Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tower of Terror 10-Miler Recap, Part Three

To conclude this very log-winded race recap, I want to offer my thoughts about the race from a personal perspective, as well as a list of pros and cons that may help others considering a future Twilight Zone Tower ofTerror 10-Miler race.

If you read my recap and its follow-up from the 2012 Tower 10-Miler, you know that the 2013 race carried a lot of emotional baggage, through no real fault of its own.  I wanted redemption this year, and I wanted it badly.  So, did I get it?

Yes!  Kind of.  My fantasy goal was to run this in two hours or less, but I knew with a bum hip that was highly unlikely.  My wish goal was to run it in less than two hours, fifteen minutes.  I didn’t quite make that, officially… but Disney’s timing chip and my Garmin have different ideas of how much time it took me to finish the race: my Garmin reported 2:14:48. That’s despite turning it on just before crossing the Start line, and turning it off at least 30 seconds after crossing the Finish.  So, while my official time may say otherwise, I know that I did, in fact, make my wish goal.  And I beat my base goal of sub-2:30:00 in any case.  So redemption?  Yeah, baybee!

I've had my eye on a Hollywood Tower Hotel bell for years - I got one for my work desk
to celebrate this year's race finish!

I’m so glad I opted to run this race again.  In addition to feeling like I got a second chance at running it more like I know I can, I also got a first-hand look at the changes runDisney implemented after receiving feedback last year.  More on that below, but they got an awful lot very, very RIGHT this year.  I absolutely recommend this race going forward!

That said, I have no plans to run it again next year.  I think the race itself was great, but the late start combined with my pre-race anxiety and early-to-rise schedule, plus my body’s total breakdown in the face of too little sleep, is a bad mix for me.  I don’t love the super-early start races, either, but I can at least take a nap after those and recover pretty quickly.  I also don’t want to train hard through another Florida summer.  I’m convinced that the heat takes a major toll on my body and makes me more susceptible to injury.  I look forward to scaling back both the distance and intensity next summer to give my body the break it deserves.

But for those thinking of running the 2014 Tower 10-Miler, here are my Best and Worst parts of the race this year...

  • Photo opps: Disney listened and added a TON of photo stops to the course.  I don't stop for character photos in the parks, let alone in a race, but I was glad to see they stepped it up, anyway.  
  • New corral system: Breaking up the field into more, smaller corrals really seemed to help with course congestion.  Nancy and Peter reported that they had ample room to run without much weaving in corral D.  Starting from G, I encountered some congestion, but less than last year, and MUCH less than I found starting in C for the Princess Half-Marathon this year.
  • Bag check: As with last year, dropping off my bag pre-race was quick and easy.  Unlike last year, picking it up was also a breeze this year!  Instead of going through the park and then down and back up entirely too many stairs at the Indiana Jones amphitheater, this year we passed through a backstage finish chute right into the amphitheater's floor, where a super-efficient crew retrieved our bags.  Brilliant!
  • Post-race snack box:  Okay, I'm still not a fan of the box format, but this year?  The boxes had HANDLES!!  Much easier to hang on to, along with water, a banana, a medal, etc., as we made our way through the finish chute.


  • New corral system: Yeah, I just listed this as a best, and it was... but Disney let me down by not having porta-potties in every corral, as they did last year.  I guess they really couldn't make them smaller and keep banks of potties in each, but it was a really nice feature and I was bummed to see it gone.  
  • Weather: This is beyond Disney's control, unless they change the time of year they hold this race.  But it was still a negative to me.  The weather just changed down here in FL - finally! - and I'm getting a taste of what 5-10 degrees cooler plus lower humidity does for my running experience... it's nice.  Really, really nice.  I never want to run in TOT 10-Miler conditions again.
  • Gear bag:  Disney cheaped out on gear bags this year.  They look the same - clear plastic with a nylon drawstring - but they were nowhere near as sturdy.  Peter's tore almost immediately after he got it.  Nancy's not long after.  Mine survived the race, but tore all down the side as I walked away from bag pick-up.  Fortunately, I had all of my things inside a backpack, inside the gear bag, so I just tossed the gear bag and carried on.  But it would suck to lose all of your stuff if it was loose in there.
  • Loudness: I think this is probably just my hang-up.  But the sound level of pre-race festivities did a number on me; I was battling a fierce headache by the time the race started.

I think my "bests" far outweigh my "worsts," even if I have no interest in running this one again.  Angry Running Mickey agrees.  If you ran it, what was your Best and Worst?

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