Let’s Talk: Cone Alley

We’re two weeks from Princess Half 2018 weekend, and a hot topic among veterans and rookies alike is how to navigate the dreaded Cone Alleys that sprinkle the course.

First, let’s locate these on the map:

Mile 4-ish: This one of the biggest elevation changes in the race, and it is just past the TTC parking lot. You will descend and then ascend as you go under a bridge. Upon ascension, you will run parallel to Contemporary Resort and head toward Space Mountain.

Study these pictures for a moment. Not only do you have one half of a road to run on, and cars WILL be on the other side, so don’t think about jumping the cones, but you have a sidewalk on your left. Don’t be so caught up in taking pictures that you trip and fall. Many runners eat concrete here, so mind your footing and if you need to walk, stay to the right. You’re gonna be pushing to make it up the hill, so focus on making it.

Second area is just after the 6.8 halfway mark behind Magic Kingdom. This is the worst of the two Alleys:

Cones go on for at least a mile and a half or more. You will run with Grand Floridian on your left and the golf courses on your right. You’ll have shade at least for a little bit until the sun peaks and then you’re roasting.

When runners turn the corner and see these, their mental state immediately goes down the toilet. You don’t have much room to move, and the grass on the sloping hills to the left of the road will still be wet. Don’t run in this unless you want wet shoes! This will end around 8.something, near the Jelly Belly station and the road opens up again.


Navigating Cone Alley takes patience, and a whole hell of a lot of it. Pace groups will be run/walking, friends will hog the road seven-deep, and all forms of etiquette go out the door, along with your pace. Don’t be surprised if you add 5+ minutes a mile in this section.

Do your best to run single file in this section. Share the road with other runners. People tend to get nasty and cranky, so don’t let them deter your mood. Play some happy music and think good thoughts.

If you are grooving and come up to a wall of people, do not be afraid to loudly say, “Excuse me, runner coming through!” and break that wall. They’ll be pissy for two seconds, but let it go; it’s your race, not their’s.

Don’t even think about jumping those cones. That empty lane is reserved for emergency vehicles and other traffic. You risk getting hit, or taken out of the race by officials if caught. Orlando Police line these alleys and keep an eye out for jumpers. Don’t get arrested.


Any other advice for navigating Cone Alley?! Sound off in the comments!

Diet and Mileage: How I Prepare for Princess Half Weekend

Princesses and princes, we’re roughly two weeks away from PHM weekend! Woohoo! *confetti*

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Now is the time to start fine-tuning our diets and mileage in anticipation of race weekend. For many, the timeline varies. I will share here what has worked (and not worked) in the past, and would love to know some of your secrets for optimal performance come race day!

Around a month out from race weekend, I start planning final runs/workouts and altering my food intake by eliminating or adding certain items. I find the one-month window to be the best for me; my body reacts very well, and I don’t drive myself insane with certain deprivations. Granted, I am human, so I slip up every once in a while, but I get back on track very quickly as I constantly remind myself that if I feel miserable now, it’s going to reflect on my race performance and overall happiness while in Disney, and nobody wants a cranky princess!

Here are a few of my tips and tricks:


Diet

          Alcohol—I go a month sober. (Giving up booze is incredibly easy for me, and my wallet is super happy. I didn’t do this for my first PHM and you can see the bloaty-ness in my picture…gross!) The extra detox time is awesome, and I can replace it with delicious teas and Nuun water.

Sweets/Dessert – Also for a month, I cut waaaay back on unnecessary sugars and sweets. Working in the restaurant business has its perks, and the dessert menu we have is extensive and delicious. After I got sick with Norovirus back in January (and subsequently expelled dessert on that day…), I’ve sworn off sweets for the time being. I’ll treat myself to a cookie or two once in a while, but I try to not go overboard.

Dairy—Heh. I have a love/hate relationship with this.  I LOVE cheese and creamer and milk. However, dairy items make me toot…and bloat. (See the common trend here? Everything makes my stomach bloat. Argh.) Again, I lay off the creamy stuff until post-race.

Fiber—This was a huge mistake I made last year and it threw my chances of a huge PR at the half marathon. My fiber intake wasn’t optimal in the weeks prior to the race, and I ended up with major stomach issues for race weekend (before, during, and after). I ran over to a nearby Publix for prune juice and fiber-happy foods, but it still didn’t make much of a difference.  Since then, I’ve committed to adding fiber-rich foods into my diet and using this as an area of focus in my training.

Protein: I love quinoa and beans (low-sodium). Mixing them into salads is one of my favorite things now. They’re stomach-friendly and provide long-lasting energy.

Grains: I try to avoid squishy bread items like bagels or muffins. (Again, major stomach bloat. I worked in a bagel shop during 2015 PHM and you can really tell that I enjoyed eating there. See picture below.) Granted, I do need carbs. I stick with toast or English muffins or cereal. Granola bars are also a favorite.

Fruits and Vegetables: I’m a natural rabbit. I love my greens and delicious fruits. Favorites include apples (especially for the fiber), pineapple, oranges (early morning pick-me-up), tomatoes, spinach, various legumes, and bell peppers.


Mileage/Exercise:

The month before race weekend is Beast Mode time (provided that life doesn’t happen to derail those plans). I add additional strength training and cardio to my workouts, with long runs on the weekends. I’ve found that your arms get just as much of a workout as your legs do, so do not neglect those bicep curls or tricep extensions! Your abs also need some love, especially your obliques. The side-to-side movement that your upper body does will get very sore very quickly if you do not work this section out. Stretching is also a primary focus; feeling loose and relaxed is far better than that “stiff as a board” feeling.

I add at least one “Mock GSC Weekend” where I emulate race day conditions. Since I run Glass Slipper, this includes a Saturday and Sunday of a 10K and a half marathon (or mileage that is very close to 13.1). For those of you that are firsties for any race or combination thereof, I would HIGHLY suggest taking advantage of this at least two weeks before race weekend. It’s good to shake some of those pre-race jitters, and to get your body used to early wakeups on multiple days. 2:30AM does come quickly!

If you are running in costume, take it on a test run or two to see what does and doesn’t work with it. I cannot count how many discarded tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, and miscellaneous things that have fallen off runners in the first 500 meters of this race. Take extra care that things won’t slide or fall off. Nobody wants to risk tripping and crashing on the highway because their feet got entangled in your tulle. Same goes for any new piece of running equipment you’ll have (visors, belts, arm bands, iPods, sunscreen, etc.). Test drive these and see what works.

As always…nothing new on race day!

What diet and mileage tricks do you use as you prepare for race day?

2017 PHM/GSC Waivers and Corrals

Greetings, princesss, princes, and runners everywhere! It’s that time of the year again…PRINCESS HALF MARATHON WEEKEND!

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We are three weeks away from race weekend, and there are plenty of topics to cover! I noticed that many of you have taken to reading my Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide series over the last month, and I am soooooo happy that you have! As always, if you have questions, let me know and I shall try to answer them the best that I can.

To get started, there are a few logistical items to go over. Just today, corrals and waivers got released!

If this is your first runDisney event, fear not. Here is how you go about navigating this strange new world and deciphering the corrals!

  1. Head to: https://www.rundisney.com/princess-half-marathon/
  2. Click on “Runner Info” and scroll down to Waivers.
  3. Download your waiver by clicking the link and filling out the info:
  4. Print out your waiver and sign it! You’re done!

If you do not have access to a printer, you can print it out at the expo. Make sure you have your ID with you to present to the volunteer who will check you in.

When you view your waiver, you will see a number at the bottom of the page that indicates your bib number. Using this number, match it up with the corrals for PHM or GSC. If you are running GSC, you will get your 10K corral placement upon arrival to the expo.

We have 21 days, runners. Start shining those tiaras and stocking up on the pixie dust! Oh, and getting a few miles under your legs for those last long runs! 🙂  

If you can dream it, you can do it! Stay tuned for more Princess Half funtimes! 💖✨🎀

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. VII

Hey princesses and princes…

SURPRISE!!! *confetti cannons and fireworks*

That’s right! There’s one more Survival Guide episode for you all!

I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to release this episode, and I figured that it’s about that time. We’re less than a week out from when all of the Princess Half weekend excitement goes down, and the energy is ramping up on the social media feeds. Outfits are being displayed, encouragement being passed around, final training miles being run, and the taper crazies running rampant, as always. There’s a certain electricity that amplifies any runDisney event. With Princess Half weekend, however, I have noticed that it seems to be more prominent with this race than any of the others.

This final episode will be filled with motivation and positive thinking and pretty pictures. (runDisney released an album of motivational running pictures and quotes several years ago, and I’m glad I saved them to share.) Think of this episode as the narration to your weekend.

Got your snacks? Yay! Let’s go!


 

PHM Survival Guide, Ep. VII: The Race Awakens: Final Thoughts From Christina

I have mentioned this before: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. For many of us, that happens when you cross the finish line and can officially say, “I Did It!”

But the truth is, it happens far sooner….407811_580612858631347_62542001_n

 

Life begins when you make the decision to toe the line…to commit to the distance, the training, the long hours of pounding the pavement or track or treadmill to put the miles under your legs. To say, “Yes. I’m going to do this”, and follow through all the way until race day.

There is a lot of sacrifice when training for a race, as you all know: Giving up sleeping in on the weekends in exchange for greeting the sunrise of a new day with a workout… replacing your comfort foods with something more healthy that makes your body happy and fuels you…deciding to head home early and rest up instead of staying out with friends on a Friday night.

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Or on the flip of the coin…battling runner grumpies when you’re trying to find this thing called a runner’s high that everyone sems to talk about….fighting waves of apathy, sadness, and a disinterest in running….thinking, “Ugh, I have to wake up at X- time and run X-miles for a long run?” and promptly hiding under the covers. Your training may have been derailed by life or illness or other variables, and you might be discouraged and frustrated, thinking, “Why the hell did I even sign up for this?”

(All of this I have experienced before. You’re not alone.)

It can suck sometimes. It really can.

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But it will pay off. Even if you can’t see it now, showing up on race day is your dedication in action. Your costume/outfit is on, the feelings of excitement and anxiety churning in your stomach (it’s all those butterflies that are back again!), and you know there’s no going back. You’ve made it this far. Whether you’re a Perfect, a veteran, a firstie…the love is there for everyone. Everyone is sharing thoughts, feelings, anticipation…your hearts are in sync and eyes are on the prize.

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Everyone that toes the line has a story to tell. And these stories, while most remain unspoken, drive these races to be what they truly are: the gathering of athletes of all abilities to chase their dreams and accomplish their goals.

Next week, it’s go time. It’s time for your victory lap.

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The Fairy Godmother counts you down, the fireworks go boom, and you’re off on a magical journey of whichever distance you’ve signed up for. Take in the experience. The atmosphere and sights are unlike any other race you’ll ever participate in.

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For the firsties…no matter the distance, you’re accomplishing a feat that thousands before you have done. You’re following in the footsteps of even the most elite runners in history; they’ve all been there. Everyone has run their first race at some point in their lives. You’re now partaking in that tradition. Embrace your first race.

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On race day…race your race. This phrase may reflect many things: You may be running for a new PR…you may be running just to complete the distance to say that you did…you might be running miles in memory of someone…hell, you may be racing for an age award, or even for the win. Whatever your reason is, you’re here. You’re going to go the distance, just like the song says.

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When you cross the finish line, throw your hands in the air and cheer. You deserve a celebration. All the weeks and months, trials and tribulations, struggles and successes you’ve endured will culminate into an explosive euphoria that will rival anything you’ve ever felt before. Your life is going to change forever. Smile, cheer, cry, hug your friends. This is your time. Take it in. Enjoy it. By the time you get home, you’re going to want to do it all over again.

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See you at the finish line.

 

*~*Christina*~*

Team Shenanigans PHM Podcast

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I got my podcast debut recently.

Last week, I was asked by Chris Smith (@DopeyRunr) of Team Shenanigans to be a guest on their podcast which focused on previewing the Princess Half weekend! I teamed up with Chris, Brittany, Ken, Mark, and Caryn to cover a bunch of different topics (with typical Shenanigans humour) surrounding the upcoming race.

Here is the link: http://teamshenanigans.org/22-princess-half-marathon/

Happy listening!!

 

*~*Christina*~*

 

2016 PHM/GSC Waivers and Corrals

Waivers and corrals are finally available for Princess weekend! Woooooo!


 

Link for waivers:

http://trackshackresults.com/disneysports/waivers/princess_w16/verify.php


 

Once you have your number, check for your corral!

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Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. VI

Would you look at that…two weeks to go until we are descending upon the House of Mouse for Princess Half weekend! *hears the cheers*

My time with this here PHM Survival Guide is drawing to a close. We only have one episode left to cover pertinent information regarding the event, so let’s not waste any time! This episode will cover the post-race aspect. What really happens when you cross the finish line? How do you go about recovering, physically and emotionally, from such an event? How long should you wait until you’re back into a normal routine with your fitness?

Got your snacks? Great! Let’s go…


 

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode VI: Return of the Post-Race Blues…What Happens to You Physically and Emotionally After Your Race

Note from Christina: I ran across an article on p. 52-53 in the Dec. 2015 issue of Runner’s World titled, “Congrats! Now What?” by Bradley Stulberg. This episode will be pulling a great deal of information from that article, and I must give credit to him for writing and researching it. In fact, this episode will have several citations from other sources. Being a researcher, and knowing plagiarism is bad, I will cite my sources along the way.

You’ve crossed the finish line, received your medal(s), and you’re walking to the gEAR check tents, sweaty, tired, yet incredibly elated. YOU DID IT. You seriously did it! **happy dance**. You trained your ass off and made it all the way to the finish. You’ve earned the right to wear your “I Did It!” T-shirt and to blast on social media pretty pictures of you wearing your medals. Any time you’ve completed an athletic feat, you’ve earned bragging rights for days.

Also, you’ve earned a shower and a very long nap.

Before naptime though, here are a few things to keep in mind during the first 24-hours of your race, courtesy of Stulberg (p. 53):

Fruit-basket

Refuel, refuel, refuel. The first 24 hours post-race is what you’re going to be aiming for with regard to protein intake. You just put your body through an incredible test of endurance. The water, Powerade, bananas, and recovery boxes you’ve received at the end of the run are designed to replenish critical elements in your body that you’ve lost through exertion and sweating. Electrolytes, potassium, and sodium are way up there, along with sugar and protein. While I don’t suggest sitting down to a four-course dinner immediately afterwards, getting some sort of food into your body—especially protein and carby foods– is key for muscle recovery. (Stulberg quotes Corey Hart, a doctoral candidate and physiologist from the Univ. of Utah, as suggesting to “frequent snacks that are high in carbs by also contain 25 to 30 grams of protein” [p. 53].) Fruits are a fabulous way to refuel. Bananas, pineapple, and papaya are just a few examples of post-race happy foods: bananas have potassium, and tropical fruits contain bromelain and papain which have anti-inflammatory properties to speed up post-race recovery.

-While it’s great to relax—after all, you’ve earned it!– you definitely should continue moving around to some degree. It’s not great if you immediately get back to your hotel and flop on the bed without stretching. Lactic acid buildup is a real thing, and you won’t be able to move well after. You can go at a snail’s pace here, and compression clothing is your friend! I typically walk a park (EPCOT) after the half, just to keep things somewhat loose. I stretch and rest as I see fit, and let my body do its own thing. I wouldn’t recommend an action-packed day immediately following the race, as you will end up being more counterproductive in your healing.

-MAKE SURE TO CELEBRATE! Remember what I said about taking the pictures and smiling and being all happy and stuff? This is the time to do it. Neurologically, you’re going to be riding a high for quite awhile; your dopamine and serotonin levels will be through the roof. Be sure to bask in the fact that you completed your mission, reflect on the positive points during your race, and celebrate with friends. Wear those medals as long as you want to. It’s great walking the parks the days after…you’ll find runners wearing their medals and their t-shirts. Many will be offering their congratulations to you. Make sure you pay it forward, especially if you see a princess that might be lonely and doing the weekend solo!

-If you have problems sleeping, that’s okay. As aforementioned, you’ll be riding your post-race high for awhile. Once your body does start coming down from it, feel free to cuddle with your blankies and Mickey plushie. You deserve sleep.


Okay, so that covers the first 24 hours. The next window to you’ll encounter is the next 1-3 days. What happens?

-Stulberg mentions, “Active recovery expedites the body’s natural repair processes by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles” (p. 53). This is the time to walk about. I traditionally head to Magic Kingdom on Monday during PHM weekend and stay all day. I look like a penguin waddling about, but it really helps with recovery.

-You may be temped to go get a massage to alleviate the pain and tightness. It is advised that you wait a few days before receiving one. Stulberg quotes Hart, “You want to let your muscles heal, and deep-tissue massage can cause muscle damage” (p. 53). Your body is going to be transforming itself internally in the days and weeks to come. If you insist, I would suggest a light Swedish massage that isn’t too taxing on the body. (I don’t know about you, but when I get a deep-tissue massage, it’s like I just put my body through a marathon; it’s really sore for a few days after! Again, that’s just my opinion.)

-Continue basking in the fact that you completed the distance. For most, the post-race high is still running strong. For others, though, this may not be the case. Don’t try to ignore the feelings that are an result of having completed your race. Whether you had a great race or a not-so-great race, take the time to acknowledge what you’re feeling. This may be in the form of writing a race recap, posting pictures, tweeting, talking about it, whatever medium you’re comfortable with. After I got swept during the 2015 MCM, I wrote my recap for it. It was painful and I cried while writing it (it took me about two hours), but I came to terms about what I was internally feeling. In the days and weeks following, I used my story as personal motivation to finish the mileage when I went back to D.C. for the holidays.


How about up to a week after? Curious to know what happens? Read on…

-You’re going to be sore. You’re going to be sleepy. You might not want to get off the couch. Hart mentions that your hormonal system may be out of whack, especially if you’ve been training for extended periods for a distance (p.53). You naturally surpress the feelings of fatigue and exhaustion during your training period, and now that you’re done, it’s all rushing back. Don’t ignore this; maintain light activity levels so you can get all of your neurological levels back to normal.

InsideOut

The Post-Race Blues. This is huge, and 99% of us will encounter this in some way, on some level. Any time you get built up for a huge event, whether it’s a race, wedding, baby, something…there’s a degree of preparation and excitement leading up to it. The pain of dealing with the, “What now?” feelings after are more painful than the physical pain. After you train and prep for so many months and your excitement crescendos into one event, the after-effect can have your feeling unfulfilled. Your neurochemical levels are returning to normal, and the high may be wearing off. I have found this to be especially prominent with Disney events; you’re already heightened by the perfect hyperreality of the Disney concept, and you may fall into what I refer to as “The Disney Effect”. (You get so engrossed and absorbed into the seemingly perfect atmosphere that anything that isn’t Disney is way below you. Returning to the real world is an epic letdown.)

You may be tempted to sign up for another race the minute you get finished with Princess weekend. If you feel like you want to, that’s great! (The post-race high does crazy things for some of us. I signed up for the Historic Half after PHM 2014 and that was three months away in May.) Just keep in mind that you want your body to heal properly, so don’t react on emotion and sign up for everything in sight. I’d focus on one that’s at minimum a month away; your body will still be retaining its muscle memory from this weekend, and you won’t lose any significant degree of fitness in the process.


We got you through the first week. What about the two or three weeks following?

-Your body is still repairing itself. Surprisingly. Even if you feel amazing and you want to have a hard workout, restrain yourself. After the WDW Marathon, it took about four days until my body felt fantastic. As much as I wanted to run again, I didn’t. I even asked Patrick, my fabulous running buddy who has run seven marathons, what the window of recovery would be for after a full. He mentioned around a month. I almost spit out my coffee. He talked about the internal changes your body goes through, and while you may feel loosey goosey and ready to run again, try not to. I resigned to the fact that I would be essentially resting a lot longer than I wanted to.

If you absoutely have to run or do any kind of workout because you’re going to go nuts, follow Patrick’s advice: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Listen to your body and don’t push yourself like you would during your peak week before tapering. Gradually ease yourself back into a routine.


We’ve covered what happens physically and mentally to you after a race. This can be applied to almost any endurance event that you complete.

Now, with regard to PHM weekend-specific post-race stuff, there are several points to be made. Many people often forget that these things exist!

Medal pictures in the parks. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. Bring your medals with you and head to the parks for photo ops! If you’re a legacy runner of any sorts, you may be carrying more than one medal. (I brought all six of mine last year to MK. I met new friends who were also GSC legacy runners; I shared my medals and they invited me to hang out with them. Meeting new friends is always a grand time!)

Disney Springs/Downtown Disney Post-Race Celebration! There is post-race party over in DS/DTD after the PHM. Many restaurants and stores will have discounts for those sporting their finisher medals. Check the event guide for the specifics on these discounts and places of interest.

MyDisneyMarathon.com: In the coming weeks, your results will be posted online, along with your finisher’s certificate! Print this out and hang it on your running wall. You’ve earned it!

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My very first race!

 

MarathonFoto: The photographers will be diligently uploading and tagging your photos in the days and weeks following the race. DON’T FREAK OUT IF YOU DON’T SEE YOUR PHOTOS RIGHT AWAY. There will be many hundreds of thousands of photos that will have to be combed through and uploaded. Adopt the pace of nature: be patient.nature-patience-quote


 

We now have reached the end of the Princess Half Survival Guide. I am so happy that you’ve come along for the ride and (maybe) learned a few things along the way! I’ve had a lot of fun writing, researching, and sharing my running/Princess experiences. I hope to meet some of you during Princess Half weekend! If you have any questions that I can answer between now and race time, let me know!

See you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. V

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Hello, runners! *waves*

If you take a look at your calendar, we’re getting close to showtime. Three more weeks until we’re running through clouds of glitter while earning our tiaras and glass slippers!

We’ve come far in this journey of surviving the Princess Half. A wide variety of areas have been covered so far, from pre-travel packing to course layouts. However, I have neglected to talk about one area, and that is for a specific purpose:

It deserves its own episode.

Glass Slipper Challenge runners, are you ready?!


 

 

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode V: The Glass Slipper Strikes Back… How Not to Get Kicked Down the Palace Steps While Running 19.3 Miles.

For those of you that are going to be embarking on the challenge run that is GSC, I applaud your tenacity and motivation. 19.3 miles in two days is not an easy feat, so props for taking on the challenge! Whether this is your first GSC, or you’re like me and you’re heading for legacy status with your third, (or you’re even considering GSC in the future!), there are certain variables that are different with these types of runs that are in a league of their own when compared to a single run such as the 10K or the half. (Anyone that has completed Goofy, Dopey, Dumbo, or any other multi-day run can also attest to this).

This episode will take us into pre-race and race day logistics that will help you finish upright and with a smile on your face (and not kicked down the palace steps). This will also be a shorter episode than the others, but the information is just as critical.

Got your coffee and snackies? Great! Here we go…

GSC Pre-Race:

First of all, did you arrange your packing to the reflect that you’re running two races? Two outfits, two sets of fuel, animals going two by two? Good.

Logistics: Reminder…if you signed up for the 10K and half seperately, you’re not eligible for the GSC medal. You HAVE to have signed up for the challenge in order to receive it.

Expo

When you head to the expo, you’ll go to the HP Fieldhouse. (Make sure you take your picture with the GSC banner at the WWOS entrance!)

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They also have banners for the 5K, 10K, and PHM!

 

All GSC-related things will be over here (check-in, bibs, gEAR bags, etc.). Since you signed up for the challenge, you will be receiving the goodies that come with running a challenge run. Yay goodies! Not only will you be getting three medals at the end of all of it, you will also get three tech shirts at the expo (10K, half, and GSC).

When you find your booth that corresponds with your bib number, you will be identified as a GSC runner. Once you receive your bib, the volunteer will point you in the direction of the photographer that will take your picture with you holding your bib. This is for confirming, at the end of the PHM when you’re getting your third medal, that you really are who you are. Other race series do this, and remember when I talked about bib bandits earlier? Yeah. This is why.

(This can also be found on p. 38 of the Event Guide.)

Deciphering Your Bib

GSC bib

When you receive your bib, you’re going to notice two letters in the upper corner. The first letter is your corral for the Enchanted 10K. The second letter is your corral for the Princess Half. YOU MUST WEAR THE SAME BIB DURING BOTH RACES. There are different designs for each race. GSC is different than the 10K or the half, and has a different numbering system.

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^^courtesy of Patty at http://noguiltlife.com/
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^^Courtesy of Julie at http://www.runwalkrepeat.com/

 


 

Enchanted 10K

Welcome to the first 6.2 miles of your journey! Yay!

The atmosphere for the 10K will not be as electric as it will be for the half-marathon. It will still be bumping, but with half as many people. I find this to be relatively relaxing, and the chaos levels are not as intense.

While you’re preparing for this first race, keep in mind the following:

-This is only day one. You won’t even hit the halfway mark with the total mileage for the challenge during this race. That’ll be at mile 3.45 during the half:

19.3 miles/2 days = 9.65 – 6.2 = 3.45

…therefore, I highly suggest that you do not go all out during this race, especially if you’ve never done a challenge race before. I speed-walked the 10K in 2015, and while my time suffered a whole hell of a lot, I felt decent for the half. You’re going to be excited and you’re going to want to take off like a rocket ship. I suggest that you don’t. You’ll be saving your energy reserves for the half, which is when you’re going to need them.

-Now, some of you may be gunning for a PR or a placement in this race, or the 10K is “your” distance and you know what to do. That’s totally fine. If you want to focus on this race and take it easy during the half, or vice versa, go nuts.

There will be five corrals (as far as I know. This may change if the field becomes larger). Find your corral and line up. The staging will be in the Explore parking lot, so it’s not as nuts as the half where there are sixteen corrals lined up and down Epcot Center Drive.

-There will be characters along the route for the 10K, but you have no idea which ones will be there until you get there. I do not have a list and am not in charge of character placement, although that would be a super fun job to have.

-There is one major elevation change on this course, and it happens along mile 2 as you head up an overpass.

-After you finish the Enchanted 10K, you’ll get your medal and head down the finisher’s chute. There will be a seperate section for GSC runners. You will receive a wristband at this time indicating that you completed the first half of the challenge. FOR THE LOVE OF MICKEY MOUSE, DO NOT REMOVE THIS WRISTBAND. This is your ticket to getting your GSC medal at the end of the PHM on Sunday. (Updated note: 2014 had wristbands. 2015 did not. I’m curious to see what happens this year, so the wristband thing may or may not be a thing. We shall see!)

-After the 10K, make sure to keep it easy. Stretch out, keep moving, don’t overexert yourself by going nuts in the parks. You have to run a half marathon on Sunday! Eat well, rest, recover, and go. to. bed. early. It may be easier to sleep on Saturday night since you already put your body through 6.2 and change already….


 

WAIT. Sleep? Sleep is great! Hooray for bed!…

bart chainsaw
Unless you have nightmares about Homer asking if you want to see his new chainsaw and hockey mask, that is.

 

Now, before you sleep on Saturday…

-Did you put your bib on your half marathon outfit? You did? Good.

-Are you recharging electronics?

-Did you clear out your gEAR bag and put everything in it that you will need for Sunday post-race? (You will be using this for both days.) Is it hanging on the door?

-Did you stretch out and think happy thoughts? Yay 🙂


 

Princess Half Marathon

DAAAAAAAY TWOOOOOO! Woohoo!

bart 400
“Top of the hour, time for the morning news! But of course, there is no news yet. Everyone’s still asleep in their comfy, comfy beds…”

 

I’m going to be honest with you: one of the biggest obstacles during the GSC is not necessarily on the course, but it’s about multiple days of waking up at ass-o’clock in the morning to run. Just be aware of this. (I can only imagine how Dopey runners feel during their challenge. Four days and 48.6 miles. Insane, and exceptionally admirable.)

You’re probably going to wake up feeling sore and tired. The degree of this soreness will be based on how much energy you exerted during the 10K, and if you decided to walk around the parks a whole bunch afterwards. If you trained well during the last few months, the pain should be mild. If not, you’ll probably be hurting more. The task of completing 13.1 is ahead of you, so now is the time to get focused.

Christina’s Thoughts:

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Running can be far more mental than physical. Our bodies are capable of doing incredible things, but it’s up to your mind to get you there. Glass Slipper runners who run the PHM may be revolving their run around willpower, especially in the second half of the course. They may also encounter The Wall. This is a psychological and physical fatigue that can stop even the most elite runners in their tracks. It involves your glyco stores becoming totally depleted, resulting in a loss of energy. Loss of energy = everything goes kersplooey. If you see someone “hitting the wall”, it’s definitely not a pretty sight; there’s a lot of tears, frustration, sheer exhaustion, and talks of, “I can’t do this. I’m so done.” When you think you’re heading south, this is when all those motivational memes and pinterest pictures and songs you’ve been engrossing yourself in for the last four months can be utilized. Change your music if you need to, dig deep, and keep going. There’s shiny bling and bananas and bragging rights just beyond the finish line!


 

Make sure you eat breakfast (trust me on this; you’re body is screaming to be refueled, and you don’t want to hit the wall due to energy/fuel depletion!), and drink your beverage of choice. Check the weather. Make sure you have your bib and gEAR bag. It’s Princess Half time!!

-There will be twice as many runners from yesterday at this race. Keep this in mind as you’re navigating Runner’s Village and going to the corrals.

-You will be halfway done with the GSC at mile 3.45 (as per the math above).

-Run at your comfort level. If you need extra stretching after a mile or two, veer off the course and into the grass out of everyone else’s way. Your muscles will feel tight during this race to an extent. It’s important that you get to the finish safely.

-When you finish, head through the finisher’s chute just like yesterday. You’ll get your PHM medal first. Don’t freak out just yet….there is a seperate area for GSC runners as you continue on. When you see this, they’ll check your picture and bib number. If you’re clear to go, congrats! You’ll get your GSC medal!

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Yes, they’re backwards, but you get the idea.

 

-Embrace the clank and wear these medals around the parks! You deserve the extra jingle. (They’ll start wearing on your neck after awhile, so you might just wear the slipper medal.) If you plan on taking legacy pictures, or with any combination of medals thereafter, bring these with you!

-Post-race…you’re going to be tired. There’s no getting around this. Keep moving, stretching, and refueling, even if you don’t feel like eating (*guiltily raises hand*) . The powerade and snack boxes will help you tremendously, along with any other food you’re going to use. The DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) you’ll feel in the next few days or weeks is going to suck. Take care of yourself, and if anything hurts, don’t hesitate to see a doctor.


 

Seems like a fabulous time, right? Run some miles, get some bling. Happy happy joy joy.

But it’s time now for the not-so-fun part…

If You Get Swept…

Hypothetically, if you’ve trained well, you shouldn’t have a problem finishing. That goes for any race. However, race days can be unpredictable, and 923847918273 things can happen that could derail your perfect day.

The bottom line for runDisney challenges: In the event that you get swept in either one of the races, you will NOT get your challenge medal.

Let me repeat that:

If you get swept as a GSC runner, you won’t get your challenge medal.

Yes, they do give out the individual medals.

No, they won’t make an exception for the GSC medal.

Challenges are challenges, and will be treated as such.

The end.


 

We have now covered all of the racing aspects of GSC/Princess Half weekend. If there is anything that hasn’t been answered yet, please ask it and I’ll do my best to provide an answer.

So you have the medals, your finish times are online, and you’re walking around with your Mickey waffle basking in the post-race high that accompanies the thrill of accomplishment. In the post-race hours, days, and weeks that are ahead, you will be experiencing physical and emotional changes that may affect you. Episode VI, Return of the Post-Race Blues, will be arriving soon…

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. IV, Part II

Hello, runners! We have about three weeks ’til Princess Half weekend! *listens to the cheers* As event guides and waivers are being released over the coming days, the excitement is going to increase tenfold. I know some of you are freaking out…please don’t be. This is why I take hours out of my week to write these guides for you. If I can assuage your fears even just a little bit, then I’m doing my job.

Time for Episode IV, Part II! I consider this the heart of the race weekend, and the meat and potatoes of this Survival Guide. (aka, you better get cozy; this is gonna take awhile!) I have mentioned before: Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Before every race, I sit down with the course map and analyze where all the points of interest are. If you have an idea of what is ahead of you (especially with water and aid stops), you will go into the race a little less stressed. And we all need a little less stress! I will be providing visuals along the way with pictures I have taken and additonal resources from other bloggers and photographers.


 

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode IV, Part II: A New Race…Pees and Sees Along the Course

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You’ve crossed the start line and you’re on your way to many magical miles in Disney World! Woohoo!

So, what will you encounter along the routes? Places to pee and things to see, of course! Let’s return to the course maps from the last episode, shall we?…

Enchanted 10K

10k PHM Map

You have an idea of the elevation changes on this course. (Not many. Yay!) You’ll traverse through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. There are characters along the course for picture stops. (These change every year, and there’s no list available before the race to know this, so it’s all a big surprise!) Your water/aid stops/general road map is as follows:

Mile 1: Flaaaaaaaaaat.

Mile 1.25: Up the overpass. (Biggest elevation change on the course.)

Mile 1.75: Water….just over the downward part of the overpass ramp. I do believe there is a character stop over here.

Miles 2-3: This gets a little dull, but Disney has music and videos playing on the jumbotrons.

Mile 3.3-ish: First Aid tent (this is the ONLY med tent for the 10K)

Mile 3.6-ish: Water stop as you’re coming into EPCOT by China.

Mile 4: WOOOOOO EPCOT!! You’ll burst through and be greeted with all of the torches lit up and music playing in the background. It is my absolutely favorite part of the weekend. So many feels.

Mile 4.75: Water again

Mile 5-Boardwalk and Yacht Club.

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Mile 5.4-ish: More water.

Mile 6.2 = finish line!

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Race Etiquette Pointer:

**When you’re going through water stops, grab what you need and keep going. Don’t always stop at the first volunteer. There are about a dozen volunteers with cups in their hands, and make sure to thank them! POWERADE IS FIRST, WATER IS SECOND. And try your best to get your empty cups into the trash cans.**


 

Princess Half Marathon

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Before I start, one of our teamRunDisney members, Chris Mel, took photos along every mile of the PHM last year. His photos are on Facebook:, and are a fabulous visual representation of what you’ll find on the course: https://www.facebook.com/Triangleoutdoors/media_set?set=a.1306562266027933.1073741883.100000225167545&type=3

Mile .8 = water. Yep, you’re getting water pretty quickly.

Mile 1.5 = elevation change. It is one of two changes that are significant in the entire course. Don’t go out too fast and burn yourself out before you hit this point. There’s a downhill part to the uphill, so it’s be a nice relief!

Mile 2.9-ish = water and first aid.

Mile 3.1 = 5K split timer

Mile 4 = there is a DJ over the tunnel by Bay Lake with the big Mickey hands at this part (you may have seen him in others’ pictures before). This is also Cone Alley #1. It is a downhill section (largest negative elevation change of the race), so be mindful of where you’re running and who is around you.

PHM 2013 people

Mile 4.6-ish = water and first aid.

Mile 4.9-5. Passing by Contemporary Resort and Space Mountain. You’re almost on Main Street USA! **Note: watch the trolley tracks  while going down Main Street USA. You might roll your limbs on these if you’re not paying attention.**

**Storm the Castle**

When you’re going through the castle, you may encounter a bottleneck and it may feel like a dawdle through the castle. Typically, you will exit to the right once you’re out of the castle, BUT…during the WDW Marathon, they opened up the left side of the castle exit, allowing for the flow of runners to be far more smooth. If you plan on going down the left side, watch the terrain. I heard that some runners ate it here during the marathon. Plus, don’t stop without checking to see if someone’s behind you if you want a picture. It’s great way to get hurt.

You might need to go to the bathroom in MK. Just gonna warn you now…the lines may be atrocious. Don’t always stop at the first one you see. Your three options are Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland/Frontierland. I have included a supplementary blog post by Julie of runwalkrepeat.com at the bottom of this page.

Mile 6.2 = water and first aid. This is right outside of the MK backstage area. Your 10K split will also be recorded here.

Mile 6.5-8 = Cone Alley #2. This is a very literal term: coming out of the backstage area, runners will be funneled into an obnoxiously tight section of the course. I absolutely abhor this area. It is a two-way street, and you’re running on one side of it. There is a barrier of cones on the center line. Do not cross the cones, because you’ll get yelled at. The road is flanked by these cones to the right and a grassy hill to the left. I do not recommend running through the grass. Wet shoes + wet socks + potential for rolled ankles = no thanks.

For those planning race strategy, I would bide my time and patience during this part. The road will open up soon.

You will also be passing by the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts along Mile 7!

You will also reach the halfway point during this time! Woohoo!

PHM 2013 halfway

Mile 8.7 = Clif Station. You’ll see these from down the road by their gigantic flags waving in the wind. There will be four types of gels being offered, if you wish to take them: Vanilla, Raspberry, Citrus, and Mocha. (The Mocha has 50 mg of caffeine in it. Take this with caution if you’re prone to pooping after caffeine consumption.) There is a water/First Aid station just beyond this at Mile 9. I HIGHLY suggest taking your gels and getting to the water station BEFORE consuming them. Taking gels without water will dry your throat out and not taste good. And I think it says somewhere on the package that you should consume with liquid, anyway….

Mile 9: Long. Long and flat. There is a water stop right beofre you tackle the overpass. Mile 9.3 is the 15K split timer.

PHM 15K

Coming up the overpass you will see the Mile 10 marker. Make it up the hill, and it’ll go flat for a bit.

EPCOT! Seeing Spaceship Earth is a joyous site, and it means you’re almost to the finish line!

Mile 11: Water and your last First Aid stop. The spectator support will begin to grow exponentially for the final two miles.

Mile 12.25: Last water stop.

*insert EPCOT goodness…loop back around to Spaceship Earth….gospel choir….*

FINISH LINE

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Alrighty, so that’s a basic rundown of the course. Time to talk about other things that are of serious importance…


 

Balloon Ladies…Love ’em or Hate ’em, They’re Still Here

In order to keep a sense of order regarding pace, runDisney incorporates a small group of ladies (they’re professionals) to maintain a 16 mpm pace throughout the course. So many runners dread seeing them, but rest assured, they want to see you finish. runDisney only has a certain amount of allotted time to keep the roads closed to the public so we runners can finish safely.

The balloon ladies’ job is to adhere to the 16 mpm pace once the last runner in Corral P crosses the timing mats. The time that you see on the clocks at each mile marker is the overall time for the race. For example…if you get to Mile 4 and the time says 1:18, that is the amount of time that has elapsed since the very first corral was launched.

Obviously, the farther up in corrals you are, the more of a time buffer you’ll have for photos and potty breaks. Heed this warning though…don’t get so caught up in taking pictures that you lose track of time and get swept. Yes…this has happened before. Many runners have to make the choice between photos with their favorite character or getting swept. Think about this before the race as a possible scenario.

I have read for the past few months that people are paranoid about being swept. You won’t get swept if you stay ahead of these ladies. There are several sweep points along the route that have big yellow charter buses next to them. I believe these points are around Miles 4 and 8, possibly 10. Officials hate to sweep, but must to maintain course safety.

If you happen to get swept, don’t try to fight about it. It is going to suck, and there will be a lot of emotion coming from your fellow runners as you board those busses. (I was swept at MCM this year, and it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.) You’ll be taken to the finish and still be given a medal. What you do with this medal is entirely up to you. Some save it as motivation to train harder, others may not accept it at all.


 

Mile Markers and Split Timing

Many of you are firsties, so the concept of mile markers and splits (not the delicious banana kind) may be foreign. Here’s the quick rundown of how to interpret them.

Mile Markers: The second that you cross the start line, you are beginning the first mile. At the end of the first mile, you’ll see the first mile marker. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ALL THAT DISTANCE BEFORE YOU WAS A FLUKE. Think of seeing a mile marker as a reward: ”I just finished the first mile, yay! Let’s see what character it is and take a picture.” Then you do to mile two. And so on. Each mile marker indicates how many miles you have finished. (Example below: You’ve reached the mile 11 sign. You have finished 11 miles. Woohoo!)

PHM 2013 Mulan

Splits: A split is how races are broken up for timing, or your pace per mile. For runDisney, there are several splits that your runner tracking will record: 5K, 10K, and 15K splits, plus your start and end times. Make sure you step on the timing mats so your chip transfers the data! You’ll see these areas marked by distance flags. (See 15K flag above.)

Once waivers are released, you can sign up for runner tracking that can post your progress and results across Facebook, Twitter, and text message. Before I bought my Garmin, I had my splits sent to Twitter and my phone. This was a great way for me to stay in tune with my times and gauge if I could afford to take an extra picture or spend more time in the bathroom.


 

First Aid/Course Safety : How to (Literally) Survive a Race

Time to get serious. Yes, I get serious sometimes, and this is a topic I will not be light on. Surprisingly, there is something far more important than getting a shiny medal, and many runners ignore this.

It’s called taking care of yourself. It’s listening to your body when it’s telling you to slow down and take in more electrolytes. It’s not fighting through an injury should it crop up during the race. It’s adhering to the weather and dressing appropriately.

I mentioned this in the last episode, and it needs to be repeated until the end of time: runDisney may be deemed as “fun races”…but they are still races just the same. You will be putting many miles on your legs and your body will go through a grueling test of endurance, no matter what the age or ability level. If you have not been training and eating properly, and you think you can just wing it…you are sadly mistaken.

I had friends telling me that the saw people doing the Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, half, and full) for the first time (undertrained) during Marathon weekend, and after the 10K, they were in rough shape. How they were going to survive the next 39.3 miles (and two more 2 AM wake-up calls)?

I saw someone getting put on oxygen during the marathon; ambulances made their way down the same path that the runners were on, and we all had to shift to the side of the road. Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah last November, when the heat was so bad that runners died on the course? People pass out in the heat due to overexertion and dehydration, heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

Guys, the danger of all of this is very real. You need to stay alert at all times. The temperature soared last year during the half. I gradually slowed my time and made it to the end safely, albeit sunburned and tired. I knew that a PR wasn’t worth fainting over. Slow your time by thirty seconds for every five degrees the temperature rises. Your body heats up fairly quickly once you start moving, and you will feel naturally twenty degrees warmer than the air temperature. Add humidity and even higher temps, and it’s a recipe for potential disaster.

There is also a Medical Information section in the Event Guide (pages 48 and 49). Head over to rundisney.com and click on the Princess Half Marathon section (it’s under “Runner Information”.) Take some time to go over this, and all of the other sections. This will give you some advice on what the aid stations will be like and how to take care of yourself during the race. The first aid tents on the courses are stocked with all the things. If you need to be treated for something, do NOT hesitate to stop in. If something feels achy, Biofreeze is your friend; if you need to slather it on, there’s plenty of it. Same with Vaseline. The Vaseline will be on popsicle sticks…do NOT, under any circumstances, eat this. (Some think it’s a treat. Then they eat it…and find out it isn’t…)

Again, I implore…please take care of yourself while you’re out there running. You may not be aiming for a PR (I will be…that will be a later post closer to race day), but you’re still exerting yourself with the same intensity. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at a 6 mpm or a 16 mpm…miles are still miles. We will have all covered the same distance in the end.


 

Spectators

If there is one thing that runDisney events are known for, it’s the amazing crowd support. This is especially prevalent along Miles 1-2, Magic Kingdom (4-6), and EPCOT (11-13). They’ll be cheering for you, and the energy will give you that push to make it down Main Street U.S.A., or past Spaceship Earth. Cast members will also be out in droves. Make sure to give out high fives and take note of the runner signs! Some of them are quite hilarious.

If your squad has a ChEAR Package, or need ideas for places to go, refer to pages 52-54 of the Event Guide. A Spectator Viewpoint list can be found here, as well.


 

After the Race…What’s Next?

You rounded the final corner coming out of EPCOT, raced down the last straightaway, high-fived Mickey, and have crossed the finish line! Woohoo, you did it!! Now it’s time to go down the finisher’s chute. This is where celebration and recovery begin.

-Tell your guests in advance that they are NOT allowed down the runner’s chute. This is for runners only. They can meet you at the post-meetup areas in Runners Village.

-First stop is medals. Find a volunteer and get medaled! Admire it for a minute. It’s shiny, isn’t it?

-Water, Powerade, bananas…they’ll all be here.

-Get your picture taken (if you wish!)

-Head by the tents for your recovery box and probably another banana or five.

**Glass Slipper Challenge participants….there is a seperate area just for you to get your challenge medal. I will cover this, and all GSC-related things, in Episode V. That episode is reserved just for you!**

-Get your gEAR bag and smile. You’re done!! Head to the celebration area in Runners Village. Stretch out, take a few selfies with your new bling, congratulate other runners that are around you. You all worked hard to make it here.

-There are additional First Aid tents at the end if you need assistance.

The most important thing to keep in mind while traversing the finisher’s chute is to KEEP MOVING. Don’t let that lactic acid build up in your legs by stopping and plopping on the ground. You’re going to be tired, you’re going to be hurting…but you’ll hurt worse later on if you don’t fuel up during this window of opportunity.


 

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I know this post was insanely long, but there’s a lot of information to be covered. I’ve probably missed something, so if you have questions, please ask them and I’ll do my best to answer!

On a seperate note…

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WHO IS RUNNING THE GLASS SLIPPER CHALLENGE?!? *sees hands going up*

Woohoo! Whether this is your first GSC or your third, I’ve been waiting eagerly to write the next portion of this guide. Episode V: The Glass Slipper Strikes Back, will be tailored to GSC-specific details of race weekend!

Until next time….


 

P.S. If you’re still feeling nervous, take some time to scour the internet for PHM and GSC recaps and other runDisney blog posts. Thousands of other runners have done these races before and are happy to share their experiences. Pinterest is also a great resource.

Supplementary Blog Posts for this episode:

http://www.runwalkrepeat.com/2014/01/princess-half-marathon-potty-time-where-are-the-real-bathrooms-avoid-using-the-port-o-potty/

http://www.runwalkrepeat.com/2014/01/princess-half-marathon-dont-fear-the-sweepers-or-balloon-ladies/

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide: Episode IV, Part I

*buzz buzz buzz*

What’s that? A swarm of bees? Or dogs? Or dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you?

(If you got the Simpsons reference, give yourself five gold stars.)

Nope. That’s your alarm.

Today is the day! You’ve trained for many miles, traveled to get here, and are totally excited for race day! No matter what race you’re running, you’re going to have a fantastic experience. This episode is going to dive into the heart of race day. I’m going to give you the 411 on the before, during, and after aspects of what you may encounter. Since there are an umpteenth amount of variables that are associated with a runDisney event, I will be splitting this into two parts. So grab your snacks and tiaras…it’s time to race!


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PHM Survival Guide, Episode IV: A New Race: The Ins and Outs of Race Day!

Part I…

You wake up full of excitement and anticipation. You bounce around the hotel room in your race day costume, doing all the wake-up things and nibbling on your pre-race food. You board the bus at 3AM (or jump in your car at 2:30 AM), and soon you’re taking off for the staging area! But as excited as you are, you feel like you’re forgetting something…

Okay. Rewind.

The primary thing you need to do is focus on logistics. RunDisney races are fun, I get that. But they are still races, and should be taken seriously as such. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, and go down through the list:

Before the Race….

  1. That outfit you layed out last night? Are you wearing it? Good.
  2. Do you have your bib?! Yes? Yay!
  3. Are you planning on music/pictures/etc.? How about your fitness watch? Do you have those electronics? Good.
  4. Did you grab your check-in bag that was hanging on the door to your room? You better have!
  5. Did you have a beverage other than coffee (aka water)? You will want to do this. Try to have at least 8-16 oz of water pre-race. Whether it’s going to be hot or cold, you’ll want the extra hydration.
  6. Got your hotel room keys? Don’t lock the door until you check!

Once you have all the things, it’s time to move to your transportation method of choice…

disney-bus

On-Site: If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, there will be shuttles to take you to Runner’s Village. When I was driving to EPCOT on WDW Marathon morning, the fleet of busses was departing EPCOT around 2:00 AM to their respective resorts with first runners boarding around 3 AM. If you are paranoid about missing anything, OR want to go through bag check with minimal people around, I would HIGHLY suggest getting in the queue for this around 2:30 AM. It sounds obnoxiously early, but drivers have been known to get lost and/or delayed. It makes for some interesting tweets to read later.

new car
My wheels for race weekend!

 

Off-site/driving: If you’re planning on driving yourself, you may have it a juuuust little easier. Since you don’t have to rely on someone else for a ride, you can easily get to EPCOT on your own. Woohoo! Heed this warning though: Leave earlier than anticipated. Once that first fleet of busses starts heading back to EPCOT, traffic is going to be positively dreadful. Like, Master Gracey and the Haunted Mansion dreadful. I left at 2AM and got there about 15 minutes later. Even though I sat in my car for awhile, I was fine.

Driving directions, taken from the Event Guide:

-If you’re traveling I-4 (barf), take exit 64 to 192 West and follow the signs to EPCOT. DO NOT USE EXIT 67.

I repeat: Exit 67 = bad. Exit 64 = good!

-If you’re already on 192, you can use your GPS. I did and had no problems.

I will warn you again…expect significant delays if you’re not in the parking lot by 3 AM. Traffic is gnarly. Also, you are NOT allowed to access the corrals from anywhere else except through the Explore Lot at EPCOT. If you try to jump the fence at Bonnet Creek Parkway or Buena Vista Drive, you’ll get disqualified and definitely yelled at. Public embarrassment is not on the agenda for today, folks! It’s for your own safety. There is a runner dropoff in the Taxi Lot in EPCOT.

If you’re driving, you don’t have to pay the $20 to park. (It’s about the best perk runDisney is going to give you this weekend.)

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Alrighty, so you’re traveling..and traveling…maybe singing songs with those on the bus or in the car…and then you’re here! Yay! Here’s what you do next…

Security: Anyone who has a check-in bag will have to go through security. If you have ANYTHING with a zipper (this includes arm bands, belts, etc.), you also have to go through security (be prepared ahead of time by opening the zippers on your items). This may sound overly unnecessary, but for those that are safety-minded, it will put you at ease. Anything is subject for additional searching, and there are K-9 units.

Once you’re through security, it is time for…

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Runner’s Village

I’ve mentioned this a couple of times, and now it’s time to explain what exactly this mysterious land is.

This is where everything goes down before the race. Once past security, you will encounter the charity tents and some bathrooms. There will be the Race Retreat/breakfast tent, concessions to buy coffee/bagels/pre-race breakfasty deliciousness (be prepared to sell your kidneys for these, because Disney), info tents, and a main stage where pre-race music will be pumping and people will be dancing. (No lie, this actually happens.) Many running groups and friends will be meeting up during this time, and there are many visual landmarks you can use for a pre-race meetup.

Checking your stuff: Your gEar check tents will be in alphabetical order. Find your tent and drop off your stuff. Easy peasy.

Portapotties: There are about 592 of these all around. Make sure you have your PRPs before you head to the corrals. Potties will be scarce from this point on, and then you’ll have to resort to nature being your toilet.

Race Retreat/Breakfast: (Something that I have yet to experience. If you have experienced this, I’d love your input!) If you purchased tickets, you will head to a large, white tent in the Imagine Lot. Make sure you have your wristband! (You would have received this at the expo). Times for this is as follows:

-Friday: 7AM-9AM (breakfast)

-Saturday: 6:30AM-8:30AM (breakfast)

-Sunday: 3AM-10AM

Sunday Race Retreat:

3AM-5:30AM (This includes breakfast, stretching areas, portapotties, private gEAR check, etc.) ONLY RUNNERS CAN ACCESS THE TENT FOR THE RACE RETREAT.

5:30AM-10AM: Platinum ChEAR Squad guests ONLY, with breakfast from 5:30AM-6:30AM.

7:30 AM-10AM: Breakfast Service.


Stuff About Spectators:

Since I have never had to do a racecation with spectators in tow, I really don’t have a lot of personal experience to share. I do, however, have the Event Guide pages with this information! (If anyone else has experiences to share, please share them! Shoutouts and cupcakes for all that do!)


 

Oh yeah…one more thing…

MarathonFoto Paparazzi.: I find this to be the most annoying part of the pre-race. As much as I like taking pictures as a photographer, I’m not one for getting in people’s faces about it. I understand that they’re doing their job, but I don’t really like to be bothered. I politely decline and give an outward impression that I have things to do and places to go. Others may choose to ham it up, and that’s fine. To each their own.

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Your stuff is checked in, you’ve peed, you’re hanging out with friends. Awesome! Now it’s around 4:45, and people are starting to meander towards the corrals. Now it is time to pay attention. This is when I will begin the great divide between 10K and PHM differences…

10K Corrals: There are five of these (as of 2014 and 2015; 2016 may be different). You don’t have to go far to find these. They will be in one of the parking lots. (The event guide doesn’t have a map for this, unfortunately…)

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PHM Corrals: Far more fun. It is about a 20 minute walk to the corrals, and it really is a distance away! Floodlights will guide your way and booming music will accompany you. (Some refer to this as a Princess Death March, or the Herding of the Cows. All in good fun, of course!) Pay attention to the sign at the median: this will tell you which corrals go to the left or right. Follow the road and find the big corral light bulb thingie that has your letter on it. Show your bib to the volunteers and hop on in!

(^^ They’ll look something like this!)


So you’re in your corral and trying to figure out where to start. Line up where you think you’ll be most comfortable. Here is a little guide to help you:

*If this is your first race, start somewhere in the middle to back of your corral, in the middle-ish. If you’re more of the observing type, this will give you a few extra seconds to gauge what everyone is doing in front of you so you can plan your moves. This is also good for anyone planning to start slow and aim for negative splits later on.

*If you plan on running the whole thing, or are a veteran runner who got screwed with your proof of time submission and are a little speedier, go to the left. (Runners on the left.)

*If you’re going to do run/walk intervals, hover around to the right. (Walkers to the right.)

*Line up in the front if you’re absolutely crazy and want to get out ahead of everyone!

Race etiquette:

There will be many runners committing etiquette faux pas. Stay ahead of the game with these tips (and more throughout additional sections)!

-If you want to run with a friend and you’re in two seperate corrals, you need to move to the slower corral. You’re not allowed to move UP, only BACK. (Corral jumpers will attempt to hop the fence, and they have done this in the past. If you see this, report it to security immediately.)

-No more than two runners abreast across the road. Go single file in the Cone Alleys because it’s gonna be tight enough already. Don’t be hogging the road for people wanting to get around you.

-This one is huge: If you’re planning on run/walk/run intervals, nonverbal communication to your fellow runners is just as important, if not more, than verbal. In addition to verbally stating, “Run” or “Walk”, look behind you and move accordingly while giving a hand signal. This is when all runners should be outfitted with a belt that has turn signals on it. Don’t just stop in the middle of the freakin’ highway; someone WILL run into you and you both may be hurt. Also…there are a few runners that are deaf/hearing impaired that run this race. You never know who out there is, so just be mindful of those around you.

-Get those around you excited! You’d be surprised how many runners will be cracking jokes along the way. Interaction is key to staying sane, and you’ll make new runner buddies!

The announcers, especially Carissa and Rudy, will do their best at cracking jokes and keeping everyone engaged in the minutes prior.. The National Anthem will be sung (one of my goals in life as a professional anthemist!), and the Fairy Godmother will wave the corrals off one by one…

PHM Countdown
(^^ Photo courtesy of runningatdisney.com!)

 

Salagadoola… mechicka boola…three, two, one, GO!”

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Christina’s Thoughts:

You may think that your life changes the second you toe the start line. In reality, this happens far sooner. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and that starts the second you decide to sign up and say, “Yes. I’m doing this.” You’ve put the miles in and are ready for your victory lap. Enjoy every moment, and take it all in.


 

You now have an idea of what happens before the race. Now that you’ve crossed the start line, you’re on a journey that’s fit for a princess! What will you encounter on the course besides elevation changes and a lot of other people in tutus and tiaras? Stay tuned for Episode IV, Part II!