Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tower of Terror 10 miler - Part 1

So, here is my review of the Tower of Terror 10 miler.  This was my first RunDisney event, my first racecation, and my longest race to date.  Before this, I had done a 10k, an 8k and a bunch of 5k races.  So lots of firsts here for me and therefore this will end up being kind of a long post, broken into 2 parts. I also have a separate post from last week about the expo.

For those of you not familiar with this race, it is generally the first weekend of October and it is a night time 10 mile race.  It's Halloween themed so it has spooky elements and the characters are villains to go along with the theme.  The price of the race includes an after party at Disney's Hollywood Studio but any non-runners have to buy a ticket if they want to attend the after party or even see runner friends finish.

I'm going to start talking about my day before the race since I was concerned about fueling properly for a night race.  We had a big brunch around 11am at Ohana.  This included fruit, eggs, waffles, bacon, sausage, cinnamon bread and pineapple bread as well as juice and coffee. It was all you can eat, which was a plus. I made sure to eat a substantial amount but not so much that I felt uncomfortable.  An added benefit was that this was a character meal with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto and Mickey. The only downside was that we had to wait a very long time to be seated even the we had reservations.

We then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the pool at our hotel (the Swan) and napping.  I tried to think of a light meal for dinner that would be enough fuel but that wouldn't lead to GI issues.  A lot of the veggie options were fatty but there was a sushi restaurant at the Swan.  So I went down as soon as it opened, around 5:30, and had a couple veggie sushi rolls. There were several other runners there as well.  This approach to meals worked out pretty well for me for a race that started at 10 pm. After eating, I went back to the room to get ready and left at 7:45 to head to the race.

Hotel room photo of my Vanellope running costume (she's from Wreck It Ralph)

Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness was also staying at the Swan and we had decided to walk over to the race together.  One of the main reasons I chose to stay at the Swan was that we could walk to Hollywood Studios and the race start. It was about a 10-15 minute walk. And I was overwhelmed as soon as we got to the start!  I knew it was a large race and that more than 11,000 people were registered based on bib numbers but I don't think I really understood what that meant! My largest race before this was probably around 2,500 people. I was thankful for Meranda's company since I would probably have stood around looking lost otherwise!

Tower of Terror in the background during our walk to the starting area of the race

There was music and a DJ and a very festive atmosphere with lots of people in fun costumes.  I later heard there were some photo ops but I didn't see them. We met up with some friends of Meranda's for a bit and then decided to get in line for the port-a-potties.  The lines were already pretty long but someone came by and told us there were other ones in the runner area where you could only go if you have bibs.  So we went over there and there was no line at all! So definitely go for those if possible. They were also really nice with plenty of tp and a hand washing station outside. Meranda and I chatted a bit, I had a granola bar, and then headed over to my corral a little bit after 9pm.  The corrals went from A (first corral) to J (last corral) and I was in H. My corral was already more than half full by the time I got there.

I chatted with a couple people in the corral for a while, which helped with my nerves.  Everyone was really nice and it was easy to find random people to talk to. Pretty soon, we started to move. The A corral was led out first, then B and so on.  There was what felt like a really long walk to the start line.  There was music and announcers at the start line and a very lively atmosphere.  Things moved quickly at this point. Each corral went off with fireworks and fan fare and corral H was off around 10:20.

So,how did I do? It took me 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish.

I was not too happy with this at first. I should have finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes based on my estimated finish from my earlier 10k race.  I did my 10 mile training run in 2 hours and 18 minutes. I did my 11 mile training run in 2 hours and 28 minutes this past weekend. But I realized I stopped to take a lot of photos on my phone so of course my time was slow.  I also had a hard time with the crowds.  There was a lot of weaving and some places where it was too crowded to do anything but walk. I was doing my usual 4 minute run and 1 minute walk intervals but this resulted in extra walking.  Lastly, I got really caught up in the excitement of the race, went out too quickly, and forgot to fuel :( I had an extra granola bar and three mini packs of raisins in my flip belt but just forgot to eat them! I had nuun in my bottle initially but then just drank water.  I didn't want to try the powerade on the course since I had never tried it before.

So this all resulted in me not feeling too good after the race ended.  The soles of my feet really hurt, probably from all the extra walking the day before, and I just wanted to leave.  So I didn't really get to experience the after party.  I did feel much better about the race the next morning. My main goal was just to finish and have a good time, which I did do for most of the race. And I learned some important lessons for my upcoming half marathon. I'm glad I did Tower of Terror first so I got to experience a large race and learn my reactions. I definitely think that will help the half marathon go smoother.

At least I felt well enough for a post-race photo with my medal

That's it for now.  The next post will be less about my experience and more about the course, the entertainment, logistics, and the after party from Mikes point of view.