Let me start off with – I am not a runner. Really. Not even remotely. Until I did a 5K last year, this 40+-year-old body had not run since junior high track. Well, maybe high school gym class, but I hated it. I have no idea what made me say, “Hey! 10 miles! That sounds like fun. Let’s sign up for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.” Well, I do know what made me do it. My friends were all doing it. I guess that’s a good kind of peer pressure.
Let me also say that I had the best of intentions and it started off well. I started doing the Couch Potato to 5K training program. I also read what Jeff Galloway advised at runDisney.com and did what I could. I even signed up to do a 5K a few months before to get my confidence up. Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, I did very little training in the couple months prior to the race.
Needless to say, come race weekend, I was nervous. Really nervous. Fortunately, I was staying with friends and meeting up with even more friends all of whom were also doing the race and who were more experienced than I. They helped make sure I was drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated even the day before the race as well as told me what to eat.
The night of the race, I put on my costume and went to the starting line. At this point, nervous probably wasn’t a strong enough word. I think “terror” was an apt description. Fortunately, I had met up with another friend who was also doing her first long-distance race without much training. I knew we’d make a great team if for nothing else than moral support.
The race finally started and I was simply taking the race one mile marker at a time. Actually, it was more fun taking it one character at a time. Seeing Jack Skellington, Jafar, and other villains along the way was great for keeping up my morale. My friend and I walked quickly most of the way, jogging when we could, especially when we were going downhill. We weren’t the fastest racers, but we were keeping on pace.
Around mile 6, it got hard. By mile 8, I wasn’t sure I could keep going, especially when I started seeing the dreaded balloons that the pacers carry. Fortunately, by going with a friend, I wanted to keep going simply so I wouldn’t let her down so I just kept putting one step in front of the other. I also made sure I drank Gatorade at every opportunity even though I didn’t feel thirsty. At mile 9, my spirits lifted. Just one more mile to go! At this point, we’d entered Hollywood Studios so I could see that I was on the home stretch. There were also lots of photographers and there was just something that made me want to smile for the camera. Maybe I was delirious!!
Then I saw it. The finish line!!! I made it! There is no describing the feeling to someone who has never done it before. It’s amazing. I was so proud of myself. I never thought I would be able to walk/run 10 miles, but I did.
Now I’m hooked. I haven’t done anything as long as that race, but I completed Expedition Everest Challenge this past May and have signed up for the Avengers Super Heroes 5K in November and both the Star Wars 5K and Star Wars 10K in January.
For all you non-runners out there, you can do this!!! These races are actually fun! If you are healthy enough for the exercise, try it (although preferably with more training than I did). I am living proof that a relatively out-of-shape, 40-something woman who hates to run can not only make it 10 miles on pace, but can have fun doing it.
Good luck to all of the 2014 Tower of Terror racers and to my friends who are running it, I will be with you in spirit!
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