In an effort to prove I don’t hold a grudge, even if that grudge is against myself, I want to state publicly that despite the heartbreaking loss of a new PR, the Big Sur Half Marathon that Brad and I ran last November was, in a word, incredible. It is definitely my new favorite race after the Disneyland Half Marathon. They had so much entertainment on the course. Many cheerleading groups from the local high schools turned out. In addition they stationed a different musical group at just about every mile marker. Impressive! We encountered some new age artists, a tribal drum circle, a classical pianist, bluegrass quartet, jazz band, and some good ‘ol rock and roll. The music and the cheers were rivaled only by the dramatic and romantic northern California coastline, which we ran along practically the entire race. I really look forward to making this trek up to the gorgeous central coast an annual running tradition.
In reflecting on the event, I also realized I never posted here on the blog the AMAZING video that Brad put together of the race. Sorry Brad! I know I shared it on other social media platforms, but I can’t believe I forgot to enshrine it here where it belongs, on Running to Tahiti. So here it is, our beautiful weekend on Monterey Bay.
(Oh, by the way, just so there’s no confusion, many of you are probably wondering, Why does she keep talking about Monterey when it was the Big Sur Half Marathon? Well, it’s actually only called the Big Sur Half Marathon, but the entire race takes place in Monterey and Pacific Grove. The event is put on by the same organization that does the Big Sur Marathon, and I guess they want to keep their titles consistent. The FULL name of the event is the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay, but who can type such a long title over and over again. Not I. Anyway, that’s that, carry on)
I’ve been meaning to write this painful post since November. The holidays, life. It takes up time. Here I am sitting down to write this and trying to figure out exactly how to convey the heartache that perhaps only a runner can understand. A crazy, obsessive, competitive (with self) long-distance runner. After meditating on the right choice of words, I think perhaps the answer is none. I think the numbers speak for themselves. But first some brief back story.
I’ve been chasing a new PR (Personal Record) for a while. Between a busy life detracting from my running schedule, extreme humidity, and getting a stupid nasty cold a week before a race, a new personal best has eluded me. I felt so great during the Big Sur Half Marathon that I ran last November that I thought maybe the time had come. Allow me to share my standing PR, which I earned in 2012:
2012 Disneyland Half Marathon
FINISH – 02:39:55
and now allow me to share my most recent race results…
The date is fast-approaching! There are about 15,000 runners out there who in just 12 days will be gearing up to run a half marathon! I’m no pro, and I don’t have a degree in physical therapy or any professional experience with athletics, so I rarely feel like I can give proper advice about things like injuries or technique. I’m just a girl who’s been running for 15 years, some years more robustly than others, and the only advice I have to offer is what has worked for me. It may work for some, won’t work for others. Every runner is different! Today I offer such advice as you prep and pack for your trip to Disneyland! I’d like to share with you some of my must-have items for Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. This checklist should apply to any half-marathon really. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick out the Disney specific items 🙂 (e.g. you probably don’t need to bring your Mickey Mouse Ears to the ING NYC Marathon).
Let’s start from head to toe:
1. Hats! I never know when sunglasses are going to give me a headache, so it’s best to have a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. My runDisney hats are my favorite of course:
You’ll want a hat that’s lightweight and has some mesh along the sides that breathe. Case in point, don’t just go running a half marathon in a regular old baseball hat. After a while you’ll start to feel like you’ve got a winter cap on your head! Visors are a great option because they don’t trap the heat (heat escapes from the top of your head so hats can be tricky on a really hot day). Visors aren’t so much my style but I could learn to embrace them. Maybe they’ll have some at the Health & Fitness Expo!
2. Sweaty Bands. I loooove sweaty bands! I first discovered them at the Dland Half Health & Fitness Expo a couple of years ago and they’re kind of like magic. If you don’t need or want to wear a hat or visor but still want to keep your hair out of your face, you must invest in some Sweaty Bands. They are basically just headbands but the underside is made of this magic velvety material and they DO. NOT. SLIP. I wore one last year when I ran as Alice in Wonderland and the thing didn’t budge once. Nor did it squeeze my head or bother me in any way. Love these things!
3. Hair Ties. This one is for the long-haired ladies and gents. The first year I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon I completely forgot to bring hair ties! You probably wouldn’t make the same glaring oversight but I wanted to mention it juuuuust in case. I was scrambling at 10 pm the night before the race trying to find some hair elastics!
4. Sunglasses. This one is particularly important for the Disneyland Half Marathon. The way the course is laid out, you exit the parks and run east into Anaheim RIGHT as the sun is coming up. The timing is worse depending on what corral you’re in and what time you actually start the race, but for MOST runners you’re going to get stuck right in the eye line of a rising sun. The first year I ran I had to borrow Brad’s sunglasses for this portion. My eyes are super sensitive and his aren’t so much, so he took pity on me. One year we ran the race it was really overcast for most of the morning (as it often is in SoCal) and it wasn’t as much of a problem, but you just never know so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You want to be sure and get athletic sunglasses specifically, and test them out on a run beforehand. A lot of glasses will bounce on your face or fog up when you run and trust me, both are very annoying. Find a pair that work with your stride. Sunglasses.
5. Sunscreen. Speaking of protection from those UV rays, don’t forget to lay on some sunscreen. You’ll be outside running for 3+ hours. Skin cancer is bad! Brad and I really like the Neutrogena sunscreen shown below. There is nothing worse than sweating sunscreen into your eyes during a run (ouch that burns!) and this one doesn’t seem to do that. It works for us. Also, here’s a pro-tip for you: don’t be fooled by a high SPF number. Anything over 30, i.e. SPF 50, 75, 85, is negligible and is just a marketing ploy put in place by manufacturers to get you to buy their product and charge you more. True story. You’re good with SPF 30. Also make sure to get a broad spectrum sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. That is much more important than a high SPF.
6. Chapstick. I hate running with chapped lips! It makes me feel like I’m running through a desert and desperate for water. I’m usually fine if I put some on before the run. I don’t need to bring it in my fuel belt; but if you’re particularly prone to chapped lips, go ahead and bring a stick on the run.
7. Vaseline. Chafing is no joke people. This is an important one you don’t want to forget! Weak spots for ladies tend to be under the ta-tas right where your sports bra sits. Men, it’s more so on the nips. I personally also get chafing spots on my tricep area, which I’m sure means I need to work a little harder to get rid of those chicken cutlets I’ve got dangling (we can’t all be Michelle Obama!). A lot of people buy fancy athletic anti-chafing stuff like Body Glide, but I’ve never tried it. I’ve heard mixed reviews so I’ve never sprung the extra dough for it. There are a lot of options out there. This article from an ultra-runner gives a great breakdown of different products you can try. You have to see what works for you. Me, I use Vaseline. Works like a charm. I don’t love the idea of smothering petroleum all over my breast area but it’s better than chafing. A lot of people don’t like to use Vaseline because they say it stains their clothes. I guess it depends where you need to apply it. So far I haven’t noticed any staining on my sports bras or running shirts, so I’m going to stick with Vaseline. It’s cheap and easy to find.
8. Clothes! An obvious and very important item. You may be so excited to prep and pack your awesome running costume that you completely forget to pack the athletic clothing that goes with it. Also make sure you bring running clothes that you know don’t bother you. For example I have a couple of sports bras that are way more comfortable than others so I’m going to be sure that they are laundered and ready to be packed. Plan ahead. You’re going to want your most comfortable sports bras, undies, socks, etc. I also like to bring a spare of most things. You just never know! Don’t forget to also pack a swimsuit so you can luxuriate by the pool after your race!
The good news is that if you forget anything, there is a Target right down the street from Disneyland so you can pick up pretty much any clothing item you may need.
9. Fuel Belt. Everyone requires different amounts of water at different times on a long race, but I’m just going to tell you from my personal experience, I really don’t think you need to bring water on your fuel belt. RunDisney races are so well fueled. I’ve never ever been thirsty. Every time I feel like I really want a drink of water, there’s a water station right around the corner. Also, through the parks you will run past several water fountains. Water on my belt weighs me down and slows me down. I only wear it when I absolutely have to, like times that I know there won’t be a lot of water along my route. All that being said, I do still wear a belt, just minus the water, and I’d recommend you wear one too. It’s a must for holding various things you probably will need like an iPod, phone, earbuds, ID, gels, etc. The hard part is trying to find one that will match your running costume 😉
10. Phone/Camera. You will most likely want to snap at least a few pics along the course. Especially if it’s your first runDisney race! The parks look so lovely with all of the runners racing through, and they have so much entertainment along the course. Even the city of Anaheim provides a lot of great entertainment throughout the city. I just bring my phone which doubles as my music and camera. It’d be a bit much to have an iPod and a camera, though there are those who do it. Snapping pics with your phone will drain the battery faster, so there’s that.
11. Earbuds. You’ll be so sad to reach for your iPod to start your kick-ass running playlist only to discover you forgot your headphones. Wah wah waahhh. My absolute favorite brand is Yurbuds. I have been on a quest for YEARS to find earbuds that don’t fall out when I run. Never really found a winning pair, until now. I’ve been wearing my pink Yurbuds for a year and they have never ever fallen out while running. Not even once. They are awesome.
12. Compression socks/sleeves. I really love to wear compression socks on a long run. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel like I recover much quicker when I run long with compression socks. Pro Compression socks are nice. They’ll also have a good selection at the Health & Fitness Expo if you want to wait and buy some when you get there.
13. Shoes! It would be pretty silly to forget your running shoes on your trip to a race, but I’m sure it’s happened! And you know what, it’s totally something I would do. I haven’t yet, but there’s a first time for everything. So I’m saying it here, don’t forget your shoes! And make sure you bring a pair that you’ve already broken in. You may be tempted to buy a brand new glistening pair of sneaks to commemorate your half marathon, but you do NOT want to run 13.1 miles in new shoes. Blisters! You’ve got to give yourself a few weeks to break in those puppies. Make sure to pack your race shoes, as well as whatever shoes you’re going to wear AFTER the race and in the parks. Your feet might be pretty swollen from running 13.1 miles so you might want to bring some comfortable walking sandals to wear on the following days. Give those ol’ dogs a chance to get back to their normal size 🙂
14. Running Fuel. You’ll get a Clif Shot, which is basically Gu, at mile 9, but if you’re like me and the mere sound of the word Gu makes your stomach turn, you’ll need to bring your own fuel. At Jeff Galloway’s suggestion, I use gummy bears! They work like a charm. Recently I tried a Honey Stinger Waffle on a 12 mile run and it was actually quite delicious and didn’t upset my stomach, so I recommend those as well. You can also try Clif Shot Blocks. They are nowhere near as gross as Gu, but they still provide replenishing electrolytes. Sometimes I’ll have one or two of these on a long run and they don’t bother my tummy too much.
15. First Aid. Hopefully you won’t really need any first aid from running your half marathon but you might get a blister or two and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be sore. Really smart to bring the essentials: band-aids, ibuprofen (or whatever pain reliever you prefer), antibacterial wipes. If you want to get more advanced, throw in an ACE bandage, some neosporin, an ice pack, or even some biofreeze. If you’re struggling with a running injury, I HIGHLY recommend you get some KT Tape for the run. It’s kind of like magic. They’ll have a booth at the Health & Fitness Expo and you can have one of their reps apply it for you. In short, it’s a very flexible synthetic tape that works optimally with your body movement. As you move, the tape lifts your skin away from your muscle allowing for more flexibility and circulation to the injured area, while also providing support without constricting movement. It kind of helps your body heal itself. You remember Kerri Walsh in the Summer Olympics:
15. Park stuff. Are you going into the parks after your race?? I hope so! The best part is parading around in your awesome runDisney bling and/or race shirt so all of the cast members and guests can say congratulations to you! Also, Disneyland, duh. You didn’t travel all this way to run past Radiator Springs Racers but not RIDE it! So make sure to pack your park stuff. Comfy walking clothes, shoes, hats, and a backpack or fanny pack or comfortable bag you don’t mind lugging around all day. And of course, don’t forget your Mickey Mouse ears!
In review, here is your list:
Sweaty Bands or other headband to keep hair out of your face
Hair elastics (for the long-haired runners)
Vaseline or other anti-chafing gel
Running clothes: your most comfy
Phone and/or Camera and/or iPod
Broken in running shoes
Extra socks, undies, sports bras
Running fuel: Gu, sport beans, gummy bears, Clif Shot Bloks, etc.
First Aid: band-aids, pain relievers, antibacterial wipes
Park gear: backpack, Mickey Ears, comfy walking clothes, etc.
There you have it. Your basic checklist of things to pack for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Did I forget anything? Add on to the list by commenting below. Help other runners prepare for this awesome weekend!