Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K - Trip Report

You better grab a snack, this is one LONG post...
Crazy racer Leana....that's me. I literally hit the "Publish Post" button on Tuesday morning as I was frantically trying to finish off my race report, turned my computer off and climbed into a car to speed off to the airport for a flight to Orlando that afternoon. I'm not sure that I recommend such crazy back to back trips like that, but at least I made it down to Disney World with sneakers, Garmin and race gear in hand.
Wednesday started off with a trip to the outlet mall, lunch at Wolfgang Puck's at Downtown Disney, then hitting our first park in the afternoon. First up was Epcot. We oogled the Food & Wine Festival booths but didn't partake as we had a big dinner at the Rose & Crown in the UK Pavilion planned.
Thursday I actually got a run in. We stayed at the Saratoga Springs Resort and there was a great jogging trail around the hotel that also connected with Downtown Disney. I got 4 miles in. My legs were tired and the heat and humidity got to me a bit, but it felt great to see some new scenery on the run. That day we wandered around Epcot, eating and drinking at the F&W booths, plus we got a couple of rides in. That evening we hit Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party where I was able to clean up at the trick or treat locations and relive all those years that I missed out on trick or treating growing up. FYI - my formative years were spent in England and South America and unfortunately trick or treating didn't happen there at Halloween. So much candy that I missed out on as a kid... At least I got to make up for it at the Magic Kingdom on Thursday night. As another aside, the absolute best time to hit the rides at the Magic Kingdom is during the Halloween party - very minimal lines!
It was race packet pick up day at Downtown Disney on Friday. The doors were supposed to open at 3 pm and there was a huge line of people all ready and raring to get their race packets. I looked up my bib number - number 11! Whoa...how early on did I register for this thing? I didn't realize I was such a keener. I signed my waiver, got my packet (but no chip since I was using my own), then went to grab my t-shirt. I'm not sure why I was under the impression that we'd get a tech shirt (and there were notes about it glowing in the dark), but that wasn't the case. It was a regular gray cotton tee with the race logo on it, but nothing that mentioned the year or "inaugural." Kind of disappointing on the race shirt front. They did have some race merchandise - a ladies' and men's tech shirt, a fleece top, coffee mug or picture frame - but the cash registers weren't up and running yet so all you could do was pick up the special, limited edition pins if you had pre-ordered them. We grabbed out stuff and headed back out to Epcot where we met up with my cousin and her hubs for dinner. We talked race strategy - which is to say - how do you prepare for a night time race? Morning races are easy - get up, have some toast and get going. With a night time race you have all day to screw up your nutrition plan, and when is the best time to eat? We never really came up with anything concrete, but it was great to catch up.
Saturday....race day! Of all days my nutrition really went out the window. We spent the morning at Animal Kingdom and by noon my stomach was rumbling. At the first rumble I spotted an ice cream cart. I figured an ice cream sandwich this early in the day wouldn't hurt anything. After that I was a bit thirsty and the next cart was selling frozen lemonade. Seriously....that's not a drink....but I went with it anyways. We left the park for a late lunch/early pasta dinner at Downtown Disney. It was then back to the hotel where I got my race gear ready and changed. My parents wanted to relax before heading out to MGM Studios, but not one to sit on my behind while on vacation, I hopped a bus to MGM. It was pouring out...what was I thinking? In all honesty, heading to MGM early was probably my best decision I made all day. I bummed around the park for a bit and the rain let up so that their nightly fireworks and laser show Fantasmic was on for 7:30 pm. Road closures were set to start at 8:30 pm so everyone was asked to be at the start line by then, so I figured I could watch the show and lazily stroll to the start line afterwards. My cousin calls at 7:15ish to let me know they'll be heading to MGM shortly so I assume I'll run into them as soon as Fantasmic is over, but there is no sign of them or my parents. Apparently the traffic getting into the park was atrocious as everyone else was attempting to leave the park as it closed. It was taking an hour for folks to drive 2 miles. Because of all of the issues that folks had getting to the start of the race the 9:30 pm start time was pushed back about 20 min to give everyone a chance to arrive. We finally all managed to find each other at the start line and we were raring to go. Fellow blogging buddy Moon found me and said hello and we chatted for a few minutes, along with another online friend Susie who had also run the NWM 1/2 but we missed meeting then. They sang the national anthem, fireworks went off and it was time to start...
There was no choraling or self seeding on this race. If you were running the 13K you started first, then the 6.5K folks started 5 minutes later. That made for a very congested start. We began in the Television parking lot and the start line was just after you crossed through the entrance/pay booths for MGM Studios. Very cool. Out on to the highway it was... There was no getting in a groove as large groups of folks were walking side by side making for lots of weaving in and out. It seemed that anytime you wanted to give someone a heads up that you were passing them they were wearing earphones and couldn't hear you. I went out with no expectations given that I'd just run a rockin' half marathon the weekend before. I will say my disastrous nutrition the day of the race probably didn't do me any favours, and I also made the mistake of not taking any Sport Beans along with me. I figured it was an 8.3 mile run and I wouldn't need them, but in hindsight a pack before starting probably would have been a good idea. I have three words for what I felt at this race - holy humidity Batman. I can do hills, but humidity and I aren't friends since Calgary is always at practically 0% on the humidex. I just felt...ugh... There were four or five water stops along this course and only the final stop had Powerade. By that point in time I don't see the point of Powerade, and I don't really understand why Disney didn't just have Powerade all the way along the course. We ran along the highway, then turned on to a gravel road near Wide World of Sports and here things started to get a little weird. There were tons of volunteers all dressed in white like they were from an insane asylum (I'm trying to think of a more PC word than that, but it fails me right now). I guess this was Disney's way of spicing up the boring section through WWoS, but I wasn't sure that I found it entertaining or not. Maybe they were just supposed to be from the Twilight Zone... We ran a couple of miles around WWoS and then it was back out on to the roads. At mile 6 we were back at MGM Studios to finish the rest of the race out by running around the park. I loved running through the park - up to the Sorceror's Hat, through New York Street and the Extreme Stunt Show stage...this was the best part. By this point in time I was hoping to come in under 90 min...

Chip Time: 1:29:07
Overall: 1236 out of 2590
Female overall: 566 out of 1522
Female 25-29: 109 out of 251
My dad had already finished his 6.5K race and he snapped a couple of pics as I crossed the finish line. I got my very cool medal (sorry, not pic to post yet) and my post race snacks (a bottle of water, Powerade, a banana, and an Oreo brownie). My dad was waiting for my mom to finish, and my cousin and her friend were walking the course so her hubs and I decided to hit the rides. After riding the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster it was time to meet up with cousin and friend at the Great Movie Ride. I scarfed my brownie down before getting on the ride and I think this was a big mistake... As we start out on the ride I start to feel a bit nauseous. Let it be said that the Great Movie Ride is probably one of the slowest moving rides in all of the theme parks. I kept thinking that no one has probably been ill on the Great Movie Ride before and I might be the first... Luckily I made it off the ride without incident but that was the end of my night at the post-race party at MGM Studios as riding the Tower of Terror might not have been the best idea.
Sunday was a morning to sleep in and then it was back to Epcot for more F&W adventures. I had no idea that going to Walt Disney World could be such a boozy vacation but there was great champagne, wine from Chile, Argentina and California, and some terrific beer from Germany (Beck's Octoberfest and Sam Adams 12 Annual Seasonal)....wow. After snacking our way around F&W it was time for dinner at the German restaurant where we celebrated Octoberfest and ate copious amounts of schnitzel and different types of wurst. Yummy. Monday we had a few hours to kill before our plane left so we hit MGM and I finally got that ride in on the Tower of Terror. Then it was back home around midnight last night. After all that eating I am itching to get back on the running bandwagon again although my legs are still a little tired. I'm going to aim to get a couple of slow midweek runs in this week, then Saturday night is my Winterstart 5 mile night time race. Two night time races in a row....here's hoping I plan a bit better for this second one. Sunday I'm into uncharted territory....15 miles....my longest run to date.


Maddy said...

It sounds like a great trip to F-L-A and an awesome race! I was wishing by Saturday night that I had registered for the race afterall.

You will have a great 15 miler! After your half marathon, you're ready to bump up the distance for sure!

Congrats on a well run race and a great time!

Amanda said...

You are a crazy racer! I"m still trying to run over 6 miles after san fran and her you are racing, very admirable!

Your trip sounds aweseome!!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Did I do a Rip Van Winkle and miss a few weeks? You’re racing again? Okay Speed Racer Gal, slow your roll and don’t get hurt. Sound like it was fun, which is the most important thing.

No Wetsuit Girl said...

That sounds soooooooooooooo cool! A race, at night, in DISNEY WORLD! I'm so jealous of all the traveling you get to do, but this is definitely the coolest trip so far.

Trick or treaters are wandering around outside my house right now while I'm suffering from a candy hangover (too many Milky Ways in the break room). I'm not sure that adulthood is the right time to catch up on Halloween candy, but again, TRICK OR TREATING IN DISNEY WORLD, COOOOOOOOL! Just as long as you don't overdose on sugar before your race (*ehem!*).

No, really, I'm jealous.

N said...