Disney’s Race for the Taste 2008

The startI pushed Tuesday’s interval session pretty hard and ended up with a strained right calf. I went ahead and ran 8 miles on it Wednesday but it was awfully sore after that. Thursday was a planned day off anyway, so I did my best to ice it and massage it. It felt pretty good on Friday morning, but I decided to take another day off from running and did 8 miles on the bike instead…since I was in a taper for the race anyway.

I jogged around a cross country meet on Friday following my daughter and it felt stiff, but certainly runnable. Saturday I did a 2 mile shake out run around the Caribbean Beach Resort at Disney and things went very nicely. I spent most of Saturday walking around Epcot, taking in parts of the Food and Wine festival. That worked out pretty well since I got to experience a series of small snacks instead of one big meal. On the way back to the hotel, I was pretty nervous, though. I took a shower to relax, laid out everything for the morning and set up a wake up call for 5 am.

Upon waking, I dressed quickly, grabbed an orange juice and one of my homemade energy bars, and drove to the finish at Epcot. There, I boarded a bus to the starting line at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. I went a little minimalist today, opting to leave the hat and sunglasses at home. When I arrived at the start, I attached my timing chip and bib, ate my energy bar, drank my OJ and then set out for a few slow laps around the parking lot. As planned, this loosened up the bowels and I hit the Port O’ Potty with plenty of time to spare. I then ran a few short strides to get my body used to my goal pace, then headed to the starting line 10 minutes before the gun.

The mood at the starting line is kind of quiet. They’re playing food related songs, so we get to hear the likes of “Eat It”, and “Addicted to Spuds”. After a few minutes, we get to the National Anthem and there is absolute silence. It’s still dark. There are electric lights illuminating the mob of 2600+ people. The start is broken into corrals based on expected pace on the honor system. I line up at the front of the second corral, which is 7:01 – 9:00 per mile. The 7:00 and below corral fairly empty, so I’m pretty near the front. I”ll cross the start a few seconds after the gun, but it doesn’t look like anyone in front of me is going to impede my progress. After the anthem, the race host asks us to raise our hands if it’s our first 5K. I raise mine and the lady in front of me congratulates me.

“I haven’t finished it yet,” I say.

She laughs, points to the corral in front of us and says, “well, you look like you should be up there”. I agree that I look faster than I am, but simply remark that I’ve just never gotten around to running a 10K before, though I have run a marathon.

Before we know it, fireworks are flashing over the starting gate and we’re set free. I cross the line 8 seconds after the official gun time and start my watch. As is usually the case, the beginning is about jostling for position and getting into a rhythm. I find myself running at sub 7 minute mile pace, but breathing easily. I relax into a 3-3 rhythm and carefully pick my way through the pack. At the entrance to the wide world of sports, we make a left turn and the pack is pretty strung out. I see the 1 mile mark in the distance and subconsciously switch to a 2-2 breathing rhythm. This worries me a little, but it is a race after all, so I just go with it. I pass 1 mile in exactly 7:15 according to my watch.

We continue down the road and I fall in behind a shirtless guy who looks a little like the Mummy from the Brenden Frazier movie. We veer left down an exit ramp. I pick up speed on the incline, but there’s a hairpin turn at the bottom, so I slow my pace gently to avoid slipping on the wet asphalt at the bottom. We dash under an overpass where the first water station awaits. I’ve mad a point to hydrate myself in the previous day and I don’t plan on taking in any water during the race, so I drift to the middle of the road and cruise through the water station. I pass many runners in the process.

Beyond the overpass, we’re running pretty much single file now. We cruise under the Disney Studios sign and into the parking lot approach. We pass the 2 mile mark. My watch reads 14:27. I’m 3 seconds under my planned pace. A few more turns takes us into a backstage area of the Disney Hollywood Studios. We eventually emerge alongside the Lights, Motors Action stunt show. A right turn takes us directly through the actual stunt area of the show. In fact, we’re on the Jumbotron! The guy directly in front of me whips out his cell phone to get a picture of himself on the Jumbotron. I pass him. I don’t look to see myself on the Jumbotron, but he probably has a good shot of me passing him.

Outside Lights Motors ActionOnce outside of the stunt show, we continue up New York Street, then make a left turn at the end. We pass the 3 mile mark here. My watch reads 21:34. I’m 9 seconds ahead of my planned pace now. I increase my pace to break my previous 5K record and I pass 5K in 22:19 – an 11 second PR. I think back to my last 5K and how tired I was at the end. I think about how I’ve just beaten that time and I’m still running, feeling relatively good.

We continue up a slight incline to the center of the Studios. We round the giant Mickey sorcerer hat, then continue around the lake and toward the main entrance. There, we take a sharp left briefly into a backstage area, then a right turn out of the park. Cruising across the entrance area, we turn onto a narrow pathway that leads to the Boardwalk resorts. We’re 3.5 miles into the race and I’m really starting to feel it now. I slow myself a little to recover and focus on keeping my legs moving. I pass the 4 mile mark in just under 29 minutes. I’m still a few seconds below my pace, but I’ve developed a side stitch in the right side of my chest. It’s not horrible, so I focus on slow deep breaths. I let my belly expand, then force the air out by flexing my abs tightly. The stitch is still there, but it’s no longer sharpening. Now, I develop another stitch in my left abdomen.Studios

“Great,” I think two at once, “how nice!”. Before it gets out of hand, I relaxed, relieve my pace just slightly and focus on my breathing. We hit a bridge, which provides a relatively steep incline. The incline distracts me from the stitched and forces me to focus even more in by breathing: in-in, out-out. in-in, out-out. When the bridge levels out, the stitches are gone and I increase my cadence down the other side.

I”m still feeling somewhat out of breath, but I keep breathing deeply and I keep my legs moving all the way around the lake passed the Yacht Club and the Beach Club, up another bridge, and toward Epcot. We take a left, then a right and enter Epcot through a backstage area between the Great Britain and Canada Pavilions in the World Showcase. Again, I drift to the middle of the course as I approach another water stop and pass a few more runners who’ve slowed to grab a drink. I run through Great Britain, and up another bridge toward France. As I’m climbing the incline of the bridge, my body begins to retch and a wave of nausea comes over me.

“Crap,” I think, “I don’t have time to puke”. I gag once, but nothing comes out. I take a deep breath, crest the bridge and it’s gone as soon as it came. I see the 5 mile marker and I’ve lost time. My watch reads around 35:30. I’m 15 seconds off my planned pace, I’ve just nearly puked and I”m very out of breath. If I want to hit my goal, I’ve got to haul ass.

Outside ChinaI increase my cadence on the other side of the bridge, taking advantage of gravity. At the bottom, I don’t let up. The ground level out, but my legs keep moving. I’m in familiar territory. In addition to having walked this way last night, the 5 mile mark of this race is in the same place as the 25 mile mark of the marathon. The last 1.2 miles here are the same as the last 1.2 miles of the marathon. Last January, I walked this path in severe pain, my head held low. I felt defeated. Since that day, I have visualized myself running this path many, many time. During the last mile of my training runs, I often picture myself running by each country of the world showcase one by one. Each country brings me closer to the finish. I always picture myself busting out a crazy pace over this distance.

That’s paying off now. Above the waist, I feel like crap. My face is sweaty and red. My abdomen and chest are heaving, trying to suck as much air as possible. My legs feel light, though. They are moving like the pistons of a steam engine. I’m not entirely sure they’re still attached to my body, but the rest of me seems to be moving forward with them, so I guess they are. Unlike my previous race around this mile, my chest is forward and my head is held high. I’m pulling those 15 seconds back.

As I fly past country after country, I pass a few more runners. We’re pretty spread out now. I finally reach Mexico and turn into Future World now. The giant silver ball of Spaceship Earth looms in front of me. I know the 6 mile mark is ahead and I surge forward toward it. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly where I expected it. I pass Spaceship Earth and run into a backstage area before seeing the 6 mile mark: 43 minutes, 34 seconds. I’ve pulled back a lot of time, but I had told myself I needed to hit this marker in 43:30. Furthermore, the location of the marker has thrown me off a bit. I feel I should be sprinting toward the finish now, but I can’t even see it yet.

Charging toward the finishMy body retches again and I slow just slightly. There are a lot of people here and I sure as hell don’t want to puke in front of them, only 300 yards from the finish. Again, the feeling passes as quickly as it came and I round a corner to the finishing chute. I can see the time ticking off and I push my legs as fast as they will go. The clock ticks past 45 minute and I cross the line seconds later. My gun time is 45:03, but thanks to the 8 seconds it took me to cross the start, my official chip time registers 44:55 (the same as my watch). I’ve made my goal by 5 seconds.

After getting my chip removed and my medal, I stop for a quick picture, then grab a powerade and a water. I watch the other competitors finish as I consume my liquids. I’m quite literally dripping sweat. There is a growing puddle underneath me. Eventually it all sinks in. I realize the sun has risen at some point during the race, though I can’t remember when. I realize I covered the last 1.2 miles in roughly 1/3 of the time it took me during the marathon. I realize I’ve broken my 5K record and then run another 5K. I realize I have a 10K time that will earn me a better corral location for the half marathon in January. I finish my water and head back to the hotel. Mission accomplished.

I finished 62nd out of over 2600 finishers. I was 4th out of 148 in my age group…missed an age group award by 28 seconds, but beating 45 minutes was sweet enough for me. I’ll post pics when they’re available.

Categorized as Races


  1. Good read. I am the guy that finished 27 seconds ahead of you in the 30-34 age grouping.

    Having basically grown up in Florida, I should have known to expect massive amounts of humidity. However, I was not and found the humidity pretty incredible (to run in). The air is a bit drier here in Austin.

    Congrats on the run and finish and good luck on your half. I’ll be running the Miami marathon a couple of weeks later.

  2. Hi Zac,

    It’s pretty funny that you actually found this. Maybe if I knew what you look like, I could have tracked you down and pulled back those 27 seconds – Ha!

    Actually, I left it all out on the course. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have run that race any faster than I did. Being that close to an age group award was a pleasant surprise. I’m just happy I broke 45 minutes.

    I’ve gotten pretty used to the humidity since I have to train in it every day. It didn’t really hit me until the end when the sweat was just pouring off of me.

    Congrats to you as well and good luck in Miami!

  3. Yeah, it’s a small world (pardon the Disney-themed pun). I was searching Google to see if anybody had photos up…should know better given only Disney employees were on the course save for the last 1/4 of a mile…and found your blog.

    Congrats on a good run. I think I might give it a go again next year. If so, I’ll focus more on trying to prepare for a shorter fast run (10k) and see if I can’t break 40 minutes. It was a fun time and a cool event. I will say it was pretty technical, though, with that u-turn before the first water stop and the numerous turns in the Disney Hollywood park area.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *