Fueling for the Big Drop!

Night races can prove to be challenging when it comes to eating throughout the day leading up to the race. This is even more difficult at Walt Disney World when you are tempted by all the delicious but not so healthy menu items that can be found around the resort.  Today Shannon is here to go over her meal plan from last weekend’s Tower of Terror 10-Miler and how she stayed properly fueled all day and into the wee hours of the next morning.  If you are running the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in a few weeks, these are GREAT tips to help you get ready!

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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ 10 Miler is always tricky. Ten miles doesn’t seem as demanding as a half marathon or as daunting as a marathon. It is easy to say, “It’s only ten miles. I don’t need to do anything special.” But I’ll tell you now, unless you are a seasoned long distance runner who also is a diehard Walt Disney World® guest and can party like a rock star till the wee hours of the morning, (and if you are all three of those, I hope we meet someday!) then you may not want to take this run too lightly. Perhaps I can explain it in a simple equation:

10 miles + 10:00 p.m. start time + 3:30 a.m. closing of the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash + 3 days in the parks + 90o typical Florida heat × 80% humidity proper prep work and fueling = potential disaster zombie. 

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Since this was my third Tower 10 Miler and I had a frightful time last year with my fueling, I was determined to fuel properly. I did some studying up on fueling for a night race and found basic standard advice for any race:

1) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Not just on race day but several days before.

2) Practice. Not just running but also fueling and never try anything new on race night.

And here is where it gets night race specific:

3) Rather than eating any big meals, eat several smaller carb/protein balanced meals of an easy to digest variety and avoid fats on race day. Don’t overeat, but also don’t let yourself feel hungry to avoid overeating or making a poor food choice, like the chili dog craziness that I was craving.

Speaking of which, I can actually sum this up in three words: DON’T EAT THIS.

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I was able to stick with my plan for the most part and stayed light on my feet when I couldn’t, which is key during a race-cation since you don’t have complete control of timing and food choices. So without further ado, here is how it went:

7:45 a.m. Our day started with an early Keys to the Kingdom Tour at the Magic Kingdom, so sleep won out over food and we ate on the move with a PROBAR and water for breakfast.

9:45 a.m. I made my own snack mix of walnuts, dried cherries, raisins, salted sunflower seeds and dark chocolate chips and I munched on that through the morning.

11:00 a.m. Lunch was at my favorite place, Columbia Harbour House where I devoured an Anchors Aweigh sandwich (tuna, multigrain bread, lettuce and tomatoes) and their yummy, freshly cooked potato chips with a large bottle of water.

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Throughout the day, I munched on snack mix and drank water.

I was on the hunt for a Mickey soft pretzel but didn’t find one. And though it was in my plan, I didn’t panic or jump at the next snack I saw – like a rice crispie treat – though that might not have been a terrible choice. I’ll try it next time!

4:30 p.m. I ordered a caprese flat bread pizza easy on the cheese, and a Fuse iced tea – it has electrolytes and a little caffeine to keep me running when I should be in bed.

5:30 p.m. As I changed into my costume, which took a while, I sipped on water and drank an Emergen-C before I left the hotel.

8:45 p.m. Between taking pictures with friends and the excitement of the moment, I managed to remember to eat a banana and munch on some mini pretzels (my back up plan for not having the Mickey soft pretzel) and continued sipping on water.

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9:45 p.m. I took my first gel. I like Endurox Accel Gel. They taste pretty good as far as gels go. I know that isn’t saying much!

During the race:

Normally at this race I would run with my own water, but because the weather was great I just used what the race provided – thanks to the volunteers on the course for keeping that water coming!

I took two sips of water at every stop and maybe more when I had a gel at mile 4 and mile 8. I go by miles rather than time for gels since I find it easier to remember. One tip I’ve learned over the years is to swish the water around in your mouth before swallowing. There is science behind this technique making your body think you have more water than you do and it cools your body temp. Don’t ask me how; I’m just sharing something that works for me.

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After the race:

I felt great and took advantage of a bottle of Gatorade and ate a banana within minutes of crossing the finish. About an hour later, I ate a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate milk.

So, did my fueling plan work? Though I stayed the course during the day, I needed the gels on the course when I took them. I did feel drained by the time I ate the post-race meal but that was as much from an IT band issue and the fact that it was well after midnight. I think the real measure of a successful fueling plan is that we shut down the Villains Bash once again!

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There is more and more info out there about night run fueling as this type of race rises in popularity. Here are a few worth checking out.

Competitor.com

Runners World

runwalkfastpassrepeat.com

runDisney Blog

I would love to hear about your night run race experiences – what worked, what didn’t??

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Hi, I’m Shannon.  I am wife, mother, lover of God and just about everything Disney – but especially the Disney Parks and runDisney.  Walt Disney World is my “home” destination, but I also love Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure and just to shake it up I have been to Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and plan to make it to all the Disney Resorts worldwide!   I enjoy helping family and friends plan their magical adventures to the Disney Parks and if you need convincing that you can take a “child-free” trip, just let me know. You can find me tweeting about Disney, running, and staying semi-sane at @PurveyorofPD and on Facebook at Purveyor of Pixie Dust. You can also visit my blog, Purveyor of Pixie Dust.

11 Responses to Fueling for the Big Drop!

  1. Thanks for the shoutout! I had a mickey pretzel after the race it was the best ever. AFter W&D last year I just felt “off”….I felt MUCH better after this race. I think it was 3 less miles LOL. Fun seeing you before the race….you were wait for it…. dyn-o-mite. 🙂 Where did you get your cheeseburger, Shannon wanted one so badly.
    Julie @RunWalkRepeat.com recently posted..New Run Walk Repeat Design is Here!My Profile

  2. Kerri Peterson-Davis

    I’ve heard that anchors aweigh sandwich is amazing! can you work on disney doing some cycle events?

    seriously – great stuff here, Shannon

  3. Katherine Robeson

    Shannon,

    Great tips! I have it in my bucket list to run the half down the vegas strip which also starts at night. I have been trying to figure out the best way to fuel for that especially since I run morning halfs on an empty stomach (race anxiety gets the best of me). So I will be working with these tips for that race.

    Thanks!
    Katherine

  4. Good advice that I hope to apply to my first night race in 2015.

  5. This is super helpful! Fueling and nutrition are of great interest to me and this article is great! Thank you!! Love the water swish tip too

  6. Glad you enjoyed it, Sandra! Keep on running!
    Shannon @PurveyorofPD recently posted..If it weren’t for me, the average marathoners would be in last place…My Profile

  7. Great post Shannon! Loved the tips. Fueling for a night race and not wearing yourself out the day before can be a challenge. Looks like you had a blast 😀

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