After lots of back & forth with our fearless childcare provider (AKA “my mom”), we decided to register for the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Mile race, the first step in my Year of RunDisney. The Wine & Dine Half Marathon has been on this same weekend for the past two years. I’ve run both, Paul ran last year’s. We justified this trip by calling it a 13th anniversary celebration and took the opportunity to get away for a few days.
We arrived in Orlando on Wednesday before the race so we’d be able to go to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival on the soft-opening day Thursday. We like having Friday to recover before racing
We attended the race expo mid-day Friday. As always, well organized, no waiting at all to pick up packets & shirts. The expo was the same size as the one for the first Wine & Dine Half Marathon, everything was all on one field. My other RunDisney race, the Inaugural Expedition Everest Challenge, didn’t have an expo – packet pickup was outside and all merchandise was in the tiny Wide World of Sports store.
It had been open a few hours but there seemed to still be a full selection of merchandise. After much debating, we didn’t purchase any additional RunDisney shirts. Those of you who know me know that I have issues with t-shirts of all types and am very, very picky. Men’s cut shirts don’t work for me and most women’s cut shirts are too long. I’ve actually started re-hemming many of my women’s cut shirts. If only tech gear came in petite sizes… I got a white long sleeve Champion tee-shirt from the first Wine & Dine that I LOVE & it fits perfectly but they’ve never used that same shirt again. Anyway, I almost bought the “I did it” shirt, but the back looked pretty lame, since most of the course goes up and down the Osceola Parkway. I put it back and am keeping my fingers crossed for better shirts at Wine & Dine and Marathon weekend. We’ve also wised up to the ridiculous sizing on the official race shirts and now order an extra small for me and a small for Paul. Insane.
I did stop to talk to Jeff Galloway at the RunDisney booth. I wanted to let him know how much I improved for the Murray Half Marathon after attending his running school and let him know that some of my friends are planning to attend the running school before the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY in a few weeks.
Saturday was race day! We had a luncheon to attend with the Disney Moms Panel at the California Grill, so we ate richer food than we probably would have otherwise. I also couldn’t resist and had one glass of wine. Lots and lots of water followed to make up for it! Attending this luncheon was a fantastic opportunity and very, very fun, but we ended up standing & waiting nearly an hour to be let up the elevators to the top of the Contemporary Resort. If I’d realized our wait was going to be so long, I’d have found a place to sit & get off my feet.
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting race gear ready, starting to pack for our trip home, and relaxing by the pool. Around 5 PM, we split a sandwich. By 7 PM, we were on the bus from the resort to the race start in the parking lot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
RunDisney races mean lots & lots of time spent waiting at the start. In this case, Disney transported all 10,000 runners from somewhere – there was NO parking at DHS that night. Paul is always antsy about being late, so we just go ahead early and wait there. There are always lots of photo opportunities, a DJ (and lots of runners dancing!), and time for a pre-race snack. The people-watching opportunities at a RunDisney race are fantastic, I love seeing all the wacky costumes.
It’s still a looooooong wait.
Around 9 PM, we started moving towards the corrals. Only at DisneyWorld do I qualify for a Corral A start! For this race, there were “holding areas” in the parking lot with port-a-potties and water available INSIDE. The lines were much shorter here, loved this! We sat here for a bit, then pretty soon we were being walked down to the start. We walked and walked and walked. I assumed they were walking the other corrals out behind us.
There was the usual “show” at the start. Jeff Galloway came up to remind everyone of his “no puking” policy and many comments were made about the heat, reminders to hydrate, reminders to be courteous to other runners, etc, etc. Finally, we were off!
Paul started ahead of me, which we hoped would put him ahead of the crowds. It was hot. It was humid. We ran out of the Hollywood Studios entrance and pretty soon were up the on-ramp and onto the Osceola Parkway. I didn’t take my walk intervals for the first mile or so for fear of being trampled. Once on the Osceola, I settled into my 90 second run/30 second walk pattern, tried not to go too fast, and enjoyed the run. I was hoping to keep up with my 10:30ish pace and not overrun the course too much. That lasted about 5 miles. It was hot. It was humid. I was sweaty. I slowed down and started being way ahead of the mile markers. I took a gel about mile 4, planning to take another one around mile 7. I accidentally got Powerade at the stop where I had the gel. I usually try to have water with gels, Powerade in between. It was okay, I was thinking of the marathon and how it’s going to be mile 15-17 for that same stretch of highway. I was expecting more characters, stilt walkers, and parade floats like they bring out for Wine & Dine Half Marathon, but there wasn’t much to see along the road. There was a DJ in the median, some of the puppets at the Animal Kingdom, and maybe two character stops? It was hot. It was humid. I was really sweaty.
Then we turned into the Wide World of Sports and headed down a gravel path. There was a metal sculpture thing. There was some spooky lights. There were big generator powered lights that stunk. Runners were pushing & shoving each other. I got all the way over to the side of the path for my walk breaks, but men kept going around me on the outside. People were running 2 & 3 across, taking up the whole path. Then I’d pass the same men who just passed me when I started running. Finally we were back on sidewalk. I was so happy to see the next water stop… and got a tiny cup of water. It was hot. It was humid. I was really, really sweaty and starting to be very unhappy. I started to consider just walking the rest of the way in. I’d finish, I wouldn’t have been swept, I was just sorta over it. Even the volunteers, mostly teens, out in the Wide World of Sports seemed over it.
I kept going on to the baseball field. There were some spectators there with funny signs. I noticed the weird team names on the scoreboard but didn’t “get” them. I also NEVER saw the camera. I saw runners up on the big screen and I “got” that they were running out of the Tower of Terror Elevator, but I never knew where the camera was. A runner near me asked the screen was showing the finish line! I’ve read posts that indicated there were empty uniforms on the field, like the players just vanished, but I totally never noticed that! I really didn’t love running on the soft dirt and I knew that all the turns around WWOS were slowing me down. It was hot. It was humid. I was really, really, really sweaty. I never took my second gel. Maybe I should have, but the thought of it was just not good. I wanted about a gallon of water but I did not want that gel.
Out of the Wide World of Sports, back on the Osceola Parkway. It looked like the medical tent staff was also handing out water if runners stopped & asked, but I didn’t. I should have. Back up the on-ramp, taking a few extra long walk breaks, then back towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Realized Paul should be finished by now. Park time ahead, just keep going. It was hot. It was humid. I was really, really, really, really sweaty.
Into Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I was feeling better. Across the Lights, Motors, Action stage the opposite of the way I’m used to. Up New York Street, spectators are cheering, time to go! Past Toy Story Mania and around and into the costuming tunnel where my Garmin always drops out. I was WAY slower than my planned-for pace and I had overrun the course by about a quarter mile by that point, so I was unhappy but glad to be close to the finish. It was hot. It was humid. I was really, really, really, really, really sweaty.
Around backstage towards Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Enough with the backstage finishes! I’m so, so excited about the new finish for Wine & Dine this year since last year’s just did not do it for me. I picked up my pace in the last half mile and even heard my name called out as I came across the finish line. I knew I was about 1:52 and I’d hoped for 1:45. Where was Mickey? I wanted to high-four him!
I snapped this photo not far from the finish, after I got my medal before they loaded me down with food.
Somehow I ended up with a bottle of Powerade, two bottles of water, and the cool box of food. I walked around through Fantastmic and back out. I skipped the photo lines, I never get those made. I checked my phone to see where Paul finished and how our friends were doing. He called as I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard, he ended up finishing in 1:21:40, 167th overall place. We’ve learned to check our bag under his bib number, so he can pick it up with the smaller crowds. He warned me about the crazy hot changing tent, but I went there anyway because I had just realized how completely soaked I was with sweat. Even the outer layer of my running skirt was 100% soaked. I got out of wet clothes, into dry clothes and ripped into the food box after downing the three bottles of drinks I had. He told me later that the outside view from the changing tents offered an, um, interesting silloutte of everyone changing inside. Oh, well.
I’ve never run a morning race at Disney, so I don’t know if it is the same, but after the first Wine & Dine Half Marathon and after this race, people seemed to be really sick & hurting. There were runners in wheelchairs and on the ground everywhere. I don’t know if people don’t train or just don’t plan for a night race, but there seemed to be a lot of really sick folks. Once I got some fluids, I felt great.
We knew our friends were still running, so we got in a ride on Toy Story Midway Mania with no lines shortly after midnight. We fought the crowds back down Hollywood Boulevard to ride Rock N Roller Coaster, then after seeing the WDW Radio crew we went back to the Echo Lake area for the pretzel hot dog I’d decided on before the race. What? pretzel hot dog is off the menu for the after-race party? WHY? We got milkshakes instead but he didn’t drink much of his. By then it was nearly 2 AM. Our friends finished and changed, then we all went for a ride on the Tower of Terror.
We had one more ride on the Rock N Roller Coaster, shared a small pizza, and headed out of the park. After rehydrating, I could have stayed until they threw me out, but that 8 AM wake up call was coming soon. We ended up in bed about 4:15 AM, got back up at 8 and headed home to Thing One and Thing Two.
Overall, we had a fantastic trip and I enjoyed the race. The weather was MISERABLE, but that’s out of RunDisney’s control. My official chip time was 1:51:52 and I overran the course by about a quarter mile. My Garmin actually showed 10.28 miles – yes, I understand about satellites and running the tangents, but I also know that my Garmin also dropped out for about 100 meters because I was “indoors” in the tunnel. I need to figure out how I can travel in a straight line & stay close to the tangents while still not stopping in the center of the road for my walk breaks. I was glad the after-party was extended until 4 AM and I wanted more entertainment on the course. I’m excited for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in about six weeks and I’m feeling very anxious about the marathon that is now less than 100 days away.