So now begins the true dilemma of running the Disney Marathon Weekend: what is the balance of getting ready for a race and having fun? I think the first thing you need to do is decide what type of race this is for you. Once we do that, I can help with the rest. My personal opinion is this: First and foremost I am running this race because it is fun and I want to have an amazing time. Secondly, I do want to capitalize on the opportunity and do the very best I can do. However, my first goal remains to have fun.
If your goal is all about the time and the time alone, you might have chosen the wrong race. You can do that at Disney, but I think you are just missing out on some of the weekend experience. If your goal is to go after a PR, then you really to need probably stay away from the parks before the race and choose to tour the parks after the race. I would save the next few days after the race to tour the parks. That is my suggestion.
So how do we have fun without wearing ourselves out? It sounds like it is time for another Trey’s Top 5. These are my suggestions on how to tour the parks and have a great time without impacting your race performance. Ready?
#5: Sleep and Eat
Sleep in and eat breakfast. Sounds simple enough right? We all know as we get ready for a race it becomes really difficult the night before your race to sleep well. So the days leading up to the race, make sure to sleep in. Touring the parks is much easier if you get there early, but this is not a normal circumstance. Relax and sleep in a little and maybe grab some breakfast at the resort. Instead of being at the park for rope drop as soon as they open, get there mid-morning. This gives you a chance to get a little extra rest and get to the park in a relaxed mood. Get some extra sleep and grab a bite.
#4: End Early
End the day early. Disney does a fantastic job of knowing how to end a day at Disney World. The fireworks are amazing! However, in the days prior to the race I would recommend heading back to your resort just a little bit earlier. Save those fireworks for a post-race celebration. We will get to recovery at Disney on a later week, but I would recommend getting back to your resort a little earlier and get some relaxing done. There are some amazing places to relax at each resort and kick those feet up.
#3: Sit Down
Take a seat. I am a guy who walks and stands all the time. I have the stand-up desk at work, I walk while talking on the phone and I am always moving. When it comes to marathon weekend I change it all before the race. Find a seat. Go spend time at attractions where you can sit and not stand. If you are waiting in the park for someone, sit on the bench. Always look for a place to sit. It will surprise you at Disney just how much you stand and walk. On an average day of park touring you will walk close to 9-10 miles. Don’t make this an average day of park touring! When you can sit, SIT! Your legs will thank you on race day. Trust me, I have made the mistake of touring too much and I remember at mile #2 feeling the heavy legs from the days before. Have a seat every chance you can get and take your time.
Focus on the priorities. You are not going to see everything in the theme park touring like this, but you have to be ok with that. I would do your research prior to arriving at the park and decide on what are the five attractions you really want to experience. If you focus on those five and get those done, you will be fulfilled. Sit down and decide which attractions are the ones you really want to experience. I would also try and make a plan on the best way to tackle them so you are not crisscrossing and racking up miles around the park throughout the day. Make your plan by priorities.
#1: Take the Other Path
Slow down and choose the path less taken. You will be shocked at the little things you notice at Disney World when you slow down. Make it a point to look around and take in things you would not expect. Look for hidden Mickey’s, look at windows and signs. Read the things most other people might miss. This is one of the best ways to enjoy Disney World. I am a fast walker, but on race weekends I take on a different pace. Stroll around, look at the sights and determine to yourself to notice something each day you have never seen before. I guarantee you seeing the park at this speed will give you a new experience most other guests never have experienced.
So back to the course….
Last time we left off we were passing mile marker #14 on Osceola Parkway. After we passed this mile marker you have a chance to hit a water station. The video pretty much says it all. I know different runners can have struggles at different parts of the race. For many runners it is around mile 20. For me it has always been 14-18. Once I get to 20 I feel like “I got this”.
This part of the course in the past has been the toughest for me. It is another tough 3 mile stretch. I know if I can make it past this 3 mile stretch, I am doing this. There is just not much to see, the sun is starting to rise overhead and I feel like I am a long way from home. This is a stretch which requires the mental toughness you have been training to acquire. You know those tough long runs you have on the schedule coming up? It is for stretches of the race like this, so press on.
Disney has done a solid job over the years of trying to step up the experience on this stretch. My favorite was during the 20th anniversary of the marathon when I encountered the grave diggers on this section. I felt like I appeared to be easy prey for them! I told them I was not ready yet and to quit looking at me like that! You do experience an overpass during this section and you will probably see some folks walking this. If you are a run/walk/run person I would consider saving the legs and walking this overpass. It might pay off over the next 10-11 miles. Just beyond this overpass I think you will hit mile marker #15.
Probably ½ mile past the mile marker you get another chance for food and water. Take it. You need calories as you are really burning through them now and you need what you can get to make it to the finish. Not too far up the road and you will experience mile #16.
This is a point where many runners like me can get discouraged. If you look to your left at mile #16 you will see runners headed the other way 5 miles ahead of you. Stay focused on the task at hand. Mile #16 is that magic number. Get to mile 16 and you can begin to use your strength. Practice in training what you need to use during the race. Use this point and tell yourself, that is going to be me very soon. When I am there, I will celebrate just how close I am.
You will soon see the turn towards the Wide World of Sports Complex. You know this place! This is where you came to the expo and picked up your bib. At about the 16.5 mile point you will take the right hand turn and head towards the complex. Get to mile #17! Once you get there, I am telling you that you can make this happen. As you arrive you will take a right hand turn and get a chance to grab some water. Last time there was also a nice cool wet sponge to keep your body temperature down. Take it!