The 2012 Tower of Terror 10 Miler…A Warm Night in WDW

The weekend after the Fifth Avenue Mile, I participated in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler within Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I love to head down to WDW, because being immersed in the amazing enginuity of the Disney brand stimulates my own inner creativity. 

I visited the race expo Friday afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of vendors promoting their running attire, shoes, gadgets (God how I love running gadgets!), charities and other marathons being run throughout the country.  After I picked up my race swag (as Fred Lebow once said – runners will do anything for a t-shirt), I got to listen to Jeff Galloway speak for a bit on pacing and pre-race preparation.  Then I headed out to the theme parks to meet up with a bunch of awesome teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team. 

After attending a Friday evening event at the American Pavillion of EPCOT which included an homage to the late great Adventurers Club as well as time spent with a group of wonderful people, I watched Illuminations from the Italy pavillion before calling it a night.

Saturday was spent relaxing and touring some theme parks – exactly what a person does NOT want to do the day of a 10pm 10-miler in heat and humidity.  The temperatures circled around the 85-90 degree range during the day, and dropped to a brisk 81 by the time the 10pm race began. 

The race itself was – to be rather blunt – lackluster.  I guess I expected more from Disney than I received.  The course was well lit – but we spent approximately 9-10 miles of the race (and that’s a conservative estimate) was spent on quiet roadways with virtually no spectator support or any other form of visual stimulation.  Now I know what you’re thinking: Joe, it’s a race.  It’s a 10-miler.  You  should treat it as a race and simply run it to finish in the best time that you can.  While I do run all other races in this fashion, Disney races are different.  I run them for the experiences.  For the sights and sounds.  To see what’s coming around the next corner – what does Disney have in store for us?  I never run Disney races for a PR (Personal Record).

I ran with a group of fantastic teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team, we took it slow and steady, and ran through the humidity to the finish line alongside the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The walk from the finish line to baggage claim was long and congested – and that did not help people’s moods as they wandered through the park a collective bunch of sweaty messes.  By the time I returned to my hotel room, it was after 2:30am on Sunday morning.  I had planned to enjoy the post-race party…but was too fried from the heat and humidity to go on a ride or two after the 10-mile trek.

Would I do this race again? Maybe.  However, there are several items that need to be addressed:

1) Please make the course entertaining…..or drop the entry fee.  You’re Disney – we expect a higher level of quality from you.  Sorry…but that’s the cost of being the best entertainment company in the world.

2) Running on loose gravel at 11pm 6 miles into a 10 mile race didn’t go over very well will many runners.  I didn’t mind it – but I heard the complaints as we shuffled through this unpaved area of the course. 

3) Given the high humidity and heat, at least one additional water stop should have been added. 

4) Don’t make the runners walk across the theme park to pick up their baggage post-race.   

These aren’t big-time issues.  Night races at Disney are not easy to pull off.  I can understand the inherent complexity.  Just fix the glitches and this one could be decent next year.

Next up for me: the 2012 Chicago Maratahon…where cooler temperatures, less humidity and 16.2 additional miles await. 


T – Minus 10 and Counting…

So I made the decision to run a marathon a month in 2012 to raise awareness and funding for the Dream Team Project, and I went public with it on Lou Mongello’s podcast a couple of weeks ago…so there’s no backing out now!

My year of insanity begins a week from Sunday, down in Walt Disney World, where I am all set to run the marathon on January 8th.  This will be my 4th Walt Disney World Marathon, and it’s an event that I believe gets better each and every year.  Yes, my day will begin at 3am – and yes, a majority of the mileage I’ll log will be along WDW’s roadways with little overall ambiance – and yes, I’ll be really tired afterward…so much so that I’ll probably doze off while I ride Tower of Terror later on in the day.  HOWEVER, Walt Disney World is one of my favorite places to spend my time.  Being able to say that I visited – on foot – all four theme parks before lunchtime is a pretty cool statement! 

Training has been lackluster lately, to say the least.  A combination of travel for work and my usual bout with utter laziness has resulted in me feeling not quite 100% for the upcoming challenge.  Bottom line: I’m nervous.  I want to kick this year-long marathon of marathons with a really solid performance…I just hope that the work I’ve done up to this point is enough to get me through.

I’m planning to put in some serious work over the weekend.  Of course, this is supposed to be the time where I tone down my workouts in preparation for the big day.  However, I am…..well…..not-very-smart.  I am looking at this weekend as me cramming for a final exam in high school.  (Crap – I was a solid D- student…so you can see just how well cramming worked out for me in the past…)

I feel the need to “cram” for this “running exam” because lately I’ve felt like The Tool has returned, and has perched himself once more on my left shoulder whispering sweet stupidity into my ear as I slog around the Central Park outer loop.  For those of you who don’t know who I am referring to when I mention “The Tool”, I’ll re-post my earlier writing later on today to provide the necessary detail.  Here’s the Crib Notes version: The Tool is the imaginary 3” tall little annoying, distracting, negative schmuck that reminds me of my weaknesses and lack of talent.  He’s the virtual embodiment of my self-doubt.  Only this time, he appears to have come out of hibernation stronger and more effective since my last encounter with the tiny turd.  It’s almost as if he visited Balco and started juicing negativity steroids.  (Oh yeah – I just made a Balco reference – never thought I’d get to do that….I feel somewhat cooler now…).  I think I’ll call this tiny putz “Tool 2.0”.

Something tells me this is going to be a loooooong 12 months……