....

Two key concerns are hydration and fueling during the run. For hydration, don’t pass up the fluid stations on the course. Early on, drinking just water is fine. But no later than 60 minutes into the run, you should be consuming some sports drink.  You should aim to consume 3-6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes.  If the temperature climbs above 70, you may need to drink more.  Alternate between plain water and sports drinks at the fluid stations.  If you are sweating heavily, you should be drinking even more.

If you are drinking on the move, pinch the cup to make a smaller opening and drink through this small V opening. You will end up wearing less of the liquid....not that I know from experience or anything...

If the course mix of sports drink is too strong for you, grab a cup of water, dump some out (look around you first), then grab a cup of sports drink and pour some into the water cup.  If bringing your own bottles, and are worried about running out, grab cups from the water stops and fill up your bottle along the way.

For fueling, stick to what you've been training with.  Gu's, Shot Blocks, pretzels, twizzlers, etc.

If you do feel a severe increase in pain, do consider dropping out. No race is worth the risk of serious injury.  There are medical tents and medical personnel available along the course. It is also helpful to recognize the warning signs of dehydration/heat illness (headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, weakness, irritability, vomiting, heat flush, abnormal chills) and hyponatremia, or over hydration (swollen hands/feet, confusion, dizziness, throbbing headache, nausea, apathy, severe fatigue, cramping, bloated stomach, wheezy breathing).

If you need assistance, be sure to check in with the medical staff. That is what they're there for and they are awesome!

As well as everything above, there are some rules of etiquette for making the race more enjoyable, for yourself and for those around you...

- Pay attention to announcements. There may be important last minute changes that you need to be aware of.

- Start in the correct Corral. If you are a slower runner or a walker, don’t try to get to far in the front. Let the faster people get on their way, and let the congestion clear out.

- Try not to weave in and out of traffic until things have had a chance to spread out. Weaving expends energy and could be a tripping hazard.

- If you are running with a group, don’t spread out more than 2 abreast. Allow runners behind to get around.

- If you do pass someone, pass on the left. And give a verbal, “Passing on your left”, or “On your left” to let someone know that you are there. Also, check behind you before passing to make sure you aren’t cutting someone else off.

- If you need to stop, slow down, or speed up, give a quick look behind you to make sure you are not impeding others. Raising you hand and calling out “Walking” will let others know that you are slowing down so they can adjust. Then move to the right side before slowing/stopping.

- Most people slow down through the water station. Be aware of this. If you do not intend to get a drink, stay to the middle of the road. Try to keep moving through the water station. If you must stop, wait until you have cleared the station, then move to the side before stopping.

- As you approach the water station, pay attention to the volunteers. They may have both water and sports drink. Make sure you know which you are getting (don’t want to pour that sports drink over you head to cool off). And be sure to thank the volunteers, smile and be courteous.

- Don’t just drop empty cups on the road where they may be a hazard. Try to toss empties to the shoulder of the road, or into a garbage can if possible and practical.

- Move predictably, and watch the arm swing. Avoid sudden direction changes and don’t fling your
arms out.

- Look before you spit, sneeze, or vomit. Please.

- Don’t be a hog. At the water stations, and at the finish line, if you need fluids and/or food take what you need, but remember there may be others behind you that need some too.

- Don’t stop when you cross the finish line. Once across the line, slow down and follow the directions of the race officials. Others may be sprinting for the finish line right behind you.

- The 2 abreast rule still applies at the finish line. Even though you might want that great picture of your group of 6 crossing together, remember that the person behind you really wants his personal record (PR) or Boston Qualifying time (BQ) and may be sprinting for the finish. The rules of courtesy remain the same throughout the entire race, including at the finish line.

- Congratulate the other participants at the finish.

- Smile! You never know when a camera will be on you.

At the Finish Line

Crossing the finish line :)
That's me on the right in purple! :)

You’ve reached the finish line, so now it is all over, right?  Not at all!

Someone at the finish area may try to wrap a mylar blanket around you; go ahead and take it (if nothing else, you just scored a mylar blanket! Sweet!). Why do they do this after an endurance run? Well, when you stop a strenuous (and sweaty) exercise, while wearing lightweight, breathable clothing, and are outside, then any wind will evaporate the sweat from your exposed skin and body heat will be taken away.  Now that you have stopped running, you begin to cool down. However, when the body loses more heat then it produces, hypothermia can result (mild hypothermia is defined as a body temperature between 90 and 95 degrees F). The blanket is a preventative measure, and if you find you don’t need it, you can always take it off later. The mylars are also great to use to keep warm before your next early morning race.

Keep walking for at least 10 minutes. Take a nice easy pace to allow the body to gradually come down. Blood needs to circulate back to normal distribution and regions of the body (such as the stomach for digestion). Lactic acid and other waste products need to be flushed from the muscles.

Drink a sports drink as soon after your finish. Sports drinks increase blood sugar levels and electrolyte levels. You have just sweated away significant amounts of salts and other electrolytes. Plain water can dilute the concentration levels even more, resulting in a serious electrolyte imbalance. Eating salty foods like pretzels also help with restoring electrolytes.

Try to get something to eat within 30 minutes of finishing. Eat something rich in carbohydrates, a little lean protein, and low in fat. Grab a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, an apple, or a sports bar. Eating will replenish depleted glycogen stores as well as provide the protein needed to start rebuilding damaged muscle. The body is very receptive to absorbing fuel within a 60-90 minute window following strenuous exercise.

Some people may not have an appetite after finishing. In that case, try a recovery drink such as Clif Shot Recovery, EAS, Powerbar Recovery Drink, Boost, Ensure, or simply chocolate milk. Chocolate milk as a recovery drink is a very good source (and good balance) of carbs and protein. These drinks may not be available in the food area, but you can pack one (with the exception of the chocolate milk) in your checked bag.

Waiting more than 30 minutes to stretch, after your tired muscles have cooled down, increases the chance of injury. So stretch gently and slowly while your body is still warm.

Post Race

Consider an ice bath within 2 hours of finishing. The ice slows down the blood flow which reduces swelling and inflammation. The 2 hour wait is necessary because you don’t want to slow down the blood flow until the body has had time for normal circulation to flush waste products from the muscles and to replenish nutrients. Sit in a tub with lukewarm or room temperature water that covers your feet, legs and hips. Start adding the ice, and more cold water if necessary. This is less of a shock then just plunging into a tub of icy water. How long should the ice bath last? No more than 10-15 minutes. You can wear a shirt, sweat shirt or towel to keep your upper body warm. Plus I drink tea.  Also, move your legs around as you soak so that the cold water gets to all parts of your legs and hips.

An ice bath not sounding like your cup-of-tea? Then try walking in the shallow end of the pool (at least waist deep), even just taking a cool bath will help, or you can simply use those plastic bags to make up some ice packs that you can put on your knees, hips, or ankles.

After the ice bath, you can take a luke-warm shower to clean up. Avoid hot showers or hot baths for at least 24 hours. Your muscles and joints are already inflamed. Hot showers/baths increase blood flow, which can lead to increased inflammation, and didn’t you just take an ice bath to reduce inflammation? For the same reason, avoid hot tubs. Putting on some clean compression gear (tights, calf sleeves, etc.) after your clean-up can also help.

Wait about three hours after your finish, to begin to take NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, etc) to help reduce inflammation and pain. A rule of thumb is to start NSAIDs after you know your kidneys are working. Wait until you can urinate and don’t start with the NSAIDs until then, no matter how long it has been.

After the ice bath, you may be tempted to crawl back into bed and catch a quick nap. Fight that temptation, otherwise you will wake up about dinner time stiff and sore. Not to mention spending another night unable to sleep.

Besides, you have some serious bragging time to put in!  Put on some clean clothes, comfortable shoes, your medal, and head out for one of the parks. The more you walk around, the better you will feel over the next few days. Continue hydrating throughout the day. Eat simple balanced foods; avoid fried or greasy food. And enjoy all of the adulation and attention you will get wearing your well earned medal.

However, you must listen to your own body. If your feet or legs are painful or swollen, or you have blister issues, a more prudent option may be to apply massive doses of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Your recovery is complete when you go from “Never again…” to checking the calendar for upcoming races. You know you want to.... :)

Disney Photopass Pics


  1. Thanks for the detailed information! :) Sounds like important stuff to know. I jotted down some notes to remember.

  2. Really great set of posts for the first time runner! Thanks for putting it together and sharing. I feel much more prepared and have an idea of what to expect now. Last training run coming up this weekend! Now ... I have to go and print out that packing list post :)

  3. I will admit that wile I am not much of a Disney person this race looks amazingly fun!

  4. How cool! I stayed at POP last year too! lol Awesome advice! You have me nervous now...especially since I came looking for a packing list! Hah!

  5. I can't say it enough ... Thank you for all of these posts!! I learned so much in this one. Having only maxed out at 10Ks, a lot of this is all new territory for me. I feel like I get more out of it when I read tips from a fellow blogger versus a book or magazine. It feels more personal, like you are sharing your own advice and experience -- helps it soak in more. So thank you so much! This even caused me to add some compression clothes to my packing list for after the race.

    Funny - as I sit here I am wishing I had my ice pack, and I just unwrapped my knee .... there was a lot of running this weekend ... but it doesn't scare me off at all. I am only getting more and more excited now that it is 2011 and my first 1/2 is just around the corner! ºoº

  6. @Cate...You're welcome! Hopefully I didn't leave out anything too important!

    @Patrick...I still haven't printed out the packing list either. Should probably follow my own advice, right?

    @Laurie...It's definitely a great time! I know a few non-Disney fans that have run it multiple times and enjoy it.

    @Karen...Everyone's blog posts are getting me nervous, even my own! :(

    @Ronda...You're VERY welcome! Seriously, I would have been lost without all of this information last year so I'm just glad I can pass it on.

  7. Just reading this has got me super excited. I can visualize myself going around the park with my medal and just having a great time!!!

  8. @Anonymous...thanks! Hope you had a great race!

  9. Oh. My. Gosh! This is a GREAT piece! I'm PINNING it for later...

  10. @Kris...thank you! Let me know if you have any questions! :)

  11. I am running my first Half Marathon and it just happens to be the Tinkerbell Half on Jan 20th (10 day till we leave EEEKKK). Your blog has been an AMAZING resource. Like I said this is my first race and all these tip are amazing and I feel WAY more prepared. Thanks for all the info :)

    1. You're welcome! Hope you had a great race!

  12. Thank you soooo much for this! I just signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon and I'm planning to do the Wine and Dine Half in November!

    1. You're welcome! Two great races :)

  13. I nkow this post is old but I'm hoping you're still reading comments! :)

    We are doing the Disney Half in January and we are planning to do a little baby-wipe cleanup and change clothes after the race and then go into Epcot with our family right after the race. Is the ice bath and all still good to do even a few hours later? We're planning to go back after lunch for the kid's naptimes so it would be around 1pm. Oh, and how long does the ice bath need to be? Sounds like torure but I'm up for it if it helps prevent soreness!

    1. I think the ice bath is supposed to be within 30 mins to an hour after the race but since you'll be walking around immediately after, that might help too. Just keep moving so you don't get too tight. Good luck!