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Mike’s Marathon Mind Dump: Part I of II

While preparing for my first Walt Disney World Half-Marathon a few years ago I could not get enough information to please me. Actually I could not find enough help to ease the angst I had as I trained for my first half-marathon.

So today, I am hopefully about to ease the angst of those of you doing your first WDW Half-Marathon by performing Part I of a two part mind dump of just about everything I think that would help you next week.

So here we go.

The Training is Over

There's not much more you can do to prepare. All the training is “in the bank” and now it's time for you to just do it, be it the 5K, half-marathon, full marathon, or even the Goofy…it is time.

Whatever your conditioning is today is what it will be on race day.

By now all of you should have received your Marathon packet which is your marathon weekend booklet as well as your Official Race number Pick-up Card and Waiver.


So let's take a look at how all this will unfold next week and cover some aspects of getting ready for the 2008 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.

Race Garb

You never know what to expect for weather in Orlando in January. For the most part, there is a fairly good chance that it will be dry but the temperature on race day is harder to predict. I have seen the temperature on race day to be as low as 42 and as high as 80 so you need to prepare for anything.

So what should you bring?

Here are some thoughts:

• Running shorts. Your thighs generate a lot of heat so if the temperature is high on race day you definitely want to run in shorts instead of running tights, sweat pants, or running pants.

• Running tights. This is an option a lot of runners opt for because they are light yet will keep you fairly warm in case start time temperatures are low. I always pack my tights in case I need them.

• Sweatpants. The only issue with sweat pants is their weight. Of course if you plan on discarding them during the race then go for it. Remember, as you sweat these babies get heavier.

• Wicking shirt. Many runners prefer to run in material that draws the moisture away from their body. Wicking running shirts can do this for you.

• Sweatshirt. If the temps are cold at the start you may want to bring a cheap sweatshirt that you can discard sometime during the race.

• Socks. This is a tricky one. Use whatever kind of socks you've been running in. Don't change now.

• Running hat. Some runners prefer to run in a hat to keep the sun out of their eyes. Keep in mind that a hat also works to trap heat so that has to be a consideration.

• Running watch. Of course.

• Running shoes. You should be running in shoes that you have broken in already. Hopefully you've been running in them at least a month or so. If you use insoles for your shoes for comfort then by all means use these for the race.

• If you have concerns about rain then you may want to invest in a rainproof running suit and just bring the top to the race. Waterproof running suits are not cheap so think about this before you buy.

Above all be sure that whatever you feel most comfortable in is what you should wear. Be sure you dress for the weather too.

Marathon Weekend Itinerary

Here is a general idea of what you can expect a few days prior to the weekend, the day of the race, and a day or two after the race.


Thursday is the first day of the Health and Fitness Expo held At Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. The Expo is open from Thursday to Saturday but the busy day is Thursday where most runners show up to hand in their waiver and receive their racing pack. This all takes place at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. All runners will turn in their waivers, show a photo ID to pick up their racing pack, and verify their running chip before leaving the Expo.

I suggest that all first time half-marathoners mark Thursday as the beginning of their race day preparation. That means take it easy. I would also suggest trying to get to bed early so that you will get up early on Friday morning. You want to get your body in tune to how Race day will be…especially if you are not used to getting up early.


How you handle Friday will have an impact on your Saturday and the half-marathon. If you take my advice and go to bed early on Thursday night then perhaps you will get up a bit earlier on Friday morning. This is good because you will want to go to bed real early on Friday night so you will be fresh on race day.

For Friday the number one rule is to take it easy. Don't do too much on your legs and by all means do not go crazy in the parks. Try to stay out of the Sun and also plan on an early dinner. It is wise to eat an early dinner the night before the half or full marathon.

Oh yeah, before I forget. Unless you've been on The Atkins Diet, don't go crazy thinking you have to carbo load the night before your race. Just eat your normal meal.

You will also want to try and get to sleep somewhere between 8:00 and 10:00 P.M. because Saturday will be an early day for you. Don't take any chances, set your alarm clock and cell phone to wake you up at a certain time and also request a wake-up call as well. This way you will not oversleep.

So when should you wake up for the big race? That is up to you and how you intend to get to EPCOT on Saturday morning. All race participants using Disney busses must leave their resorts no later than 4:00 A.M. on the day of the race. My timetable has me getting up sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 A.M. and driving to EPCOT around 3:00-3:30 A.M. because of the traffic.

Lay out your race gear BEFORE you go to sleep. This means get all your running stuff ready and that also includes putting your running chip on your shoe and attaching your bib (race number) to your shirt. You do not want to do this in the morning…save time and do this the night before.


You want to make sure that you are well prepared for this day. This means you are well rested the day before and ready to take on 13 plus miles.

Make sure your wake-up time allows you plenty of time to get to EPCOT. Remember that if you are relying on Disney transportation (busses) then you must be on a bus by 4:00 A.M. to guarantee you will be on time for the start. The morning of the WDW half-marathon is one of the heaviest traffic days of the year.

When you get to EPCOT's Wonder Parking Lot where everyone will meet, you should check anything you do not plan on running with like keys, cell phone, or anything else at the Gear Bag Check-in. Bring a small backpack or fanny pack and put everything in it so you will have everything in one compact place. You may want to bring a towel or a change of clothes or something else too.


Treat Sunday as you would a normal day but start off slowly as you may find yourself stiff and sore in the morning. As the day goes on you may feel better but keep tabs on your energy level and take a break if you feel necessary. You deserve it.

The Race: What to Expect

It's next to impossible to describe the atmosphere on the morning of a Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. I can best start off to say that the early morning hour, crowd, and atmosphere is just so surreal you will never forget it.

You will be amazed at the number of people who will be at EPCOT that early in the morning. Besides the race officials and the race participants you will also have spectators. It can be overwhelming but it's important to focus on the matter at hand and not worry about the huge crowd. This is YOUR DAY.

When you picked up your race packet at the Expo you will have been given your corral assignment on your race letter. There are three corraIs; A, B, and C. Corral assignment is based upon expected finish time. Faster runners will be placed up front.

Each corral will be notified when to make its way to the Start. This is the first surprise. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the Start. My guess is that this year's huge crowd may make this journey even longer.

Each corral usually has its own official start with fireworks and streamers.

There will be the singing of the National Anthem and a countdown. Can you stand it?

Water and Food Stops

Some runners like to hydrate as much as possible before a race. If you hydrate too far in advance of the start of the race then your body may process this fluid into waste. Everyone is different so do what is best for you.

I will bring a bottle of water with me to the corral and Start and drink it about 15-20 minutes before the race begins.

There are nine water stops for the Half-Marathon. Even if you are not thirsty it is a good idea to drink at every stop, especially if the temperature is warm on race day.

Right after the Mile 10 marker race volunteers will be handing out Clif Shots which are gels that can give your system a little sugar and caffeine boost for the last 3 miles. This is a matter of preference but if you are feeling that you are running out of energy you may want to grab one or two of these gels, get it into your system, and then grab a drink. It might help. I like the apple pie flavor myself.


Part II

Part II of my marathon mind dump will talk about the course, post race guidelines, spectator information, and anything else I can squeeze out of what I remember from the several WDW half-marathons I've experienced.

The previous post in this blog was MouseFest Monday, December 10, 2007.

The next post in this blog is Mike’s Marathon Dump: Part II.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 5, 2008 8:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was MouseFest Monday, December 10, 2007.

The next post in this blog is Mike’s Marathon Dump: Part II.

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