Race Review: 2014 Walt Disney World 10K (1/10/2014), or: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy…”

logoThe 2014 Walt Disney World 10K was a pretty exciting race for a host of reasons. For starters it was an inaugural race, which, for Run Disney Obsessives (RDOs) everywhere, means that anyone running it would be counted among the very first to ever brave a brand-new course. This also meant that you were in on the ground floor to be a “Perfect” runner for that event; “Perfect” meaning you were set up to run it every year consecutively since its inception. There’s bragging rights in there somewhere. If you’re into that sort of thing…

The 10K was also the second event in the inaugural (there’s that word again; there’s a payoff here, stay with me) Dopey Challenge, a four-day, four-race, 48.6 mile challenge which provided RDOs the opportunity to collect six medals and snare inimitable bragging rights. I wasn’t doing that particular challenge. I had “run” the Disney 5K Family Fun Run the day before and would complete the Walt Disney World Half Marathon the next day, but I was skipping the Marathon two days later. I would regret that decision, but I was (and am) perfectly fine with my paltry 22.4 mile tally.

But there was one thing I was certainly assured of: I was going to run this race. I was going to try and achieve a really great time and pace. I was going to go all-out and give it my all, push myself, go at it with speed and intensity, etc. I knew a PR was impossible (PR’s generally are at Disney races, unless you’re an elite runner or a first-timer) but I wanted to run strong and hard.

Boy was that a mistake…

"I don't HAVE to do this in every picture... but it don't hurt!"

“I don’t HAVE to do this in every picture… but it don’t hurt!”

Let’s dial it back a bit. The previous day, after running the 5K, Boots and I returned to the Wilderness Lodge, showered, changed, and headed out to Hollywood Studios to take advantage of our FastPass+ reservations. That’s right, we had absolutely no wait-times whatsoever on the Big 3 attractions: Rock-n-Rollercoaster, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Midway Mania. Paradise. Afterward we hit the Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports to pick up my bibs and shirts for the 10K and Half. Thankfully crowds were extremely light. The registration area was pretty much empty, and the expo itself was nowhere near as insanely crowded as it was when we went last year (or, even worse, during the mishegas of the Disneyland Half weekend last August). Even the merchandise selection was pretty well-stocked and diverse. I ended up buying two Donald/Half-Marathon tech shirts and a race weekend cotton tee, plus a Run Disney Vinylmation and “I Did It” pin. By RDO standards, I was positively restrained in my spending habits.





... and Swag.

… and Swag.

At this point it was late afternoon, so we headed back to the Lodge and grabbed an early dinner at the Artist’s Point food court and relaxed the rest of the evening. I popped a Xanax around 7PM, hoping to be asleep by 8 and up the next morning at 3AM (I had only gotten five hours of sleep the night before, and wanted to do better this night). I crashed at 8… and was promptly up again at 9:15. And I stayed up until almost midnight. Hooray for the Natural Insomniac!

Nonetheless, by the time my phone chirped out its wakey-wakey chimey rhythms the next morning, I didn’t feel too exhausted. The excitement was as thick and palpable as the omnipresent humidity outside. While the previous day’s 5K weather was drizzly and overcast but cool, this day’s weather was everything but the latter. Not obliteratingly hot-humid like it was during the 2012 Tower of Terror 10-Miler, thankfully, but muggy enough to feel very familiar to this South Florida kid. Still, no big whoop. I took a lesson from my previous Disney 10K and made sure I was more than properly hydrated for the event; I didn’t want to end up by Mile 4 parched, dry-mouthed, and woozy again.

We left the Lodge at 3:45 and made it to Epcot in no time at all, really. I still enjoy driving rather than taking the buses, but that’s just me. Our goal was to be at the DJ booth by 4:15, where we’d meet our gang (Rosa, Kristi, and Ines). Passing by the Start Line, Boots decided to do a repeat of the previous day’s picture, and I think this one came out rather smashingly:

"What a punim!"

“What a punim!”

It was also right around this time when I noticed that Quality Control took a holiday when it came to the 10K bibs. This particular spelling gaffe stood out ever-so-ungracefully, especially to an English major like myself. See if you can spot it here (even with the lens fuzziness):



We got to the DJ Booth, where we saw Kristi waiting. Eventually Ines joined us and we decided to hang for a spell around there. I was hoping to meet up with my buddy Sarah from Sparkly Runner — you remember her as the Hokeyblog fan who recognized me back during the 2013 Disneyland Half — but she wasn’t able to make it in time before being herded to her corral. Would we end up having a blogger reunion of sorts or would all our efforts be in vain? Stay tuned, dear readers! (SPOILER ALERT: Yeah we would, two days later…)

In the meantime we grabbed some more pics, starting with us runners:

Forgive them for wearing Race Shirts on Race Day.

Forgive them for wearing Race Shirts on Race Day.

… then the Start Line:


… then the Mistress of Ceremonies herself:


… and finally the inspiration to about a zillion RDOs everywhere (and whose training plans got me through my first Half Marathon), Jeff Galloway:

The Man!

The Man!

There was also a group of runners impressively costumed up as various Toy Story characters right near us. I wish we had taken a pic of them, but they were surrounded by enchanted onlookers. Oh well.

Finally it was corral time. I was in C, while Kristi and Ines were in a later group. They were taking it easy as to not wear themselves out for their remaining Dopey races, and I made the tactical decision to go all-out, so I decided to run solo. I wished them goodbye and good luck, and mingled in with the Corral C peeps. When the Moment of Silence came, I bent my ear to see if I could hear Ines guffawing somewhere in the distance. No such luck. I think she learned her lesson this time around. Hopefully. Soon the National Anthem came, then the disabled runners took off to much fanfare and fireworks, followed by the elite runners in Group A. Group B came a few minutes afterward, but by my count there was still a 20-minute delay between B and C. I would imagine that many of those 7,000 runners doing the Dopey were taking it slower as well, which probably meant slightly longer delays between corrals. I got a little restless and ended up taking this rather smug looking Start Line Selfie:

El Smuggo Magnifico!

El Smuggo Magnifico!

Finally our time had come. Corral C was called to the Start Line, Minnie gave us the go-ahead to get running, and our 10K begun in earnest. I started the music on my cellphone, mentally steeled myself, and took off from the Start Line at a lightning-strong pace…

…or at least I wanted to. *sigh*

Here’s a look at the 10K course, as always courtesy of Garmin and Google:


The first mile took us north out of the parking lot and then westbound down Epcot Center Drive. It was pretty much impossible for me to hit my race pace. There were simply too many walkers and light joggers. I had a choice of either cutting my pace or zig-zagging around slower runners, but ended up doing both out of the gate. I wasn’t slowing down or stopping for pics or photo ops; I really wanted to run this race hard, but it simply wasn’t happening, at least not at the pace I wanted.

I found myself getting frustrated… which is just about the dumbest thing you can do during a Disney run. You’re there to run, sure, but also to take the time to enjoy the festivity of it all — like we had done the previous day during the 5K. I had forgotten a very simple but important cardinal rule. Oy vey iz mir…

I finished the first mile with a 10:38 minute mile — almost a minute slower than my 10K pace. By the time I hit the second mile, the course had opened up a smidge and I was able to kick up my pace significantly. We made a U-turn and were heading East on Epcot Center Drive now. I was not only on course for my target pace of 9:45, I was actually pulling around a 9:20… that was, until my body reminded me that I still living with ulcerative colitis, and that a sudden bathroom break was imminently necessary. Right before Mile 3, I spotted a row of Porto-Potties on the roadside and took care of necessary business. I lost over a minute there, but as Mel Brooks put it in Blazing Saddles, “Affairs of state take precedence over affairs of state…”

By the time I got to the third mile, I was settled into a good 10K pace. Epcot Center Drive was now curving to the south and I had a strong running pattern. My Garmin put my pace for this mile at 9:43. What stood out to me by now was that the humidity was especially pronounced. It wasn’t hot, but it was definitely warm, thick, and sweaty. Most runners, even the walking ones, were drenched with sweat but pushing onward. As we reached the fourth mile the course took us west into the backstage Epcot area. The roads were narrower here, more crowded, with plenty more walkers and people dropping their pace from the resulting weather. At this point I gave up almost any expectations of trying to maintain a strong 10K pace. I made peace with it. Since I wasn’t going up to tear up the course, I might as well enjoy the rest of the race.

And I did! I even managed to capture this (in my humble opinion) way cool shot of the World Showcase Lagoon from Japan in the early morning hours:

Epcot in the wee hours

Epcot in the wee hours

Epcot itself was as festive as it had been the previous day. There was plenty of energy, music, character stops, and brightly lit decorations as far as the eye could see. It was also drizzly, resulting in wet surfaces for the remainder of the race. Like most around me, I was adjusting my pace to make sure I wouldn’t become the star of an epic wipe-out.

After rounding World Showcase, the course took us out of Epcot and through the International Gateway, over a bridge and into the Boardwalk resort area. The wet, wood-planked Boardwalk streets were especially slick and crowded, so more concentration was required here than anywhere else. Otherwise, the view across Crescent Lake was beautifully panoramic, even in the early morning dark. You could see happy runners at every stage of the roughly 0.6 mile circle around the lake.

Two important events of note occurred during this time:

1) I managed to spot Lou Mongello of the always-awesome WDW Radio podcast at the Boardwalk. I’ve spotted Lou at every Walt Disney World Marathon weekend since 2012, and I always managed to run over, fist-bump, and say hi. This was no exception; furthermore, this was not my first interaction with Lou over the weekend. Keep reading my followup race reports to find out more. It pays off at the end, trust me.

2) I’ve ranted and frothed furiously over runners who, upon seeing an on-course photographer, will suddenly cross over lanes of runners, cutting off people left and right, just to jump in front of a photographer for an “action snapshot”. Some tool ahead of me did exactly this at the Boardwalk. He sefishly wanted his “killer” picture, took off from one side of the course to the other without any regard for those around him who had to abruptly stop, suddenly change direction, or dart of the way to avoid his inconsiderate action. And thanks to the slick, wet planks of the Boardwalk surface, he slipped and totally freakin’ ate it. Loudly. Embarassingly. I won’t pretend that a huge surge of schadenfreude wasn’t surging through me, but I will say that this now red-faced idiot pulled himself up and was fine, albeit jogging away from the scene in a Slow Run of Shame. If anyone has a picture of that event, I will trade all my weekend race medals for it. Click that Contact Me link up top to get in touch.

OK moving on… by the time we circled around to the Yacht and Beach Club resorts and eventually entered the backstage Epcot area, we were at the 5.3 mile point. I eschewed intervals by now and wanted to see how strong I could finish the race. The answer to that was “not very” — that would have been a bit tricky, given the weather, wet surfaces, and narrow course — but I managed a 10 minute mile. We left backstage and entered Epcot right around Journey Into Imagination, through Innoventions West, and then out through the usual exit just east of Spaceship Earth. Soon the Finish Line was in sight and I kicked it up a notch, running the final 0.3 miles at 9:30 minutes/mile and crossing the Finish Line as a big hot sweaty mess.



Net time? 1:05:34.

Let’s take a look at the Quantitative Analysis:

The Quantitative Analysis

The Quantitative Analysis

Overall I placed 2,343 out of 9,234, which puts me in the top 25.3%. For Men I was 1,549 out of 4,041 — top 38.3%. For Men 40-44, 325 out of 819 — top 39.7%. And as always, these statistics are meaningless. I post them for my own dorky obsessiveness. What it tells me is that I should have spent more time enjoying all the sensory enjoyments of the race rather than trying to push for some kind of Hokey Land Speed Ultra Performance or something.

Still, I had a fine time. Like I said, I made peace with not burning up the course, and enjoyed the 10K immensely. What I didn’t enjoy was this ridiculous woman photobombing my Banana Pic:



That’s a transgression as dire as stealing the Red-Headed Stranger’s horse…

Well, I had my awesome Minnie medal and had completed yet another inaugural Disney race — my third! I was very pleased with myself. I met up with Boots, who captured this Hot Mess snapshot. Yikies.



You know, I don’t think I ever ate that banana…

And that was that. We once again returned to the Lodge, showered and changed, and were off to the Polynesian Resort for family-style breakfast at Ohana’s with my old friend Jeff. We go back all the way to elementary school, and he was in town from Phoenix to run the Half-Marathon the next day; his second Half. We caught up with him on the second floor, where he finally met Boots (they actually went to the same Def Leppard concert in Las Vegas last April, unaware of each-other’s presence there) and we spent the next two hours reminiscing, catching up on life, and discussing all things racing. I’d see him again the next day. But more on that in another post.

Here are a few pics delicately capturing the events described herein:

Leaving the Wilderness Lodge, heading to breakfast...

Leaving the Wilderness Lodge, heading to breakfast…

My buddy Jeff and I before breakfast at the Polynesian Resort...

My buddy Jeff and I before breakfast at the Polynesian Resort…

... and rather suddenly being devoured by Pluto!

… and rather suddenly being devoured by Pluto at Ohana’s!

Overall, it was a fine day and a good run. Despite my pointless obsession over getting a strong pace, I can definitely recommend the Walt Disney World 10K for any and all runners who are looking for a fun 6.2 mile run and a friendly environment with plenty of entertainment options. I also have to give special credit to Run Disney for spacing out the hydration stops in a much better fashion than they did during the inaugural Disneyland 10K last August. At no point did I ever feel like there was too long a distance between stops. For a first-time race — except for the quizzically longer wait between corrals at the beginning — it went about as well as you’d expect from a Run Disney event (AND at Run Disney prices!) I would heartily recommend this race for those beginning runners who have already mastered the 5K and are look for an interim Disney event as part of their training towards a Half Marathon. Good times. And here’s the video:

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