Completing My First Big Race: #runDisney Tower of Terror 10-Miler

I’m not a hardcore fitness person by any means. But one of my big goals for 2014 was to up my fitness. With that at the top of my mind, something possessed/inspired me to sign up for runDisney’s Tower of Terror 10-Miler earlier this year and convince my best friend Lisa to do so as well. And let me tell you, 10 miles – MILES (not “10k”), is a lot harder than it sounds.

Both Lisa and I have been taking spin classes for a little over 7-1/2 months and even picked up a few sessions of personal training in the weeks before our race. Adding in that cardio and strength training helped tremendously! Walking my dog a couple times a day definitely wouldn’t cut it for training.

The Tower of Terror 10-Miler took place Saturday, 10/3 and didn’t start until 10 p.m.! We started the drive from Tampa a little later than we wanted to and rushed over to ESPN Wide World of Sports (the Expo/”hub” for the race weekend) to pick up our race bibs, shirt and information with just a little spare time before the Expo closed at 3 p.m. It was pretty surprising that it closed so early with the race being so late, so if you plan to do a runDisney event in the future, be sure to pay attention to the  times!

Getting over to the race at MGM (now known as Hollywood Studios) was extremely easy but had a bit of a wait from our on-site hotel (Disney’s Pop Century), with so many other people participating lined up. Disney lined up a huge fleet of charter buses (think the ones you took on far field trips in school) to run between their hotels and the “drop off point” in the MGM parking lot.

We made it over to the kickoff location with plenty of time to spare and from there it was a waiting game. It was really cool to see so many people dressed up in costume for the race – especially big groups of people. I might consider that next time! But for this race, Lisa and I both rocked the awesome Champion shirts we received with our event registration.

As it got closer to race time, the crowd grew and I couldn’t believe how many people were participating! I tried to snap a picture, but this doesn’t even come close to showing you how crazy it was in that parking lot. I didn’t have a race time to enter since this was my first race ever so I was assigned to corral “J” – the very last one, which was a bit unfortunate. If you’re new to the whole “race” thing like I was, the faster you are (with proof of time) the higher up your starting corral and lower your bib number.

The 10-Miler required that a 16-minute mile pace was kept and being in the last corral, that left no time for delays (e.g. stops for pictures, bathroom breaks). After all, if you don’t keep up with the required pace, you get picked up and aren’t able to finish the race. The goal of the night was to not let that happen.

After what seemed like eternity, we finally started moving, and 30 minutes later our corral made it to  the official starting line! The race took place mainly on the main Disney roads, which was crazy! Of course they were shut down to cars, but as we walked up the spiral ramp, it looked like there was a zombie apocalypse happening!

We started out power walking to ease ourselves into the race and were making pretty good moves the first 10 minutes in and were so excited to be coming up onto mile marker #2.. only it turned out to be mile #1. At that point, we knew it was going to be a longggg night.

About every half mile we stumbled across a Disney villain stop (e.g. Jafar from Aladdin, hyenas from Lion King, Evil Queen/Witch from Snow White) which was so fun! We didn’t have time to stop because of the long lines for pictures and our need to stay within the pacing time, but it was nice to see and a good reminder that we were making our way through the course. Additionally, every mile had a water and Powerade pick up, where you could snag a cup while on the go.

Both Lisa and I started to feel a little sluggish toward the end. I made the huge mistake of not wearing thick enough socks (I thought my normal ones would be fine), so I felt blisters forming on the bottom of my feet early on and they were starting to hurt. Not to mention all the walking/running we weren’t used to doing started catching up to both of us and we wanted nothing more than to collapse onto the ground and not get up. But we kept trekking.

When we hit mile 8 the craziest thing happened. We ran into our high school journalism teacher who we hadn’t seen in at least 7 years! It’s a small world after all, indeed! The end of the race was through MGM and we ended up at you guessed it, Tower of Terror. And crossing that finish line was an unbelievable feeling. SUCH an accomplishment!

If you have the opportunity to participate in a runDisney race, I highly recommend it! It’s definitely challenging, but highly rewarding (I have my awesome medal to prove it). Plus, what better place to be than Disney through it all!?

Have you done a runDisney race? I’d love to hear about your experience!