Tips for a Nighttime Race

With the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon in the evening this Sunday, I thought I would offer up some evening race tips that I learned (the hard way) at the DisneyWorld Wine and Dine ½ Marathon this past October. The three main issues are sleep, food, and post-race partying.

Sleep:

The DisneyWorld race started at ten o’clock at night, so a bit of a sleep schedule adjustment was required. Some participants slept in late while some opted for a mid-day nap. This will be less of an issue with the Las Vegas Marathon, since the full marathon is at 4:00, the half at 5:30. I’d bet that most Vegas Marathon participants will be better rested than any other race, since most races tend to start at some god-awful hour in the morning. Sin City Runners will have all day to sleep in before working their way down to the start line.

Food:

Eating was my problem during the DisneyWorld ½. For no reason at all, I live in mortal fear of being hungry, so I unwisely decided to eat a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner before the race. After mile six or seven my stomach was not happy with me. I think it would have been better to mimic my typical morning race eating habits: I don’t eat at night (unless I’m sleep-walking and eating, which I hope isn’t going on!) and have a small breakfast a couple of hours before the race start. Mimicking this pattern for a ten o’clock race would have meant enjoying a carbo-loading type breakfast in the morning, skipping lunch and dinner, and then having a small snack a few hours before the race. For the late afternoon start in Vegas, I would go with a dinner the night before, a very small breakfast and a small snack around lunchtime.

Post-race Party:

An evening race in both Orlando and Las Vegas make sense because of the atmosphere of both cities. Although the type of partying that happens in Orlando is completely different than what happens in Vegas, each town survives on tourism and celebrations tend to be extravagant. So an evening race is perfect. In Orlando, finishers of the Wine and Dine event are treated with a free glass of wine and a gift card to spend at one of the many “around the world” eateries scattered throughout the park. In Las Vegas, runners get free admission to a variety of nightclubs (Tao, XS, and Lavo).

Therefore, this is NOT the race to kill yourself over. Don’t try and set a PR, qualify for the Boston Marathon, or reach any other running goals. You’ll want to ride that post-race high all night into your celebration.

Trust me. I didn’t do this. I was bound and determined to run my DisneyWorld 13.1 miles in less than two hours (on a full stomach, apparently), and was miserable after the race. I ran it in 1:57, but had no interest in wine or food afterwards. My plan to document and enjoy the post race party went by the wayside (you’ll notice there are no pictures here). I went home and crawled into bed.

So to those of you running in Las Vegas on Sunday, ENJOY IT! Have a nice easy race, high five an Elvis every mile, pump your fists at the finish line, and rock the night away.          

The Southernmost Dessert in the Continental USA

My friend Denise and I were in the Florida Keys for one cloudy day. We had Kenny Chesney’s “Key Lime Pie” song on repeat for the majority of the Miami to Key West drive. Yes, this day was about one thing and one thing only:

 

The first bites of Key Lime Pie were at Bob’s Bunz in Islamorada, which is the second “town” you hit after leaving mainland Florida (Key Largo being the first). We shared a slice and to top things off I also had a Key Lime bundt cake. A mini one. I’m a little ashamed to say that I liked the bunt cake better than the pie.

 

After driving the rest of the way to Key West and visiting the Southern Most Point in the Continental USA (which was next to the Southernmost House in the Continental USA, the Southernmost Deli in the Continental USA and the Southernmost Seventh Day Adventist Church…) we headed to Jack Flats restaurant for mahi-mahi sliders and more key lime pie. Both were good, but key lime wise, the mini bund cake was still my favorite desert. Denise liked Jack Flats pie better than Bob’s Bunz, but possibly because of the whipped cream presentation (see the picture above). Jack Flats is in downtown Key West at 509 Duval Street, Key West, FL, 33040. Call them at 305-294-7955.

 

I was getting pretty full, but was prepared to soldier on with the task at hand. So we headed to the dollar-bill-infested Willie-T’s. Apparently the thing to do here is to write something cute on a bill and staple it to the bar. This made me realize that I hadn’t brought my stapler along on this road trip. I had scissors, tape, and markers. How could I have forgotten my mini-stapler? Quite the oversight. Anyways, I ordered a Key Lime Pie Mojito, which was disgusting (as evidenced by the picture below). I tried to drink it all because it was $8 (apparently Willie T’s thinks they are a hot Las Vegas nightclub). I failed.

 

Not that I was particularly hungry, but when we passed Upper Crust Pizza and saw the sign for chocolate covered frozen key lime pie on a stick, I had to check that out. It came individually wrapped, and I was afraid it would just be an ice cream bar with a lime-flavored ice cream, but oh, no. It was WAY better. The lime-y flavor was tart and delicious and there was even a layer of graham-cracker crust.

 

After vowing to run twelve hundred miles the next day, I ate the whole thing. Denise got one bite. A small bite. The ice cream bar trumped the bundt cake.

On our way out of town the next morning we had to stop at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen for one last key lime pie. I really didn’t want a frozen chocolate covered ice cream bar to be my favorite key lime dessert. According to my friend’s friend’s friend who spend a couple of years in the Keys, Mrs. Mac’s is the best.

 

It’s a cute dive-y type restaurant, and when we ordered a slice of pie to go the waitress gave us two because apparently the first slice she’d dished up was too small. We grabbed our to-go pie and hit the road. Somewhere after West Palm Beach we remembered about the pie sitting on the floor. It was melted.

I ate it anyways. It was like key lime pie soup with graham cracker crust crumbles. If it hadn’t melted, Mrs. Mac’s pie would have probably been the best. The crust was especially good, all buttery and rich.

So to re-cap: I went on a key lime pie tour, liked a stupid chocolate bar the best and melted a slice of pie. Good thing I’m not a food blogger.

If you are heading to the Keys and want some real food advice, check out the blog of a “Florida Keys Girl.” Amongst other entertaining posts, she has reviewed most of the restaurants on Key West. There’s no way this chick would let her key lime pie melt.  

Disney World with a Former Cast Member

If you are headed to a Disney Park anytime in the near future, get to know a cast member first. For those not in the know, “cast members” are anyone who works for Disney. The people switching out trash can liners outside of Splash Mountain: Cast Members. The cast member I was traipsing around Disney World with (aka my kind-of-sister-in-law Brigid) has worked in Disney hotels, parking trams, and she’s been a tour guide for The Great Movie Ride. This coupled with her general hotness has inspired the nickname ‘Tour Guide Barbie.’ Anyways, here are a few tips that I picked up on while traveling through the parks with an ex-cast member.

 

You don’t have to do the “Disney Death March”

This is otherwise known as the we-will-see-everything-and-ride-every-ride-because-we-paid-a-million-dollars-for-these-tickets syndrome. Guess what? If you’re not having fun, the tickets aren’t worth it. Brigid and I wandered around at a leisurely pace, went on a few rides with short lines, actually sat down to enjoy our Epcot food, and only saw a fraction of the park. It was nice. We weren’t exhausted or cranky at any point and I felt as if I was actually on vacation. My feet didn’t even hurt the next day. This was especially nice because I’d ran the Disney ½ Marathon the evening before and was not in the mood for another physical feat of endurance.

 Don’t miss the hidden Mickey’s

All over the parks are hidden images of the gigantic-eared mouse and his friends. Whether it’s on the golf ball flying towards you on the Soarin’ Ride or in the place settings on the Haunted Mansion Ride, these hidden images are fun to be on the lookout for. I am naturally an oblivious person and I needed Brigid to give me lots of advance notice. (“okay, look here…it’s coming up…right there! Oh, you missed it” was her typical run down) If you aren’t hanging out with a cast member, pick up a “Hidden Mickey” book before your next Disney adventure.

Engage with Cast Members: Cheer loudly and wave exuberantly

I don’t just mean with those who are in costume. Every single Cast Member is trained and usually wants to “play” with guests at the park. Laugh at the corny jokes that your tram operator tells. Applaud wildly when your tour guide escapes the evil clutches of some bad guy. Make eyes at characters on floats during the parade. The Cast Members appreciate it (they are on stage after all, give them some love!) and you’ll have fun being cheesy.    

Special events are worth it:

If you can swing it, don’t go to Disney on any old day, make it special. I was there for Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, wherein one can eat/drink “around the world.” We also went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween (which runs from late September to the end of October). We dressed up and got tons of candy. Where else can two almost-thirty-year-olds do that? Check Disney.com to stay abreast on all special happenings. One word of caution though: the parks do reach capacity on New Years, Christmas and the 4th of July. Get there early and don’t leave. Once the parks are full, you can’t get in, even if you purchased your ticket weeks in advance.

 

If you can’t go to Disney with a Cast Member, don’t feel too bad. My buddy also talked along with all the ride commentaries and sang along with obscure theme songs. This could annoy some people…

 Love ya Brig!