Remember back in February when I did that 5k and I finished all starry-eyed and happy and said I had signed up for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler race at Walt Disney World?
Remember how I said I had learned my lesson about procrastinating for races and I would totally train for this 10 miler and it would be awesome?
Yeah. About that… Turns out, I actually kind of nailed this one. Why knew, right?
After my wonderful experience at the Royal Family 5k during the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World, I decided I liked running (who am I) and I wanted to challenge myself to do a longer-distance race. I signed up for the Tower of Terror 10 miler.
I attribute this to a lasting runner’s high and my lack of ability to determine exactly how far 10 miles is. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Meh, it’s not that far.” It is. It’s far. It’s even farther if you haven’t trained. The race itself is massive. Nothing makes you feel small than a race number in the 9900s.
I spent the last 8 months just trying to get more active. I’d spend my evenings walking and running a little, but in those eight months, I could never run for farther than about 4 miles, mostly because I didn’t have the time to commit to training for hours at a time.
The night of the race jumped up on me, and for some reason I was eerily calm about the whole event. My only goal was to finish and not get swept, and I think I knew in my heart that goal was completely realistic.
The first 5k flew by, with me running most of it. The 10k fast approached and I was feeling really good, alternating walking and running every few minutes. By the 15k I felt like I was running with weights on my legs and I was failing fast. I ended up walking the last three miles but would you believe it, I finished. And I cried like a baby.
It was truly one of the moments in my life when I was physically exhausted but so emotionally and personally proud. This moment was second only to delivering Maisy two years ago.
If you’re new to running, and you’re looking for things you have to have to survive your first long-distance race, here are a few of my favorites.
I chose the Fitbit One because I wanted a step tracker that could tell the difference between stairs and steps, and would help track my sleep hours.
This Fitbit clips onto your belt or, if you’re like me, onto your bra, and keeps track of how far you’re walking, your total active minutes for the day, and how you’re sleeping. I got into the habit of keeping mine on all day until I went to sleep so I could be sure I was getting enough steps to meet my daily goal.
Everything you do with your Fitbit is organized on the Fitbit app. You can enter your calories in for better accuracy on how many calories you’re burning, keep track of how much water you’ve drank, and see how far you walked in a day.
Some people don’t believe in running with ear buds. To those people I say, try running with a screaming toddler in the jogging stroller, the ear buds were my best friends.
The best thing about these earbuds is that they are designed for runners. When I first started getting into running, I used a pair of sound proof buds that when I wore, I would hear a whomp whomp whomp with every step. So, I switched those out for the pair that came with my iPhone, but as I got sweater, the buds slipped out more and I found I was stopping and adjusting them more and more often.
Yurbuds stay in your ears, but are not sound proof so you can easily hear traffic behind you, or messages during a race. What you don’t hear, however, that whomp whomp whomp of your feet hitting the ground. Amazing.
Camelbak Insulated Straw Bottle
I am obsessed with these water bottles. I literally don’t leave home without one!
I do most of my running with a stroller and I noticed that even if I was being incredibly coordinated, I would end up with more water down my front than in my body when I used regular water bottles.
The Camelbak bottles have straws you need to bite to start the flow of liquid, so they stay put in your mouth while you’re moving, and you’re actually able to hydrate like you should.
Nathan’s Fuel Pouch
I purchased this for my 10 miler and I’m so glad I did! The fuel pouch has a little zipper pouch, perfect for any energy chews or snacks you take along with you on your runs, and an easy to reach bottle that fits 16 fluid ounces of water or sports drink for easy access.
The best part? It doesn’t bounce, so you’re not worrying about any irritation from your pack bouncing around behind you for the duration of your run.
I’ll admit, this Sweaty Band has seen better days, but it’s only because I love it so much and wear it pretty much all the time.
Sweaty Bands have velvet backs that actually stay in place while you’re in motion. It’s perfect for people with short hair or bangs that don’t like to say out of your face when you’re out on the road.
The best piece of running advice I ever got was to invest in a good pair of insoles for my running shoes. I had been gellin’ in my Doctor Scholl’s gel inserts for a while. Those inserts work great, but they wear quickly and I found myself getting injured or feeling unsupported more and more.
I picked up a pair of Spenco Total Support Insoles at a local running store and instantly felt the difference when I slipped them into my shoes for a run. If you do nothing else for your feet before a run, purchase a good pair of insoles and you can thank me later!
Remember my 5k training horror story about the shin spints? I can proudly say I never irritated my shin splints getting ready for the 10 miler. Why? Compression sleeves. I wear them when I go out for a run, and it helps prevent injury so I can recover from my races faster.
Raw Threads Tank Tops
Raw Threads tops are made from bamboo cotton so they stay super cool and dry the entire time you run. Not to mention they are crazy soft! This company is based out of Celebration, Florida so they make lots of shirts inspired by the runDisney races.
A Killer Playlist
As I mentioned earlier, I love having music when I’m running. Sometimes all it takes is one song to make its way through the playlist to just push you into overdrive. My race-day playlist had classic pop hits, the soundtrack from Guardians of the Galaxy (David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream hit me at mile 3 and I reached my fastest mile), and nerdy favorites like the theme song from Doctor Who–talk about a great song to run to!
A Support System
I know I owe my success to a number of factors, none of which is proper training. I had a lot of love and support too from friends who are actually athletic, and family who love me either way.
Justin followed me around to catch me running/walking/crawling my way around those 10 miles and seeing him was an instant burst of adrenaline, mostly because he proudly wore a “That’s my woman” face each time he saw me.
Now that’s love.
If you’re doing a long distance race, you’re going to want someone you can lean on after you cross that finish. And I mean that literally. It will be difficult to walk and you parked super far away.
Sadly, it doesn’t look as though a Tower of Terror 10 Miler has been scheduled for 2015 yet. It was such a fun race, and I hope others are able to experience it too! I’m so excited to have this super cool medal with glow-in-the-dark windows and a working elevator!