This time next week, thousands of runners from all over the world will be at Walt Disney World for the second Tower of Terror 10 Miler. My very first long-ish race was the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler last year. Since I wasn’t blogging yet back then, I didn’t do a race report. So, I thought, better late than never!
I was so incredibly nervous for this race since it was my first double-digit race. I had done the training but was still very fearful of the dreaded sweepers. Disney has a strict 16 minute mile pace requirement, and while that is a generous requirement, I’m pace challenged to say the least. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop for pictures, and even a potty break was questionable. There were only 4 corrals for the race last year, and I was in C, meaning I would only have a 7 minute lead on the sweepers to start with. Still, I went into the race completely confident in my ability and in my training.
I arrived at the expo as early as I possibly could. Like everything at Disney, you must strategize if you are going to get the most out of it. My plan was to hit the runDisney merchandise booth, get my packets and shirts, and then meander around the rest of the expo to see if there was anything else I was interested in buying. Because I was staying at a host resort, I was able to take provided transportation to the expo.
Even though I got the earliest bus I could, lines were already longish by the time I got there. It already resembled disorganized chaos. However, my plan worked fairly well. I got all the merchandise I wanted, my dad and I got our packets and shirts (he and I also ran the 5k so I had 2 packets to get), and we even got to see one of Jeff Galloway’s presentations. All this and we were in and out in about an hour and a half, maybe two. Not bad!
The next day was the big day. For night races, the 5k and the main race are held on the same day, which makes for a long day if doing both. I wanted to get the most out of the experience so I did both. Dad and I were up around 3:30, I think, in order to be at the buses by 5. The pre-race festivities were fun with Farmer Mickey photo opps, a DJ, and fun Halloween decorations. The race went through the woods of the Wide World of Sports complex. I thought it was a pretty boring course with very few character photo stops. After we finished, we got our medals, snack box, etc. and headed for the buses back to the resort.
The rest of the day was spent resting up for the big night. I began to get ready around 5 pm and got on a bus at 7.
The pre-race staging area was a big party, and some racers were already drinking. I’m sure they regretted that later. I headed straight for the corrals because I wanted to be at the front. By the time I got into position, it was only about an hour until the start so I made a few friends in my corral and took it easy, trying to relax. Before I knew it, it was time for the walk down to the start.
The thing I remember most was the heat and humidity. My plan was to run a minute and a half and walk a minute all throughout the race. That’s how I had trained and felt confident I could stay within the pace requirements with this. However, a mile and a half in, I was finding it hard to breathe. Not only was it so hot and humid, the course was so crowded, I felt like I couldn’t even get my share of air. By mile 3 I had abandoned my intervals and ended up walking the rest of the race. I stayed in front of the sweepers until somewhere between miles 6 and 7. Luckily for me, mile 7 was the last hard cut off point, and I was just barely behind them so they let me through. That was too close for comfort, though. I think they only let about 20 people behind me through. I didn’t stop for any pictures, and I didn’t even stop to potty. Considering I walked all but the first 3 miles, it was so hot and humid, and I could barely breathe, I’d say finishing was a win. I think about 25% of the participants didn’t. I was so worried they would run out of medals that by the time I got into Hollywood Studios, I kept asking all the volunteers if there were medals left. Yes, I know that’s silly. Crowd support was heavy around the hat in the Studios and I almost cried. Everyone was yelling and cheering, and since I was one of the last finishers with no one else around me, they were all literally cheering for me. The finish line was right behind the Tower of Terror but by then I was so exhausted I didn’t even notice it. I wish I had. It would have made for a great photo.
All I wanted when I finished was to get back to the room. I had planned on staying for the after party, getting some food, riding some rides (Tower of Terror, hello!) and maybe getting my medal engraved. It just didn’t happen. I was afraid if I didn’t get back to the resort immediately, I would never make it. That was probably the right call, too, because lots of runners got very sick afterward due to dehydration and heat exhaustion.
I don’t remember much about the course itself. For some reason I’ve blocked so much of it out of my memory. I know I did it. I know I was there. However, I’d never be able to prove it by sworn testimony. I do know that in comparison to the Princess Half Marathon, there were very few character stops and little on course entertainment. I hope they change this because the theming has the chance to be outstanding. Some changes runDisney has made for this year’s race based on last year’s event are that they moved it back a week in hopes that the weather would be enough better to at least be manageable and to have LOTS more corrals to help with course crowding.
Overall, I don’t think I’d ever want to do this race again. I’m happy to have done it the first time. The medal is absolutely awesome! I mean, it has a MOVING elevator, and parts of it glow in the dark! If I hear reports of the theming reaching its full potential, I MIGHT be persuaded to do it again. I really wish I could have stayed for the after party. I REALLY hope I’m in good enough shape after the upcoming Wine and Dine Half Marathon to stay for that one.
Did you do the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler? Are you doing this one?
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