Welcome to runDisneyBelle’s Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide! This is part one of a six-part series I’ve designed to quell the jitters and answer some questions about this popular race. I will be catering this guide to the firsties out there who will be running their very first PHM, or their very first race EVER, and this can also serve as a refresher for the Princess veterans, as well.
PHM is special to me, as this was my first race ever! 2016 will be my fourth Princess Half Marathon and my third Glass Slipper Challenge. I’m excited to share my knowledge with you all!
So let’s get started, shall we? Got your snackies and beverages? Great! Here we go…
Episode I: The Race-Packing Menace….Where Did My Socks Go?
So you’re standing next to your empty luggage, elated and ready to pack for the race! What do you bring? WHAT. DO. YOU. BRING?! You see a sea of sneakers, tulle, glitter, race fuel, clothes, toiletries, etc. on your bed and on the floor around your bed, maybe strewn out into the hallway and down the steps. The dog may have stolen your socks and is hiding them because he doesn’t want you to leave. The scene is chaotic, your mind just went to mush, and you’re about to cry pixie dust.
Never fear. Here is a list of what you should bring for a fantastic PHM racecation!
- Personal Items: I’m talking logistical things that will absolutely wreck your vacay if you forget them:
A. Medications, inhalers, knee/wrist braces
B. Money/credit cards/cash/etc.
C. Reservations (plane, hotel, dining/ADR,)
D. If you’re driving (like me!), your road map/GPS/direction. Speaking of vehicles, make sure to check the important stuff before you leave. Air pressure, oil, wiper fluid…
E. Magic Bands, if you use them for your Disney Vacation.
2. Race Items (If you’re flying, make sure your carry-on luggage has your race essentials, especially #1.)
- YOUR SHOES. If you forget your shoes and have to buy new ones at the expo, your feet will hurt. Badly. Better pick out names for the new blister babies that will form on your feet.
2. Socks. Go rescue them from the dog right now. I’ve had to do this before:
3. Undergarments, especially sports bras for the ladies. Wear what you’ve worn during training.
4. Whatever you’re wearing for each race. Put these outfits together and place them into large labeled Ziploc bags.
5. Any accessories (tutus, tiaras, fairy wings, wands, etc.) that will accompany your race outfits.
6. Your FUEL. You can pick up some of this at the expo, like GU gels or Nuun. I use EnergyBits (which have yet to make their way to a runDisney expo), so that goes right in my purse next to my wallet. (I love being #poweredbybits!)
7. Electronics: Cell phone. Fitness watch. Ipod. Headphones. All chargers. Nothing sucks more than getting to Runner’s Village and seeing your devices not fully charged.
8. Armpockets, Spibelts, Flipbelts, water backpacks, vests…whatever you use to hold all the things you’ll need on the course or use for hydration. (FYI, THEY WILL CHECK THESE AT PRE-RACE SECURITY. ANYTHING WITH A ZIPPER IS SUBJECT FOR A SEARCH.)
9. Past medals: If you’re planning on taking any kind of legacy picture post-race or in the parks, bring these with you. Or try your luck and ask someone who DOES have them if you can wear them for your own picture! (I had this happen in 2015. I passed my medals around and I got invited to hang with a group in MK for the rest of the day, including being added on their Be Our Guest dining reservation. Best day ever, and we’re all still great friends!)
10. Any spare space blankies, or throwaway clothing. You will probably be chilly standing around in the corrals waiting for the race to begin. Once you get moving, many shed these outer layers. They all get collected and donated to charity!
Note on space blankets: If it’s cold as hell outside (last year’s Frozen 5K and Enchanted 10K were in the 30’s) and you decide to run with your space blanket, MAKE SURE TO OPEN IT UP AS YOU CROSS THE TIMING MATS. The material used for the blankets affects the ability to transfer the electronic info from the timing chip to the mat, so your times may be inaccurate if you’re running about all wrapped up.
11. Race-related toiletries. I’m talking Body Glide, deodorant, tampons, anti-chafing things, face wipes for after, sunscreen…
12. Sticks/foam rollers/possibly a yoga mat for stretching?
13. Compression items, if you use them: socks, sleeves, etc.
14. More socks and perhaps a spare pair of shoes. If you’re doing multiple races and one pair gets wet, you don’t know for sure if they’ll be dry for the next day. Also, wet socks are awful. Simply awful. Nothing feels better than dry socks after taking wet ones off.
15. Backup outfits for the races. Have one cold-weather outfit and one hot-weather outfit. You’ll be thankful later in case Elsa decides to show up.
16. Sun stuff. Sunscreen (a must), sunglasses, hats, visors (only if you’re used to running with them).
17. Post-race footwear. Your feet will be sore and swollen. Flip flops or other comfy footwear is essential for happy feet.
Other racecation things
1. Personal toiletries: shampoo/conditioner/body wash/lotion/makeup/ etc.
2. Outfits for park walking/hanging out. Bring articles that you can mix and match easily.
3. OUTFITS FOR BOTH COLD AND HOT WEATHER. Florida weather in February is never really accurate, and you can experience all four seasons in the span of an hour.
4. Extra food you may need. If your hotel has an inadequate breakfast station or you simply don’t want to purchase overpriced park food, consider heading into town and/or bringing your own. (I brought Luna bars and oatmeal with peanut butter for WDW Marathon weekend.)
Okay, your packing list is taped to the fridge and you cross another day off of the calendar. You’re getting excited! Yay! Now it’s time to get real….
We are a month away from race day. This is when things are going to start getting serious training-wise. If you haven’t already, start getting some miles under your legs. Many of you that are following training plans may notice that you have some high-mileage weeks coming up. Starting now, will have three (possibly four) weekends remaining to get long runs in. (I say four if you decide to do a semi-long run on Sunday the 14th, which is the Sunday before PHM). I highly recommend doing at least one “Mock Race Day” where you recreate the distance you will experience. Personally, I have my schedule set for Three Mock GSCs starting on the 30th of January: Saturdays will be 10K, and Sundays will be 13.1. Wear your race day outfit (yes, that means tutus, too!), use your race fuel, hydrate, listen to your music,…do everything you’re going to do on this run (or these runs) that would emulate race day. IF anything goes wrong, you still have time to fix it.
Everyone’s training plans are different, and sometimes life does get in the way. (Before my first PHM in 2013, I dealt with wisdom teeth surgery and passing a kidney stone. The longest run I got in before race day was 10 miles, but I finished in 3:25!) Do your best to remain consistent. If you want to taper (set aside a week or two of decreased mileage prior to race day), that is up to you. In the days before the race, keep loose by walking around and stretching, but stay relatively conservative. Don’t blow your energy reserves by staying at the expo for six hours looking at all the shiny things, or walking loops around EPCOT. You will feel it the next day. Trust me.
Regarding diet and race day nutrition…now is not the time to be experimenting with new things. You know what works best for you, so use it. Keep your meals healthy, as this will fuel your body. (I cut out 99% of alcohol starting one month before race day, and while some cannot fathom this, I feel amazing, and find this works best for me.) It may be tempting to try new goodies at the expo, but save these for AFTER; you never know if something new will upset your stomach, or (even worse) you find out you’re allergic to it. We all want a happy, magical race, and a tummy episode will kill that dream. I reiterate a race lesson from the 2015 MCM: “Nothing new on race day. Seriously. Not even a good luck charm.”
Quick note on coffee….ahhh yes. Good ol’ java. Can’t really start the morning without it. Trust me, I’m a bit of a coffee junkie and cannot resist a vanilla latte (my favorite!) from Main Street U.S.A. However, thanks to the housekeepers at my hotel who didn’t refresh my depleted coffee supply, I surprisingly didn’t have any for two days during WDW Marathon weekend (day before the race and the day of), and I survived the race without problems. Now, 2015’s PHM was a different story. I purchased coffee in Runner’s Village (you can buy things there!), and ended up getting delayed not just in MK’s bathrooms (long lines just to pee), but also along Mile 10 where I took ten minutes doing my other business. I KILLED my chances of a 20-minute PR due to coffee consumption and I’m still kicking myself in the ass because of it.
If you plan on having it, have it early enough so you can get your PRPs (pre-race poops) out of the way and carry on with your day. The energy at Runner’s Village will be electric at 4AM…you may not even need it!
This wraps up Part One! If there’s anything I forgot, please feel free to add it in the comments or a Tweet or a FB post!
You’ve now landed in Florida and have settled into your hotel. You’ve remembered all the things, and you’re deciding what to do next. Grab a Mickey pretzel (carbs are good!)? Take a nap? Go for a lazy swim?
How about…get your bib and explore the Expo?
PHM Survival Guide, Episode Two: Attack of the Expo, coming soon!