Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend POST II Marathon RUNcation Logistics

197 days of Marathon Training, and the race comes along just to end it....

This is part 2 of my posts about my first marathon, training for it, and the aftermath.  In July of 2012 I began training for the Walt Disney World Marathon using the Jeff Galloway training plan that came with marathon registration.

Warning: this is alot of information, some of it is a snooze unless you're planning on or have run the WDW marathon.  Again, my attempt to share my decisions and experiences in hopes that it will be helpful to others.  Hopefully this will be timely, as those who have registered for WDW 2014 will be thinking about their race weekend plans.

As our big weekend neared, I had many big decisions ahead of me:  first, whether or not to go ahead and run the race, given my bout with a raging case of IT band tendinitis (see prior post).  But second, and probably most important, WHAT TO WEAR?

My best running friend Tracey has a creative gift for all things theatrical, so her costume had been long decided and designed.  Brilliantly, she chose to be Fireside Girl Isabella ("whatchya dooooo-in?") from one of the best-written cartoons on television, Phineas and Ferb.  Hubs was running this marathon too, so I debated between dressing up with him or with Tracey as a duo.  Hubs and I originally had a costume idea to be the female and male characters from Tron, wearing all black, and attaching glow string (since about three hours of the race is in the dark).  However, as I suspected he would from the get-go, hubs backed out of the costume thing so the decision was made for me: I too, would be a Fireside Girl.

Fireside Girls
Donning our yellow tops and brown sparkle skirts, calf sleeves and complete with a Fireside Girl sash and bow-adorned Bondi band, Tracey and Hubs and I met under the streetlamps in the Epcot Parking lot, awaiting the opening of the race corrals.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me back up a few days to our logistical mobilization to the race venue.  Also, I need to tell you that I am a logistical nerd.  I love logistics.  I am actually trained in process improvement and efficiency, certified by GE to be a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  I now use my MBB training to run our family and household, as I stay at home with our little ones, working part time from home.  I LOVE mobilization planning and logistical strategy, so bear with me.

In the days leading up to our scheduled departure, hubs and I went over all of our gear, again thankful that we only had to run at this race, not prepare for all the gear required for a triathlon.  However, preparing for a family vacation to Walt Disney World AND a marathon proved to be quite the strategic challenge.

Luckily, our family regularly visits WDW.  We live 5 hrs away, and can drive there easily.  Because of this, we have our trips honed to a science.  We love to observe other groups of visitors to the parks, slapping their foreheads in utter confusion and frustration, or walking around in a daze, their precisely calculated, to-the-minute touring plan sabotaged in the first hour of the day by their kids who cannot walk past an attraction or a character without planting their feet and demanding to ride, see, or meet.  Dragging the kid past their desired attraction to the one on your touring plan can result in a kid meltdown and refusal to do anything BUT what's in front of them at that moment.  That used to be us, we say to ourselves, as we happily skip through the park with our kids, sans map or touring plan.  Multiple trips per year allow you to do this.  

Our park plan usually consists of a list of "must-dos" for the day, compiled by all of us before we set out.  We diligently get up and out early, hit the parks until about noon, and then race back to the room for some downtime, a nap, or a cool-off at the pool.  Hubs and I usually take turns running during this time, just a 5k or so.  It's amazing how much better our feet and legs feel when we go for a midday run.  We are glued to our TouringPlans app on our iphones to tell us wait times, showtimes, and park hours.  We plan our next move while in line.  After a generous midday break, we head back out to the parks and stay late.  We delight in seeing the park crowds going in the opposite direction as we are.  Most of the crowd is arriving as we are leaving the parks, and those same folks, hot, tired, and having completed only 2 of the things on their extensive list, trudging to the exit as we, refreshed and fueled, are heading back in.

My race toiletry bag
Our race gear:

  • Bondiband
  • sunglasses
  • Body glide & skin strong spray
  • sunscreen
  • run shirts - tank for me, compression top & tech tee for hubs
  • UA compression shorts
  • Nike run shorts for hubs
  • sparkle skirt
  • spi belt for me
  • nathan gel pack for hubs
  • kt tape for my knee
  • Zensah compression calf sleeves
  • ininji socks
  • Hoka One One shoes for me, Brooks Adrenaline for hubs
  • ipod (didn't use it)
  • Garmin watch
  • Road ID
  • iPhone
  • Snotrag
Krispie Treat Carboload
Race fuel:
  • Prerace
    • Ensure
    • Gatorade
    • Clif Bar
  • During race
    • Gu (about every hour to two hours)
    • Gatorade & water at aid stations
    • Luna bar
    • Advil/tylenol
    • Salt Tabs
Night before:
  • "Runner's special" pasta dish from Captain Cook's at the Polynesian
  • Giant rice krispie treat on Main Street USA
  • Gatorade & water all day hydration
WDW gear:
Disney makes it easy
  • Osprey cross-body bag that holds my large camera, etc.
  • North face backpack carried by hubs
  • Select stuffed animals & Disney themed toys for kiddos purchased on prior trips
  • Breakfast foods (for quick getaway in the morning) such as clif bars, etc.
  • Pediasure nutrition drink for kiddos (way to keep them full with nutrients)
  • Park snacks; apples, carrots, nutella sandwich makings, fun size candies
  • Laptop, electronic chargers for phones, etc.
  • Road IDs for entire family
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Wipes, advil, tylenol, chapstick, sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer & sanitizing wipes
  • Shoes: flip flops (for around hotel), keens (for wet days), and running shoes
  • Family Uniform: sport shorts/capris or cargo shorts, tech tshirt & fleece if needed
View of WDW Half Marathon
from Monorail in Epcot
We had planned on my parents and our family of four to stay in one room at the Polynesian for race weekend.  We chose this hotel for several reasons:  One, the room was big enough for us all to stay comfortably, and it cost the same as two value resort rooms.  Two, for race day mobility, it offered the most and easiest travel options.  Being on the monorail route, hubs and I jumped on the monorail to take us to the race start line, and my parents and kiddos were able to easily spectate the race from the Polynesian grounds.  Also, on race day, the roads and wheeled transportation shuts down after the race start  because of the race route.  However, the monorail continues to run, and those who are staying in a monorail resort, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or Contemporary, can travel to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot easily during the race.  Plus, since my parents were to be in charge of our kids on race day, riding the monorail was the easiest way for them to get to and from the parks without a hitch.

The room choice was superb, and I believe that anyone who plans to participate in the Marathon with family in tow would not be dissatisfied with any of the resorts on the monorail line.  Yes, they cost ALOT more than other Disney resorts.  However, the reduction in the logistical challenges of staying at other resorts on race weekend is probably worth the premium price.  I maintain that all Disney resorts are ridiculously expensive, but we keep coming back to them because staying there removes some of the hassle factor from your vacation.  In contrast to staying at a monorail line resort, runners must wait in line for a bus to the race route.  This part is very easy for the runners.  The problem arises for their families and spectators.  For anyone who wants to spectate and cheer their runner, and want to see them on the course, spectators will have to be on a bus by 5:45am to avoid transportation route closures.  Once on the course, spectators can take the monorail between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Or, if they want to meet you at the finish line, they can board a bus later in the day and go directly to the finish, missing their runner en route.  

Runners must be on Disney transportation by 3:30am...just an fyi...that is an EARLY morning.  But the race day adrenaline kicks in quickly!

WDW offers free runner tracking for spectators to keep track of their runner on the course.  Anyone can track marathon runners on the course by setting up a text message to come to their phone as the runner crosses milestones along the way.  This helps those on WDW campus to predict where their runner is, and get themselves in position to cheer them on as they pass by.

Other logistical issues to consider:
  • I would recommend taking WDW transportation to and from the Expo for packet pickup.  Parking at the ESPN Sports Complex is a disaster.  Plus taking the race transportation is fun, and you get to check out and talk to other runners.  
  • I would also recommend hitting the Expo on Marathon weekend (if you're only doing the marathon, and not the Goofy Challenge) at the last possible moment, Saturday afternoon.  By this time the expo crowds have significantly lessened, and packet pickup has no wait.  The only downside to this strategy is that by this time, the marathon merchandise has also significantly lessened.  So if you are hell-bent on getting lots of WDW marathon souvenirs, you may be disappointed.
  • Plan time to visit and tour both before the marathon and after.  Some folks make the mistake of thinking they'll be too tired to tour parks after the marathon.  I argue the opposite.  Time on your feet before the marathon can impact your marathon performance.  Time walking around the parks after the marathon is excellent for helping to lessen soreness and stiffness.  
  • The best part about walking around the parks after the marathon is the knowing looks and celebratory experience that continues for days after the race.  Runners wear their medals and race tees through the parks and congratulate each other.  WDW cast members congratulate the runners as well, and the thrill of completing your marathon and the afterglow of the race continues at WDW like no other race venue.
  • Bring shoes other than running shoes to tour the parks after the marathon.  Blisters, swelling, chafing, and general foot soreness can make wearing enclosed shoes painful.  Bring a supportive pair of sandals or flip flops, preferably a shoe that will accommodate compression recovery socks or sleeves.  Yes, you will be much slower limping around in the parks after running a marathon.  But, you will not be the only one, and it's quite humbling and comedic to see others hobbling around.  The groans from runners as they sit or stand (especially in the bathroom or on a ride) is hilarious.  It's a hobble of pride.  
  • Bring your own race day breakfast in case the hotel breakfast is not suitable for your tummy.  Remember, nothing new on race day.  So if you haven't had eggs and waffles prior to a run, I wouldn't recommend downing them at 3am prior to the marathon.  WDW resort hotels provide a runner's breakfast, consisting of something like a bagel and cream cheese, fruit and coffee.
  • On race morning don't forget the sunscreen and sunglasses and/or visor.  It is dark when you leave your room and when the race starts.  It's easy to forget that the sun will come up mid-race, and you will want your shades for the Florida sun.
OK, that was a novel.  But, hopefully someone will find it helpful.  Next post:  The race itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment