We’ll get to the questions in a minute – but real quick, here’s what you need to know…
My name is Jessica and I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland last month.
But before this January I hadn’t run a race – or run at all – or done any exercise, for a looong time. I’m not really proud of it, but I am pretty proud that I was able to go from Zero to Half-Marathon in 18 weeks. If I did it, you can do it too – and here’s why you should…
- You love Disneyland! The things you get to see and do during the half-marathon are fairly exclusive… you’ll only get to see/do them IF you do a race! Plus it’s an excuse to get to visit the parks afterwards!
- You need the exercise, enough said.
- You need the motivation! Paying the hefty race fee and planning a whole family trip around this race was plenty of motivation to keep me on schedule with my training.
- You can do it! The runDisney training program I followed starts out slow and it isn’t overwhelming – it allows you to run, jog, or walk, it starts out at with a 2 mile goal, and you only have to commit to exercising 3x a week.
I wouldn’t be writing this post without my sister, whose crazy idea this was, and without LOTS of help from Babes In Disneyland contributor Vy. She has run four runDisney half-marathons (two in Disneyland and two in Walt Disney World) and kindly answered all of my running and racing questions throughout the last few months and gave me heaps of moral support. You can find her Half Marathon First Timer’s Guide here. Like a good Babes in Disneyland reader I followed all 7 of her great tips, but as the race drew closer I needed answers to those important questions that weren’t answered on the website or in the race guide. (Her answers are in purple below.) So without further ado, heeere weee gooooo:
1. What do you recommend eating/not eating the night before? Definitely no alcohol, no fried foods, try to keep it nourishing (there’s a reason why people eat pasta beforehand). Protein is important but avoid dairy, anything that bloats you.
2. What do you recommend eating for breakfast before the race? The race information guide is really helpful because I think everyone is different. I usually eat some dry cereal and bananas for extra potassium to help with cramping. (Insert: We ended up eating a banana and a Lara Bar for breakfast and brought a little bag of almonds to eat along the way.)
3. Coffee – yes or no? At your discretion – I usually drink a little bit of coffee to perk myself up. I’ve seen them offer it at the WDW races but I haven’t seen them at the Disneyland ones. (Insert: We didn’t have coffee, but we noticed that the La Brea Bakery and Starbucks in Downtown Disney were open – with LONG lines.)
4. How often / where are there bathrooms along the way? Port-a-potties are available at race start but I highly recommend stopping at the restrooms INSIDE the parks if you really need to use them (the first few miles when you run through Disneyland/DCA). They have some port-a-potties along the way but I can’t say how often. (Insert: I think there was only rest-stop once we left the parks, probably around mile 9 – we took Vy’s advice and used a park restroom in California Adventure right before we hit the Anaheim roads. The port-a-potty lines were crazy long.)
5. Will we need jackets that early in the morning? It will be chilly when you start that early in the morning, but you honestly won’t need a jacket – you’ll end up stripping it off once the adrenaline starts pumping. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you buy a cheap throwaway sweatshirt or something… you WILL get warm! (Insert: Vy was right – and the ground for the first few miles was littered with tossed jackets, sweatshirts, tutus, and wings – that I assume got annoying.)
6. Did you use the clear gear bags they give you for your stuff to take to the finish line? My husband was waiting for me at the finish line so I didn’t use the GEAR Bag but if both of you are running, you may want to consider checking one. I did use it at WDW but the lines can be REALLY long. It’s only if you plan to change and get out of your clothes to go do something else and you don’t want to stink or wear a tutu to breakfast, etc. (Insert: We didn’t use the bags, but it appeared that the pick up lines weren’t too long, at least when we finished.)
7. Do you use a pack or anything to take stuff with you on the way? (I want to bring my phone – which I do have a pocket for – lip gloss, Tylenol, energy snack) I used to carry a water bottle with me that had a zipper for lip gloss. I’ve realized that I focus better when I am hands free and there are plenty of water stations. The only thing I do carry is my Clif Shot Bloks – that’s the only time I wish I had a fanny pack or something that I saw people carrying on their waist. One last note – to carry my phone, I used an armband for my phone because I listen to music and track my run with Nike+ running. There are some armbands that also have built in pockets for small things if you want to bring that!
8. If we are unable to check in for the race the day before, how early should we be there the morning of? Since you can’t check in the day before, you won’t be able to get your GEAR bag or even your shirt… give yourself at least an hour before start time to get to the booths to grab your bib number. (Insert: We called runDisney a couple of times about this and were given different answers: a) You can’t check in at all, b) You need to be there by 3:00 am, c) be there an hour early. Thankfully we were able to check in the day before and didn’t have to worry.)
9. What do you do after the race to help you not be so sore? Soaking my legs in cold water in the bathtub really helps – that’s something that is suggested in the race guidebook and I’ve done it and it helps. I also wore KT tape and made sure to walk around to keep blood flowing. Jeff Galloway run-walk-run really helped me recover fast with less pain and no injuries. (Insert: Also bring lots of ibuprofen / acetaminophen.)
10. How often do they have water and/or snack stations? I want to say it was every 2-3 miles they had water stations (Insert: I think it was more like every 1.5 miles) – mostly Powerade and water only. They don’t provide snacks but you’ll see many local OC organizations handing out licorice and oranges and such so take them! I usually take some Cliff Bloks, and then they will always give you some Clif Shots (the goo stuff) by Mile 8 or 9. (Insert: Clif Shots are nasty, I gagged on this and was glad my sister had brought a bag of almonds.)
11. And what’s the best piece of advice or most important thing to know about the race? Don’t try to push yourself too hard! Listen to your body and walk/rest if you need to. As long as you finish upright, that’s the important thing. and have fun!!! It’s really an entertaining race… take pics and enjoy your accomplishments. 13.1 miles is serious business!