Sometimes you set a goal for your race that seems so simple and easy that you can’t imagine not achieving it. You never even plan for what to do if something fails.
My goals for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler were for Neil and I to run together, have fun, and if all went well I thought we could improve our time over last year. With no training for Neil last year we crossed in 2:14:38 so these all seemed reasonable and achievable. We also decided to have a bit of fun by attempting to go as characters – Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit. It turns out that buying light up bunny ears for $5.95 was one of the best decisions ever.
Because we were staying off property we had to drive to Wide World of Sports and take a bus from there to the start line at Hollywood Studios. Busses would start running at 7 pm and runners were encouraged to be on a bus by 8 pm to ensure they would make it to the start on time. We had to be in our corrals by 9:15 pm for a 10:00 start. We got to WWOS early and were on a bus by 6:40. Busses were filling and we just hung out until they could start rolling at 7 pm.
I made a few seemingly inconsequential decisions about this race:
- I dislike running at night in the humidity with my glasses on. My prescription is fairly light that I can see well enough without my glasses on, but details are fuzzy. I left my glasses behind in the car.
- I opted not to run with a camera.
- I have two phones here in Florida – my usual iPhone 4S and an iPhone 4 with a local number so I can call, text, etc. Because the camera is slightly better on the 4S I brought that phone, figuring that I wouldn’t need to call or text anyone so I didn’t need the 4.
We checked our bags, hit the porta-potties and took a few pictures.
We then just sat down in the parking lot while the DJ spun some tunes and people danced. Last year I danced my butt off and my legs were pooped in the last few miles. This year I wanted to save my legs for a strong race! The time seemed to fly by and before we knew it we had to head to our corrals.
After 9:15 the corrals were being sent to fill up the start line. As soon as we stood up and started moving I felt like I had to pee but I was moving away from the porta-potties now. Oh no! I figured it was just nerves though and hoped the feeling would go away once I started running. At 10:00 the race kicked off with fireworks!
Tower of Terror 10 Miler Race Report
We were in Corral E and with just a few minutes between the start of each corral we were on our way shortly.
While we stood around in the corrals it felt cooler and less humid than last year. When we started running it was a different feeling as the humidity was now really noticeable!
I tried to set our pace at something that felt easy so we’d be able to start out conservatively and have plenty left in the tank to pick it up later. We were also carrying Amphipod handheld water bottles so that we could drink when we needed to and not wait for the water stops. We stuck with 5:1 run/walk intervals as that is what Neil had been training with. The course felt less crowded than at marathon weekend and it was easy to find space to run and to move to the side for walk breaks.
The first two miles went really well. Our pace was right on target and I was feeling good. Shortly after though Neil was pulling back and it sounded like he was struggling. He commented that the camber on the road was bugging him and his legs were hurting. We slowed down and I moved to the side of the road in the hopes that it would be a bit flatter for him.
I knew that the Evil Queen was ahead and given that we were supposed to be Alice and the White Rabbit I figured we for sure needed a photo with her! I ran ahead to get us a spot in line and Neil could catch up. Since I wasn’t wearing my glasses his light up bunny ears were easy to spot as he approached, but when he found me in line he was obviously in a lot of pain.
We stopped for a photo but as we continued on we needed to figure out if there was a way to fix what was going on with Neil. Stretching? More walking? Neil said he wanted to keep running because if he stopped he might fall over. Warning bells were going off in my head. We were only 3 or 4 miles in and if he was hurting this bad this early I was concerned he was going to injure himself. We ran, we ran slower and while the pain was getting worse it also wasn’t getting better. We slowed to a walk and Neil thought he could continue on at a walk…but we still had 6 miles left to go.
No race is worth hurting yourself over and I was concerned about Neil continuing. I gently let him know how far we had left to go and the thought of walking slowly, in pain for 6 miles hit him. It was still a long way to go. We were about an hour and 4.5 miles in. Just before we were supposed to turn into Wide World of Sports we spotted a med tent across the road at the 8 mile mark. Neil’s decision was made. He was going to pull over to the med tent and he told me to continue on.
I was a tangle of emotions as I ran on. I was worried about Neil. I had never contemplated that we wouldn’t be running this race together. It was such a simple goal, a simple plan. Now what? I turned off the road and was running the narrow trail into Wide World of Sports. Some of the lights were off along the trail so it was quite dark in there. I put some of my emotion into running and just worked to move past the people around me. We broke out of the trail and ran around the track and onto the sidewalks at WWOS. My legs started to feel heavy and tired. I looked down at my watch and realized I’d been running for 80 minutes and I hadn’t taken a gel the entire time. No wonder my legs were tired! I quickly ate a gel and continued on.
At the 10K mark I crossed a timing mat and I was relieved I had set up runner tracking to tweet out my splits. Neil would be able to know where I was. I was feeling incredibly guilty that Neil had stopped and that I was still running. Should I have gone to the med tent with him? In order to stay positive I needed a new goal to focus on. It wasn’t Neil’s fault that he couldn’t continue on but I still wanted to have a positive race. When we parted ways we were well off our pace for a 2 hour finish but I wanted to see if I could speed up and try to come close to this. I did take a quick stop for a photo with the Big Bad Wolf since there was no line.
Running out of WWOS my focus was now on getting to the 8 mile med tent so I could see Neil. Thank goodness for those light up bunny ears because I was able to spot those with no problems! Neil was sitting on a chair at the med tent, drinking from a big bottle of water. He told me that when he got to the med tent the colour drained from his face and he collapsed as the pain in his legs had been that bad. I had been feeling guilty for leaving him and it was now so much worse. He told me not to worry and to continue on. Since he had been sitting there he was feeling much better. I spotted the sweeper bus across the road so I think we both figured it wouldn’t be too much longer before he would get picked up. I reminded him that he wouldn’t be able to text me. Our best way to get in touch with each other would be via twitter once I got to the finish at Hollywood Studios and would be able to access park wi-fi.
Two miles left to go and a sub 2 hour finish would be pretty tight. I had really picked up the pace though, so I just kept forging on. Soon I was running through Hollywood Studios. I wasn’t paying attention to what was around me…characters…the sights…I just wanted to be done.
As is usual for Disney races I was measuring the course long. I wound up crossing the finish line at 2:02:33. Not a 2 hour finish on the race, but I measured the course at 10.24 miles so I did hit 10 miles just under 2 hours as per my watch.
As soon as I crossed the finish line I burst into tears.
I was so sad that Neil hadn’t been by my side for the race. Is that a smile or a trying not to cry but still look happy face?
I wasn’t having much luck finding out about the sweeper bus from finish line med tent staff and I had no wi-fi yet. I made my way out of the finish towards the park so I could try to get in touch with Neil. I will say that trying to tweet each other as a way to get in touch with each other is not the best of ideas.
Luckily we were able to find each other. It turns out that no one really knew when the sweeper bus would be picking them up and bringing them back to the finish. Neil got a bit frustrated and since his legs felt better he opted to just walk the remainder of the course back to the park. Once we found each other we grabbed our checked bags and got a burger from one of the open quick service dining locations. We also happened to run into Darth Vader.
After changing we wandered around the park but many of the line ups for rides were long. Just the thought of going on rides was making my stomach feel queazy. I would have loved to grab photos with more of the villains around the park but my iPhone wasn’t really cutting it. We headed out of the park around 2 am without really taking advantage of the after party.
The race definitely didn’t turn out how I had hoped but I am proud of the race I ran. After Neil and I parted ways I really picked up the pace and ran a very strong race. My legs were not tired from the 5K at all so I’m happy with how I executed both races and managed my recovery. There was a lot of guilt about leaving Neil and then running so strong but Neil and Coach Angie encouraged me to feel proud of my race. In hindsight Neil and I should have talked about a plan if we weren’t able to run together, but considering he ran the 10 miler last year on no training the thought of him not being able to finish had never crossed my mind.
And happily for Neil his legs are feeling much better. He’s happy with his decision to pull out, but he’ll be keen for redemption for next year!
F35 – 39: 341 of 1,002
Overall: 3491 of 9,473