My Tips for Running at WDW

So You Want to Run at WDW?

So by no stretch of the imagination am I an expert at these races but after participating in this weekend 4 times and other runDisney weekends here are my tips, including some for those that drive to the race start!

  1. Go in the Last Hour or so of the Expo on Any Day - Most people say “Go early to the expo” and while that is great advice, this applies more to the die-hard “I need merchandise” group. If you just don’t want crowds and are okay with not getting the pick of the limited merchandise, go late. I’ve gone in the last hour of both the WDW Marathon Weekend and the Princess Weekend expos and literally, you walk right up and get your stuff. It’s super easy. This year I went at 7 on Wednesday to get merch and there was literally no one in the Official runDisney Store in the packet pick-up pavilion. It was empty. 
  2. Go to the Expo with a Game Plan – Look at the vendors and decide before hand what you want to get and see at the expo. Do you want to try out compression socks? Figure out where those vendors are. Want to get a Sparkle Skirt? Yep, find them on the map first. It helps immensely and as someone who gets overwhelmed easily at expos, it helps to keep me focused. I usually do a lap around just to see if anything catches my eye, but it helps if you have and agenda before going into the expo. 
  3. Bring Layers – Florida weather in January can be unpredictable, so bring it all. I always over pack for this weekend, but I’d rather do that then get to race day feeling less than confident in my clothing choices. Also, cooler temperatures can mean moist air and when that gets on your skin you might feel a bit cooler. For me extra humidity also means that my sweat just rests on my skin because there are few breezes to evaporate it. Keep this in mind when planning race attire. 
  4. Follow runDisney’s Driving Instructions – Even if you know how to get around property like the back of your hand, follow the driving directions in the Official race Program. Roads get closed and it’s just not worth the hassle and stress of getting stuck. 
  5. Get To the Race Early on Race Morning – Again the same as above, give yourself an extra 20 min, so you don’t have to stress out if you hit traffic. If you are catching a bus, also give yourself some extra time. Plus, there are plenty of people and entertainment to keep you company while you wait! 
  6. Parking at Epcot? Stay Left – If it’s a race at Epcot, stay to the left as you drive into the parking lot. If they have 2 lanes turning into the parking lots, the left lane will park closer to the start/finish area. 
  7. Take a Picture of Where you Parked – In the morning, walk to the end of your row, pull out your phone or camera, and snap a picture. Presto! You will not be wandering around like a nomad after the race! This is also just good advice for when you are visiting any parking lot that is huge. Post-race you do not what to wander around because you’ve lost your car. You get their super early, run a ton, and then afterwards you may have runners brain, so this helps to ensure you remember where you parked. 
  8. Bring A Camera – Even if you don’t plan to stop, you never know if you are going to find that “don’t miss” character photo op. This happened to me at the Princess Half Marathon, they had a group of princes ready to take a pic and I had no camera.
  9. Find Your Fun – The most common piece of advice is “Don’t try to run for a PR at Disney, just have fun!” however, fun is a subjective word that can mean a lot of things to different people. For me, racing is the fun part of a race. Pushing myself to see where my limits are. I get to the end of races where I stopped for characters and did a bit more meandering and I don’t feel like I necessarily got my money’s worth. If you want to take pictures and chat with friends, do it! If you want to race but stop for a few choice photo ops, do it! If you want to PR, do it! I’ve done all 3 of these options and have had fun at all of my runDisney races. Find your fun in the race and don’t feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you don’t stop for every character or other photo op. 
  10. Have a Plan B – If you are traveling to the race, like many of us do for runDisney races, have a plan B. Many people say to only pack a carry on, but at least wear or have your sneakers with you on the plane. If there is something you can’t race without, keep it on your person for your entire travel. If you are meeting others in your group at WDW, send them your race packet pick-up authorization forms, just in case. This past year at the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend, I had to pick up my stuff on Wednesday for Dopey, but since I only have limited time off from work, I wasn’t arriving until Wednesday morning. Then enter the polar vortex craziness meant I got delayed until 5:30, which for me is too close for comfort to ensure I could pick up my race stuff. Luckily my parent’s had all the forms they needed to pick up my race stuff so it all worked out. Think about the largest points of failure and try to come up with a plan B.

Hope these tips help! Happy running!

Remembering My Princess Half

Hello all,

This week was an okay week for running. Got a hill run in with co-workers and did a track workout and pulled of a 3:25 800m at the end of my workout which is my fastest time to date other than a Middle School track time. For some reason my run Saturday was rougher than expected and my run today was slow and I was sore. It's okay though since I needed to take it easier for the SF Half next weekend to finish my Half It All Challenge (and hopefully hit my 1:45 goal)!

This week's workouts:

  • Mon: Rest
  • Tues: Track Workout (5 miles: 4x800m's with a 400m job in between + 2.25 miles in warm up and cool down)
  • Wed: 3.6 mile hill run here: Stanford Dish
  • Thurs: Rest
  • Fri: 3 easy miles
  • Sat: 5.5 miles through the neighborhood
  • Sun: 11 miles

With the open registration for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend right around the corner I thought I'd do a cliffnotes of my experience back in 2012.

The expo was nice. I went with my friend after work so we kind of had to rush around to get our stuff. They had the expo split between a field house (not the usual one for the WDW Marathon weekend) for packet pick-up and then the normal Expo floor in Jostens for t-shirt and goody bag pick up. The expo was fun, very "chick" oriented, and not as busy or large as the WDW Marathon weekend expo which I liked. I get easily overwhelmed at expos.

I did both the 5k and the half marathon that weekend and both were very fun! Lots of great characters and a really great energy the entire weekend. I love this race weekend! It's so fun and friendly!

The 5k was on Saturday and my friend and I were there an hour before the race start. We weren't going to go too fast, just run/walk it and get lots of pics with characters! The characters at this 5k were awesome and some of my favorites of all 5ks! They had them out in trios which is more fun!

 We are ready to rock! (Me on left, friend on right)

This was super fun, I think we might have passed one character photo-op but it might have just been Mickey in his tux in Future World. I love the 5k races! They are so fun and I love being in World Showcase early in the morning and seeing the sun rise. It's beautiful!

Spent the rest of the day resting in preparation for the half!

The morning of the half, I drove to the start and per my usual for all Disney races got there VERY, VERY early and arrived around 3 or 3:30. I'm always nervous there is going to be traffic, so I always give myself plenty of time. I don't like having to rush to the start line or worrying about not getting to the race.

The start area was super fun. The usual DJ, characters, and tents before going beyond the bag check. I LOVED the bibs for this race! They put your favorite princess on them, color coded them to your princess and also put your name on it, I was Princess Katherine! So cute and a great touch!

Note: I did not run with a camera for the half so there is going to be a lot of text following.

The start was fun, the fairy godmother was out to see us off with a 'Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!' and away we went. We wound our way up to MK through the TTC Parking Gates and through the parking lot. Before we got the parking toll booths there was a hunky group of princes. I believe it was made up of Tarzan, General Shang, Flynn Rider, and John Smith (I think there were more but I'm blanking now). This is one photo-op I sincerely regret not having a camera for.

There were lots of characters throughout MK, the usual from what I remember. Buzz in Tomorrowland, Jessie and Woody in Frontierland, Princess Tiana and Naveen in Liberty Square, and then the castle float in the backstage area with Sleeping Beauty and Princess John as you exited.

Then the run back from MK to Epcot. This is such a dull stretch. The day was muggy and cloudy all morning so it was dull, hot, and flat until we got to Epcot. I lost a lot of steam here and I was not feeling strong or energized at this point. It wasn't until after the ramp into Epcot that I started feeling better (with the finish line so close it's hard not to).

We did the loop from the Epcot entrance up to the World Showplace area and back out to the front with lots of cheering cast members and volunteers lining the way! Very fun! Then those final few turns and down the home stretch. I finished in 1:56 which was a good effort for me at that time, but this race definitely took a lot out of me and I wasn't as prepared for it.

Crown and tutu still intact after 13.1 miles :)

So if you are on the fence about signing up, I would encourage you to just go for it! It's a great weekend and a very friendly race crowd. It's very relaxed and it's a great race for a "girls weekend" or a newbie racer looking for a fun half. I loved it and I hope you will too!

My top tips for the Princess Half:

  • Get there early!
  • Take a camera!
  • Enjoy the fun and dress up!
  • Have a blast the whole weekend!