by Happy Keller, WDW Radio Running Online Team Coach
Hello there Dream Team-ers (and future Dream Team-ers)!
With the Princess Half Marathon this coming weekend (February 26th), I thought now would be a good time to write a few words about getting to the Start Line on race morning. These tips are based on my many previous experiences at endurance events at Walt Disney World, but may not exactly reflect how things will function on Princess Marathon morning (the folks at runDisney are always tinkering)…in any case, I’ll bet my Mouse Ears that 99.5% of the advice below will still be accurate!
Tip #1 – Nothing New On Half Marathon Day! – While I know this occurs before you are attempting to get to the Start Line for your coronation & crowning, it should be emphasized that you should not be using anything new (to you) on Half Marathon day. No shoes you haven’t run in before…no fancy blinged-out socks you picked up at the Expo…no Gels you haven’t used before…NOTHING! I am bringing this up for you Half Marathoners because many of you are putting together Princess (or other) costumes to run in. I LOVE seeing this on the course, and have done it myself previously (although not as a Princess…yet), but you should do at least one “test run” of 3-to-5 miles just to make sure you aren’t going to experience any unexpected chafing on Half Marathon Day. [For those male WDW Radio Princesses-To-Be running the 5K (including Lou), you don't need to do a "test run", but you do need to wear the costumes provided to you.]
Tip #2 – If you have a car…DRIVE IT (to the Epcot parking lot)! – I cannot repeat enough how much of the energy you want/need to complete the Princess Half Marathon can be “eaten up” by undo stress. Driving your own car has multiple benefits: 1) You are much more in control of when you leave, 2) You won’t have to wait out in the cold for a bus, 3) After you finish, you can get back to your Resort without waiting for another bus with tired legs.
Tip #3 – The earlier you get to the Epcot parking lot / Start area, the better! – If you take the buses, try to get on the first available. Repeating from Tip #2 –> stress is your enemy, and getting to the Epcot Start area early will help keep your stress level low, plus it also gives you the opportunity to enjoy all of the “Pre-Start” entertainment the runDisney folks have in store for you. Your crowning as a Princess includes all of the festivities, not just the 13.1 miles of the Half Marathon course! This is also a good time to eat a banana, drink some water or sports drink, take pictures, etc.
Tip #4 – As soon as you reach the Epcot Start area, get in line for the Porta Potties! – Even though you probably “went” before you left for the Epcot Start area, trust me, by the time you reach the front of the Porta Potty line you will want/need to go again. There are some Porta Potties on the way to the Corrals / Start as well, but waiting until the last minute to “go” can add more unnecessary stress to your morning.
Tip #5 – When they tell you it is time to get to the Corrals / Start, get moving! – While it is going to seem like you are being asked to get to your Corral / Start way too early, you will be having to walk about 3/4 of a mile from the Epcot Start area to get to the Corrals & Start Line. Give yourself plenty of time to drop off your gear check bag (if you have one to drop off), and get to your Corral so that you’ll be comfortable and as relaxed as is Princess-ly possible prior to the Start. I have always found this walk to be great for working out a bit of the pre-event jitters and just get the blood flowing to all of the muscles you’ll be using to complete your event.
Tip #6 – When you have the opportunity…SIT DOWN! – This goes for the Epcot Start area and the Corrals. You are going to be on your feet for 13.1 miles today, and you want to save as much energy as possible to do just that. I often bring a towel with me to sit on in the Epcot Start area which I place in my gear check bag (useful if it rains or when I am just a sweaty mess after the event). When you get to the Corrals, you should just go ahead and sit on the ground (if you are wearing a garbage bag to keep out the early morning chill, as mentioned during WDW Radio Episode #252 and in one of my previous blogs, you should be able to sit on the “tail” of your bag). You can also do a little stretching (no more than 5-7 minutes) if you want to. Just remember –> more time standing prior to your Half Marathon = less energy during your Half Marathon.
Now you are in the Corral waiting for the Start…just keep breathing and enjoying the moment. You should feel confident from all of your preparation that you are ready for the day. Also think of the Wish(es) you are fulfilling by being a part of the Dream Team Project, and celebrate your entire Half Marathon EVERY STEP OF THE WAY! [And for those of you who aren't part of the Dream Team Project and the WDW Radio Running Team --> click HERE and find out more! Join us!!!]
Have fun out there Royal Dream Team-ers!
Happy is a life-long Disney enthusiast who is also an endurance “athlete”. He has completed 4 Goofy Challenges, and 12 Disney Endurance events so far (in addition to other Half / Full Marathons). He has successfully coached hundreds of Half / Full Marathoners to a successful completion of their event. Currently Happy is training for Ironman New Zealand which takes place on March 3, 2012. When he isn’t training, Happy is surrounded by his wife, Pattie, two Golden Retrievers (Mocha & Kona), and his Disney watch + medal collection. He can be reached for all running questions at email@example.com.