Yes, I am still writing blog posts from races I ran 3 months ago! Better late than never, right? It certainly could’ve been worse.
Two weeks after racing Ragnar Napa Valley, Matt and I headed to Orlando to meet up with my mom and run the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. (I’d include a link to the website BUT RunDisney has done away with the race! Considering I had originally registered to run the race in 2013 but had to postpone to 2014 after starting a new job, I’m glad I hadn’t tried to push my registration back again.)
One of the reasons we’d registered for Tower of Terror was my mom wanted to go to the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT and run a race at the same time. Previous experience has taught me it’s much more fun to do the race at the start of the trip and then enjoy the festival after the race is over, which means that since they’ve moved the Wine & Dine Half Marathon to the last weekend of the festival, you can’t use that strategy and run that race.
Going into the race, since we’d just run Ragnar and knew we had a half marathon the following weekend, the plan was to run an easy 10 miles and use the race as a training run. We also wanted to have a little fun, so we decided to dress up as my favorite Disney couple: Ariel & Eric.
After three evening races at Disney World, we’ve learned a few things about how to prepare: we ate an easy-to-digest pasta dinner in the hotel room that wasn’t too big a few hours before leaving, we made sure to have a change of clothes and shoes with an extra bag that we left at gear check, and we brought a few snacks to eat prior to starting since you spend a good chunk of time waiting at the start line. Fortunately we were able to keep ourselves well-entertained by checking out all of the costumes people we wearing, and it didn’t take too long before our corral was being moved from the staging area to the start line (I think it was probably a good .5-1 mile walk).
While I’d been assigned to Corral C, Matt was running under someone else’s name…and thankfully she had been assigned to Corral D since RunDisney no longer allows you to change your corral placement at the expo! The start line was located in the parking lot at Hollywood Studios and the course took you down to the Oceola Parkway, where you made a loop in front of the Animal Kingdom parking lot before heading back down in the opposite direction, past Hollywood Studios to the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There, you entered the complex from a side trail (decorated to look spooky and ghost-like), coming up to run a lap around the track, over to the baseball stadium (home of spring training for the Atlanta Braves) for a lap around the warning track, before heading back out on the main road. This met back up with the Oceola Parkway, which takes you back to the Hollywood Studios turnoff for a loop through the park before finishing at the base of the Tower of Terror.
Starting the race I had every intention of taking it easy, and we did. We settled into a solid pace, though in typical Amanda & Matt fashion, our miles slowly started speeding up. We had brought the camera along with us to take photos, but we never saw any characters we were super excited to get our photo taken with…so instead of stopping, we just kept running.
My 10 miler PR was set several years ago when I ran my second Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 1:29:58. I figured I’d be running this race around 1:35, so when Matt mentioned that if we picked up the pace just about 15 seconds or so per mile on the last 2 miles we could hit a new PR, I was excited. My legs were feeling surprisingly amazing, and up until that point, I didn’t feel like I’d been working hard at all. So I thought, why not try? A solid effort at the end of the run wouldn’t do too much damage to my legs before the next weekend…and my training runs typically end with some kind of increased effort, anyway.
So we pushed it a little bit. Mile 9 was just a little bit faster, but as we came flying into Hollywood Studios and were FINALLY surrounded by spectators cheering us on, my legs got caught up in the excitement of the finish line…and I found myself pushing harder than I really should have. At that point, we were less than 1/3 of a mile from the finish, and I wasn’t about to give up or slow down. Call it my competitive side, if you will.
So we gave it a solid push heading into the finish line…and crossed the timing mat in 1:29:01 – an unintentional PR for the race!
After receiving our medals, Gatorade, and snack boxes, we started heading out to pick up our gear from bag check. But I am not kidding when I tell you that it was probably another mile until we reached it! Between the walking prior to the start and after the race, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was closer to a half marathon distance. And just when you thought you’d be getting close, it kept going. Eventually we ended up on the set of the Indian Jones stun show to pick up our bags, which was actually pretty cool!
We’d brought clothes and shoes to change into, so we headed straight for the bathroom to freshen up…which was especially important because it got much chillier during the evening than we had anticipated! Matt also said farewell to what were quite possibly the most disgusting running shoes on the planet (thanks to sweaty runs through dusty vineyard paths) before we were off to celebrate.
One reason we were so excited to finish so early was so we could ride all of the rides we wanted to before the lines got long, so we booked it over to the Pixar area to ride Midway Mania (the Toy Story ride). However, the ride ended up being shut down the entire time! Instead, we went back over to the finish area to ride Rock’n Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror before grabbing some margaritas.
We’d been waiting for the text update on my mom so we could watch her finish, but unfortunately the text was delayed and we missed her! We did, however, make sure she had margarita once she was out of the crazy long finish area (that’s what really matters, right?).
We eventually got my mom to ride the Tower of Terror (she hates that ride) before calling it a night. The after-party wasn’t very cool, particularly with Midway Mania being shut down and only a few rides actually open (which meant the lines were really long). There weren’t many good food options available, either, so we decided to head back to our room. I have to say that after experiencing the Wine and Dine after party, which features both food/drinks and rides at EPCOT, I have been pretty disappointed by the others we’ve been to following night races. I’m definitely glad we hadn’t actually paid to get in!
Final stats from the final Tower of Terror 10 Miler:
AG finish: 30 out of 1,150
Female finish: 168 out of 6,146
Overall finish: 595 out of 9,387
Not too shabby for a race I was taking easy!
Before wrapping up this post, I must also include how exciting it was to get to meet one of my readers, Kate, during the weekend!
We have emailed back and forth several times now, and it was so amazing to get to meet her in person! When I started blogging, I chose to do so because I needed an outlet – a way to handle a pretty serious running injury. It morphed into the outlet I needed to help me get through my doctorate work, and now it has become a way for me to share my journey and connect with people all over the world. When I wrote my first post, I never anticipated how much my blog would impact my life. But more importantly, I never dreamed it would be able to impact the lives of other people. Getting to meet Kate and talk to her and her husband, I was moved (almost to tears) hearing how the words I write help others reach for their own goals and make their dreams a reality. I can tell you that without a doubt, the two times we were able to talk during the trip far surpassed my unexpected PR…they were truly the highlight of my vacation.
With that in mind, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my journey with all of you. Hearing from you and learning about your journeys is seriously one of my favorite aspects of writing a blog. The running community is a pretty amazing one, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.
Your Turn: What was your favorite part of your last vacation? Thoughts on RunDisney discontinuing the Tower of Terror 10 Miler?