This Oct. 2nd the Walt Disney World Endurance Series will hold its inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon. This race will take participants from the ESPN World of Sports Complex to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, along the path to Disney’s Beach and Yacht Club complex and Stormalong Bay, before the finish at EPCOT.
The course is not new as it’s somewhat close to what has been used in past races such as Race for the Taste and others but what is unusual for this race is the combination of length and time of the start.
For the majority of the participants, this may be their first half marathon with a 10 P.M. start. That’s right! We’re talking 10 P.M.
So let’s take a look at the challenges a 10 P.M. start time presents to runners who normally look at an early morning race start for most races, especially half-marathons in Florida.
The most obvious issue is how a runner’s routine gets thrown off track by this start time. When we talk of a runner’s routine we refer to such things as training schedule 72 hours prior to race start, diet and eating schedule, activity schedule, and most importantly how to rest before the big race.
For those who have participated in WDW sponsored races in the past the ritual is well ingrained in their minds. Usually the last run for the big race is no closer than 48 hours. Eating is easy”¦most runners prefer to eat their last substantial meal within 12 hours of start time, although maintaining a high level of hydration at all times. Most runners like to run “light” and worry about eating post race.
Activity schedules for runners are pretty standard; the day before a bug race requires most runners to take it easy on their legs and feet and not overdo it. Rest is pretty simple; go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
One thing that works best for early morning starts is that with a good night’s rest runners are refreshed and ready to call upon their bodies for energy when the gun sounds. A well-rested body is ideal for a long race.
Now all that is well and good for that typical morning starts…but what about a 10 P.M. start?
Well that is what is facing my Team AllEars Co-Captain Michelle Scribner-MacLean and I as we approach this, our first nighttime half marathon.
For what it’s worth Michelle and I would like to share with everyone what we feel will work best for us starting a few days before the race and we will cover the issues of training, eating, activities, and resting before the race.
First up is Michelle:
I was very pleased with my summer training routine, which included running, biking, and a little bit of swimming. My distances were increasing and I got more and more confident, until I found out the hard way that I was missing something important: strength training. My iliotibial band (lovingly known as the IT band for most of us) started acting up. I was running, sure”¦but I wasn’t working on getting all the muscles in my legs stronger. This resulted in knee pain and, eventually, a trip to an orthopedist. Now, my physical therapist and I have become good buddies. I had to cut back on the running, work on stretching and strengthening my legs, and gradually build up my distance again.
I’ll be running smarter for the Wine and Dine, remembering to stretch and adjust my pace, as needed, for the long distance. I’ll also be tapering my running a week before the race, so that I’m as rested as I can be.
Because I’ve worked so hard to build back up, I am going to be very careful running this, my first, nighttime race. My biggest concern is Animal Kingdom. Its uneven pavements do a great job simulating the pathways of Africa and Asia, but could result in a potential twisted ankle or strained muscle for a runner who isn’t paying attention. My strategy is to take it slow through that park”¦and pick up my pace for the longer stretches outside of the parks.
In addition to training, I’ve been working on weight loss for the past six months. I’ve lost 30 pounds and can really feel the difference in my neck and knees”¦and I can see the difference in my speed”¦my pace has picked up. I’m still going to stick to my diet, but will be drinking lots more fluid during the days leading up to the race. My brother, who is a tri-athlete, suggested that I drink 100 ounces of water three days before and that I drink a sports drink a few hours before. He also suggested a big breakfast and lunch the day before the race, but a light meal the night before. I’ll also be avoiding fruits and veggies the day before the race and starting my morning by eating apple sauce a few hours before I start to run.
“Resting” and “Disney” are two words that usually don’t go together for me. It’s very difficult to be so close to so many wonderful attractions and take it easy, but I’m planning on doing my best to try to rest. I’m going to be staying out late the night before the race to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party; this will force me to sleep late on Saturday. The rest of the day I’m going to stay off my feet as much as I can until race time.
I’m very much looking forward to this race; I know from experience that Disney races are fun”¦but an inaugural race”¦at night”¦with food and wine at the end? That’s a recipe for fun, in my estimation!
Those are Michelle’s thoughts.
Here are mine:
I like to give myself at least 60 and no more than 72 hours of rest before a half marathon. For the Wine & Dine Half it’s a bit unusually for me because one week before this race I will be running the Wicked Half Marathon in Salem, MA, home of witches and goblins. So after running 13.1 miles that day I will probably rest until Wednesday morning when I’ll run about 8 miles just to keep my legs loose, and then shut it down between then and race night. That gives me 90 hours of rest. The extra 18 hours will come in handy because I really need some stored energy to run 13 miles; no less at night.
I admit that I am one of those people who do not want to eat any closer than 12 hours before a race so a 10 P.M. race start offers quite a challenge for me. Usually for a 6 or a 7 AM start I will have a light dinner the night before, including dessert. I am looking at an unusual dining plan for Wine and Dine. On the Friday before the race I plan to stock up and have three solid meals and I will be attending a dessert party that night. You might say I will be carbo-loading in grand style. Heck, I may even have a Midnight snack at the Picabu Buffeteria at the Dolphin. Methinks that may be a popular place to eat come 2-4 AM after the Wine & Dine Finish Party.
For the Wine & Dine Half marathon Saturday I am probably looking to have a late breakfast on that day and once that meal is finished, try to get by the rest of the day with fluids and juices before race start. Like Michelle, I plan to hydrate as much as possible from Wednesday on. What I will need to be aware of this day is that unlike morning races in which I would eat dinner the night before and then sleep and rest all night, breakfast normally follows a full day of activity”¦not this time”¦read more.
Here’s where it becomes somewhat difficult and discipline needs to step in and play a big role. Normally for a Walt Disney World race, participants can usually have a leisurely day in the parks the day before the race and pack it in early the night before.
However with a 10 PM start time what should the runners do? Well, here is my plan. As I said above I plan to have a light breakfast”¦but I also hope to be out late the night before and not sleep that much so that on race day I will find myself tired enough to require a four or five hour nap in the mid-afternoon.
There are several things I need to avoid”¦temptation to go into the parks that day”¦sure I could go in the morning, especially if I want breakfast in the park and do a few attractions”¦but once the Noon hour hits my plan is to get off my feet and rest”¦I may just take in a movie or two as well.
This is the most important part of the preparation for Wine & Dine is to adjust my activity schedule so I will be well rested for the race. Normally for the WDW Half Marathon my wake-up call is at 2 AM and I leave my room around 3 AM for a 6 PM start.
For this race my schedule has me leaving my room at 7 PM for a 10 PM start, if not earlier. You see, starting at 6 PM Disney transportation will be shuttling participants from the EPCOT parking lot to the ESPN Disney World of Sports Complex. All participants are to be at the Complex by 8:30.
So how will I do? I don’t know. First and foremost the goal is to always finish the race”¦secondly not to overdo it and injure myself”¦been there”¦done that”¦finally it’s always nice to shoot for a Personal Record (PR) but in this case we are talking a brand new course being run at night so your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen.
I just don’t want to run in a hurricane.
Good luck to everyone running the first Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon!!!