Wednesday, December 31, 2014

11 Packing Tips for a Running Vacation

The time has come for me to pack my bags for Disney!! (insert massive, nervous energy squee here). The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is almost upon us. I’m thrilled to be going back to the parks.

But I’m also nervous because this will hurt. The marathon distance isn’t easy, folks. And, let’s face it, I could have trained better. I always feel like I could have done more when I'm looking down the barrel of a major event like this. It will hurt. But it will also be blissful, gleeful, exciting, and fun. My hubby, Handsome Jack, always says that Disney has the unique ability to transport you back in time to when magic was real and anything was possible. I tend to agree.

Disney World is a magical place. And running races at Disney is unlike any other race experience: it’s spectacular and overwhelming and easy to get swept up in the excitement. Getting swept up in the excitement can be great when you are three miles into a 26.2 mile marathon. But getting away in the fantasy of it all can be detrimental to your race vacation experience if you don’t plan properly. So this year I decided to plan my packing list. I did the same when I headed to RWA to ensure I didn't forget anything and the planning really helped. So hopefully my lessons learned will be useful to you.

Eleven Tips for Packing for a RunDisney Vacation:

1. Carry your running gear on the plane with you – don’t check the bag that includes your running clothes and race gear. Sure, you could buy all new race gear at the expo if you absolutely had to but you DO NOT want to be in that position. When I fly for non-running trips I general pack in a small carryon bag and a backpack. That’s it. But for a RunDisney trip I carry on my backpack and my gym bag. Inside my gym bag I carry body glide, number belts, extra safety pins, and hair ties in addition to my standard running gear of sports bras, leggings, and shirts.

2. Doing more than one race? Bring more than one pair of shoes – Handsome Jack and I learned this the hard way in 2013 when we did the Goofy Challenge. When Marathon day rolled around our shoes were still moist from the day before. Nothing terrible. But it was uncomfortable. And blister inducing. This year, with the Dopey Challenge we are definitely bringing two pairs of shoes.

3. Bring hand sanitizer and EmergenC – in 2013 Handsome Jack and I got the flu during the WDW Marathon Weekend. We started feeling bad the day of the Half. We spent most of the day, after the race, in our rooms, asleep. About 2/3rds of the way through the Marathon we knew something was off. We were more than tired. We were sick. WDW is a magical place but it can also be a festering pit of germs. Be prepared. Get your flu shot. Bring hand sanitizer to use between regular hand washing. And bring your vitamins or Airborne or EmergenC. Bring it and use it.

4. Bring Ziploc baggies, BioFreeze, and Ace Bandages – I don’t know why I didn’t think about this sooner, but your hotel will surely have an ice machine. Use it. Fill those baggies and wrap them onto sore spots with the Ace bandages. You’ll feel better, faster, with application of ice. There will also be ice available at the end of the longer races (Half and Full) which I always take advantage of. But for in-room icing you can’t go wrong with zip lock baggies.

5. Bring food. Food is your friend – I’m a huge fan of staying on property and using the Disney Meal Plans. We love going to the very nice restaurants WDW has to offer but running makes you HUNGRY, or as some like to say, Rungry. You may not like the snacks available in your resort. You may not want to shake up your diet a few days before a big race. Either way, it’s best to bring some simple food with you. I like to bring jerky, walnuts, almonds, and instant oatmeal. Just remember, like with most race related advice, stay away from anything new on or near race day. This is not the Disney trip where you test if the human body can sustain on nothing but Dolewhips.

6. Don’t forget trash bags and tube socks – okay, this one sounds strange, I know, but stay with me. The starts to the WDW races are usually a bit of a hike from where the buses drop you off. That means a shivery, early morning hike to the race start is in your future. To stay warm, consider bringing trash bags. Rip a hole for your head and suddenly your sporting something Mugatu might put in his Derelicte campaign (any Zoolander fans out there? Anyone?). Tube socks are simple, cheap ways to keep your fingers warm.

7. Oh, and don’t forget your water bottle – this seems like a no brainer. You can carry on an empty water bottle. I love my big 64 ounce bottle. And you can bring water into the parks. It’s important to stay hydrated.

8. Costumes elements and the equally important Costume repair kits – this is my first year running a Disney race in costume (and I will be doing 4 races). If costumes are important to you don’t risk checking them. Carry them on in your carryon. But if you don’t have room (like me) then you’ll need to check them. The costumes required a lot of prep work and now that they are done, I needed to make sure every costume was packed with all its pieces. To do this, I laid out each costume and all of its parts, then rolled each element (to save space) and packed them together in one bag I plan to check. Next, I gathered items that I thought would be handy in making in-room costume repairs: glue gun, glue sticks, sewing kit, etc.

9. Staying on property? Don’t forget your Magic Bands – again, seems like a no brainer but I nearly forgot ours. We left ours out on the kitchen counter thinking we couldn’t possibly forget them if they were sitting there…..uh, yeah. We almost did. So I shoved our Magic Bands into my carryon. Done.

10. K.I.S.S. clothes for the rest of the trip – running comfortably is always a priority for me, so much so that on running vacations my running gear takes up a lot of packing space. We still have fun - We try to go at least one park every day during a runDisney vacation. But the clothes I pack for the days in the park fall into the KISS category (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I bring outfit elements that I can easily wear more than once (given they stay relatively clean) and only one pair of comfortable shoes (two max, if space will allow) and a pair of flipflops. Granted, this is harder if you have any fancy plans that involve dressing up. Since it can be warm in FL, even in January, I also pack a bathing suit.

And one more for good measure:

11. Bring Ibuprofen and Imodium AD – these are optional, I suppose, but come in handy. I take the Ibuprofen after a race to help with aches and pains. You can buy it on property at some kiosks but it’s pricy. And the Imodium is helpful if you want to prevent going number two while on the go. If you’re running for time you might not want to take a potty break. I’m not running for time this year so I don’t know if I will use it or not. But I’m bringing it, just in case.

That’s my packing plan. I hope it helps you prepare for your running vacation. Enjoy those magical miles.

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