First off, I am sorry it has taken me two weeks to write my Princess Half Marathon weekend recaps but I promise they are totally worth it. I have a bunch of fun posts from that weekend that I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks.
Getting in the runDisney race weekend meet up events has become an endurance challenge of epic proportions. Since I stare aimlessly at work on a computer all day, I usually can stalk the Disney Parks Blog and the runDisney Twitter feed for updates on the meet up events. Recently, they have filled up very, very quickly so I have had to be on top of my stalking game to get in.
The #PrincessHalfMeetUp was no different this time around except that there seemed to be some technical issues Disney’s end. After being less than productive the Friday before the race, I didn’t know if I could get away with it again the following Monday plus it was a holiday. So when I woke at 5:30 to go to the gym and realized that the post had gone live at 2:30 AM, I really started to freak out. I honestly didn’t expect to get into this one but I managed to get my email sent just in time. It was shear luck on this one!
The Princess Half Marathon Meet Up was early on Friday morning at Epcot. By early, I mean I was awake at 3:30 to drive the two hours to Walt Disney World to be on time. When I arrived, I checked in and found Kelly and Pam and Christine. I love running into internet friends. It makes me feel a little less crazy for sharing so much of my life online. Heather and Jen showed up a little bit later.
Before we knew it, we were gathering together for our group photo (see below) and head off in the two running groups. As with the other Meet Up I have attended, the group is split up into a straight running group and a run-walk-run group. Normally, I stick with the run-walk-run group because I know I am slow. This time I decided to try my luck at the straight run (mostly because I wanted to say that I ran with Sean Astin).
As my group headed off into Epcot, I started to question whether or not I had made the right decision but it was too late to turn back now. My runs had been going great over the last few weeks so I was fairly certain I could handle it.
As our group made our way around Epcot, I enjoyed the conversation of the runners. We talked about the upcoming race weekend. As we approached the France Pavilion, we stopped for a quick photograph with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, who is also the Fairy Godmother of all the Princess Half Marathon participants. (I don’t have a picture of that since the runDisney photographer didn’t post it and I didn’t use my camera. ) Then we continued our run around Disney’s Boardwalk, which was an added bonus. The other meet ups have only been running around the theme parks.
I think the next time I am staying at Walt Disney World (and not for a race) I will definitely be running around the Boardwalk area. It is gorgeous! Our run finished up at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot. We headed inside the Biergarten Restaurant for breakfast and to wait for the other group to finish their run.
After everyone was back from their runs and grabbed breakfast, the real fun got started with an amazing group of guest speakers. Bob Hitchcock introduced Faron Kelley, the Director of Marketing and Communications for Disney Sports. He talked about the amazing growth and exciting future of runDisney. One of the things that I truly appreciate is that runDisney is not just about the races but also about the experience of guests who stay at the resorts year-round.
Next, we heard from Tara Gidus and Jeff Galloway, the official training consultants for runDisney. Tara provided some nutrition tips about how to fuel before, during and after a race or long run. Jeff gave us a few racing tips and warnings about racing in the heat. Bob informed us that Tara will be providing more tips and recipes on the runDisney blog. Tara and Jeff couldn’t stay very long because they were scheduled to speak at the Expo.
Then Bob introduced Rachel Booth, who is an amazing runner. She has won two Disneyland Half Marathons (2010 and 2011) and last year’s Princess Half Marathon (2012). Spoiler Alert: She won this year’s Princess Half Marathon (2013). Rachel spoke to us about the ups and downs of being a professional athlete and a mother. She told us about how her training regimen has changed over the years and how she has been able to stay injury-free.
Then Ali Vincent came up to talk to the group. Ali was the first female winner of the Biggest Loser and is a huge inspiration to women who are trying to live a healthier life. She spoke to us about the fear of changing your patterns and about taking charge of your life.
Did I mention that I ate breakfast with Sean Astin? No! Well here is the photographic proof. See there is Kelly, Sean, Tara and I sitting on the same side of the table. By the way, it was a totally surreal moment. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be able to say that I went for a run with Sean Astin and then ate breakfast with him.
After Ali was finished, we heard from the guys at New Balance. They never imagined that the partnership with runDisney would result in such a phenomenal response. Apparently, the previous promotional shoes from New Balance have never sold out as quickly as the ones they created for runDisney. The Mickey and Minnie shoes are gorgeous but they don’t really fit my feet. If you would like to own a pair of your own, you must go to one of the runDisney race expos. Besides talking to us about the awesome shoes, he also discussed the importance of having properly fitted running shoes.
Then we learned about the new Senses Spa, which recently opened at the Grand Floridian Resort. Several massage therapists demonstrated some at-home techniques for getting rid of those kinks associated from running and working out as well as the ones they would use during a sports massage session. I seriously considered calling the spa as soon as we got to hotel.
Before the conclusion of the event, we were greeted by Princess Minnie. A princess meet up would not be complete without the appearance of at least one Princess! With the conclusion of the event, we headed outside for photo opportunities with the special guests.
We also heard form April Holmes, a Paralympic athlete who has won multiple medals and has broken an astonishing 18 American records. Her story is truly inspiring and one that I will always carry with me. She never gave up and truly embraced her disability to become a world class athlete.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see Snow White. She is seriously my favorite Disney Princess and I had no idea if I would get to see her again during the following days. I hoped to see here during the Princess Half since I would be wearing a Snow White inspired running costume.
I think that Sean Astin can totally rock a tiara! What do you think?
Note: The pictures that do not have a watermark were provided by runDisney from the official event photographer.