For years Disney ran the Tower of Terror 13k, but 2009 was the last year for that race. This year they brought it back as a 10 miler. I was giddy with excitement from the moment we registered.
Picking up where I left off…
We loaded our bus and quickly my nerves took over. I wanted my mommy.
Once we arrive to the parking lot of Hollywood Studios, which doubled as the waiting/starting area, my nerves settled down again. It was a huge dance party with 10,500 of my closest Run Disney friends. We even did the Carlton – Fresh Prince, anyone?
It was a warm 84 degrees at 10:30pm and humidity was close to 100%. I was a hot sweaty mess just waiting in our corral. Soon it was go time. The music was pumping, the MC’s were fun and encouraging, and the fireworks flared to signal the start of each corral. It was a magical send off.
We headed towards the highway and I was feeling really good. The first mile was a breeze, but the climb to the highway was a tricky one – going up an on ramp, on an incline. This didn’t make my ankle feel to good, but we pushed on.
Mile two came and went. Mile three I started to slow down. By mile 4 I was starting to doubt everything. I was in a lot of pain. My side/stomach was cramping and my hand was swelling. I had never had my hand swell before, but it was happening to a lot of other racers too. Paramedics on bicycles were giving people tips and tricks to keep the swelling down.
At this point I was struggling to keep a 15 minute pace and was feeling so defeated. We were at the half way point, I could see the signs for mile 5, but I wanted to give up. Alex wouldn’t let me. He talked me through every step, every mile, and up every bridge.
We cried, laughed, and encouraged other that were struggling – there were a lot who were struggling. The heat and humidity were so bad that people were throwing up on the side of the road. Thankfully, Alex and I were not effected like that but it was heartbreaking to see happen to other racers.
I never felt so many emotions in one time span. Nervous, excited, happy, sad, scared, and disappointed. It was a rush! Honestly, despite my struggles to this point the miles seemed to pass rather quickly.
My one fear all along was getting swept. When I decided to give up I forgot to think how upset I would be if I didn’t finish. More so, I didn’t think how disappointed Alex would be. When that realization set in I was a bucket of tears again and it was time to kick it in to gear.
Mile 6 was off-road and down a gravel path which proved a little tricky to navigate in the night. Mentally I was preparing myself for what was about to happen. The RunDisney volunteers were cheering and officials were reminding everyone how far behind the pace we all were.
Mile 7 was as far as we went. A bunch of us joked that we would link arms and keep on going, but race officials made note of our numbers and told us we needed to board the bus. We all fell so far behind pace that they could not let us go any further. I buried my face in Alex’s chest and cried out all the feelings I had been feeling throughout the night. I was devastated that I didn’t finish, and I was crushed that I let Alex down.
Countless people had been pulled off the course before us, but the 40 or so of us that boarded the bus at mile 7 were the last to get pulled off.
It was an emotional ride back to Hollywood Studios and I wasn’t ready to face my failures. The official on board was perky and sweet – I wanted to punch her in the face! Not joking.
We were informed that because we made it to mile 7, Disney’s “Magic Mile” for this race, we would all receive the race medal.
I got off the bus, took my medal from the volunteer that greeted us, and made my was through the finishers tent. I didn’t even want to put on the medal, or take the official pictures (not to mention the picture line was crazy long!).
Alex tried to reassure me that we had done the best we could and I should be proud for taking the risk. I was in tears again, and they were not the happy tears shed by many of the other runners.
We found Alex’s parents and they comforted me while sympathizing at the same time. They were proud of our efforts and accomplishments.
It was well after midnight, we were tired and starving. Bacon cheeseburgers and a beer were all I could focus on. Once we settled down and my stomach was content I was able to see the bright side of things and reflect on lessons learned.
It was a long, emotional night. Looking back I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I wouldn’t have done with anyone else by my side. Alex was a blessing because I know I wasn’t strong enough to make it that far without him.
We posted pictures of us with our medals on Facebook and sent them to family, just commenting on the fact that we got our medals – we got what we came for. It’s still hard for me to swallow that we didn’t cross the finish line.
Posts still to come:
– Lessons, Emotions, and What’s Next
– Dear Alex
– Week 1 of Whole30 / October Unprocessed
And I will leave you with the last few pictures from Race night.