Let me just start by saying that this was an amazing event and I am thrilled that I was given the opportunity to take part in it. Last Wednesday, I was selected to take part in this year’s Wine and Dine Meet Up and Eat Up. The event took place yesterday morning at the ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWOS).
We instructed to meet at the globe in front of the WWOS at 7 AM, which meant I was up at 3:30 AM. Who in the world actually wakes up at 3:30 in the morning on the first day of their vacation? Crazy people that’s who! After getting accepted to participate, I tried to rearrange my hotel reservations for the weekend so that I could avoid the ridiculous wake up call but no such luck. Thankfully, I live less than 2 hours from Walt Disney World so it was possible for me to still participate in the event.
I arrived at the WWOS around 6:45 and met up with some of the other participants. Five minutes later, a brigade of golf carts arrived and we met Bob Hitchcock from runDisney. He was the guy who coordinated the entire event and communicated with all of the participants. After signing waivers (injury and likeness) and waiting for the rest of the group, we boarded the golf carts and headed back to the track.
After we got back to the track, Bob went over the events planned for the morning. First up was a 40 minute discussion with Olympic Track and Field Coach Brooks Johnson, who has coached athletes participating in every summer Olympics since 1968.
He talked to us about the mechanics of running. One of the things that really stuck with me is that it doesn’t matter if I am an elite athlete or not the mechanics are still the same. He emphasized the importance of efficiency in regards to stride length and stride rate.
Coach Johnson also talked about how important strength is to running. Foot strength, upper body strength and core strength are the areas where most runners are lacking. I was surprised with how much these areas can actually affect my running. I will be sure to focus on these areas as I continue my journey as a runner.
Once we learned about the mechanics of running, Coach Johnson had us practice what we learned. We lined up in groups of five and did sprints along the track.
Next up on the agenda was a question and answer session with last year’s Wine and Dine winners: Anton Van Zyl and Melissa Wisner. These two provided some basic tips on how to run your best race at night and on this course. I have never run a half marathon before so I was very interested in the tips that they had to offer. One of the unique aspects of running a race at Disney is the terrain changes. Melissa said that it is important to stay focused on the highway portions to regain some of the time that you inevitably lose while running through the parks. Way too many things to look at. Anton told us to let go on the down hills. While there aren’t many of them, the down hills are definitely a great place to make up some time.
At long last, it was time for the 2 mile run. To be quite honest with you, I wasn’t really anticipating the track workout with Coach Johnson so I felt totally warmed up and ready to go. Before we went running, Jeff Galloway talked to us about the principles behind he run/walk methods and the importance of what we choose to eat on race day. Fueling for a night race is very different than a morning race. I definitely paid attention to his tips because I didn’t want to get sick during/after the race.
For the 2 mile run, we were given the choice of either running with Melissa and Anton or with Jeff Galloway. I chose to run with Jeff because I wanted to learn as much as possible from him. I was also afraid of the pace that the other group would be setting and I didn’t want to kill my legs before the race.
Because we were running with Jeff Galloway, our group followed his run/walk method. The intervals were 30 seconds running/30 seconds of walking. The intervals weren’t a problem at all for me. The only problem I had with the run was that it was on a back woods trail behind the WWOS. I wish I had known this before hand because I would have worn my old running shoes instead of my new ones. It was an absolutely gorgeous route though and the intervals provided us with plenty of opportunities to ask Jeff questions.
Breakfast time! Boy was I glad that I grabbed some yogurt and granola to eat on the drive over this morning because I don’t think I would have lasted much longer without eating something. After our morning workout, we headed over the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill.
The last part of our morning included a presentation by one of Disney’s Chefs, Gary Jones. He was joined by a special guest (pictured above) to show us one of his favorite post workout breakfasts. I will post the recipe as soon as I try to make myself. It was delicious and I can’t wait to try to make it. He also gave us some great suggestions as to how we could change up the recipe to meet our specific tastes. Chef Gary made Quinoa Birchermuesli, which is a Swiss cereal made with a South American grain. He invited two members of the group up to the stage to help.
While we were eating breakfast, one of runDisney’s executives talked to us about what where the organization is headed and what it has accomplished in the year since it started. He also gave us a few hints at future races, nothing specific but definitely more to look forward to. Then it was time for pictures with Chef Mickey and goody bags!
By the way, Chef Mickey needs to be on the lookout for my boyfriend. Apparently, he was less than thrilled that I received a kiss on the check. I didn’t think he could be jealous of mouse but then again it is Mickey Mouse. The goody bags were awesome mostly because we got two bags and the shirt was individualized with our Twitter handles!