Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Meetup

Marathon Mickey and I at Hollywood Studios!!
(photo courtesy of runDisney)
    What started out as a great Goofy Challenge Weekend just got happier when I received the email that I had the opportunity to attend the Walt Disney World Meetup on the Friday before the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon! I was ecstatic! Are you kidding me?? And just wait until you see the lineup...I'm still in shock. Shock I tell ya! We were to meet at the entrance bright and early (before the park opened) at Hollywood Studios where we were then given a limited edition 20th Anniversary t-shirt. Thank you runDisney. I love mine and have worn it several times at home already! First surprise of the morning, Mickey, Donald and Goofy in their RunDisney Marathon attire. aaaaaahhhh!!! Best ever. Pics with these guys before race even began. No words to describe how happy I was at this point. I was feeling like a RunDisney Rockstar!!!  I met tons of friends at the meetup and will cherish being a part of such a historic event!
 Hanging out with my pals Jindy and Goofy!

From the entrance, we were given the option to either run/walk with Jeff Galloway or run through Hollywood Studios with a few Olympians. That was a very hard choice to make but ultimately I had to take the path with the Olympians! When will I ever be able to say again that I ran through Disney World with Olympians?!?! And just like that, we were off! We ran 2.6 miles and had a few surprises along the way! First stop...Minnie Mouse! Pluto, Buzz and Woody were on the course too!
 Flip-cammed Minnie! (photo courtesy of runDisney)
 
 Big Smiles with Marathon Minnie!
We ended our run through Hollywood Studios at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show  where the stage was set to include lots of surprise celebs, Olympians, NFL players, sponsors and RunDisney folks waiting to speak to us and give us insight, tips and advice on all things running! I was able to mix and mingle for a few minutes before they started speaking and grab a few pics.


I was in Celebrity overload!! :)
First I had a nice chat with Bill Rogers, famous marathon runner, I had met him at the Talladega Half in Talladega, Al. last Fall and we chatted about upcoming races and what he thought about the Nascar course. Then I moved on to chat with Dick Beardsley....aaaahhhh I loved him! Super nice guy! I told him all about riding Everest during the Marathon two years ago with my sister and he gave me a shout out when he addressed the meetup crowd. How exciting! Moving on to the next guy is Runner's World Bart Yasso! I didn't get to chat with Bart as long as I would have liked to...I want to hear all of the details of the Runner's World Challenge. Runner's World Challenge is on the Bucket List for sure! Next up was the 7 time winner of the Walt Disney World Marathon, yes I said 7 times, Adriano Bastos! And I'm sure by the time I am done writing this post he will be the 8th time winner. He showed us his tattoos, one Mickey for each win. How cool is that?!?!
Hanging out with more RunDisney fellas by the stage. :)
 An incredible lineup of speakers!
(photo courtesy of runDisney)
 I missed a photo-op with NFL player Eddie Mason!
(photo courtesy of runDisney)
 
As we sat down, all of the guest speakers sat down and gave us lots of advice, tips and personal experiences about running, racing and overall general health. I really enjoyed hearing Jeff Galloway talk about his philosophy on running marathons and was very excited to hear him talk about being a "Perfect 20" this year for the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon. WOW. What an accomplishment!! I can't even imagine what type of discipline he must have to be Marathon-trained for 20 years!!! That seems so crazy to me and I'm a tad bit jealous of that BUT..... this year I will be a Perfect Princess for the 5th Anniversary Princess Half Marathon! Yep. That's right. I'm on my way to Perfect 20 too. Princess Style!  I was so intrigued that I asked Jeff Galloway if I could see his "Perfect 20" ring up close and personal. It was given to him (along with 95 others) by Disney. He was very proud of it and pointed out all of the details to me. Thanks Jeff!
 A closeup of Jeff Galloway's Perfect 20 Ring.
Next up we heard from the New Balance crew. RunDisney and New Balance have partnered up and designed a shoe specifically made for RunDisney that were sold exclusively at the Marathon Expo. Check out the Disney Parks Blog to see the inspiration behind the design of the new Mickey and Minnie inspired runDisney shoe. I totally missed out! Bummer. New Balance had brought in 1000 pairs of shoes (mens and women's) that they thought would last throughout the expo. Little did they know that they wold sell out in less than 2 hours. That will teach me a lesson: NEVER schedule flight to Orlando the same time of the Expo opening! Lesson learned. However, New Balance and RunDisney were so very gracious to give out a few pairs during the meetup to a few lucky attendees. Congrats to those winners!
 The New RunDisney running shoe from New Balance! Must. Have.
(photo courtesy of runDisney)
 
 There were lots of very famous ladies at the meetup as well. Joan Benoit Samuelson, remember her?? She won the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics for running a marathon, the first year the marathon was added to the Olympics. She is a HUGE inspiration to me! She spoke so humbly about her experiences on being a marathon runner and winning the gold medal. It was so cool to meet her in person. I hung out with Minnie a few more minutes and grabbed a "not so crazy" picture, then chatted with Des Davila, Long distance track runner in the 2012 London Olympics. She was very sweet and all smiles posing for pics with everyone. I sat through the meetup right next to runDisney's own, Tara Gidus, aka @DietDivaTara on Twitter, so of course had to grab a quick pic with her! She is a wealth of knowledge regarding diet and nutrition and how it all relates to exercise and running. I'm going to be sure to catch her speak at the Expo.
 Hanging with some of the most important RunDisney ladies.
And just when I thought there couldn't quite possibly be anyone else that could top the list of celebs and Olympians....Joey Fatone  rides in like he is part of the stunt show!!! OMG!! I'm a music junkie and this just made my day! He spoke about running in his wife's place for Goofy Challenge and how he was thrilled to represent Disney in their races. I love seeing Celebs and Disney coming together! And now for the pic..yes please!
 Joey Fatone..Tearing up my Heart! :)
 Joey getting silly with the crowd! (photo courtesy of runDisney)
Okay so really at this point I'm thinking it's over. Nope....ONE LAST SURPRISE!!!! It's Drew Carey from The Price is Right!!!! Get out!!!!!!!!!! I knew he had ran a few Disney runs on the West coast but NEVER expected to see him here on the East Coast! He's a huge Disney fan and was honored to be a part of such an epic weekend. Of course I had to tell him "Thank you" on my sister's behalf. We went on the Price is Right two years ago the day after running Princess Half Marathon and she actually got on stage and won!! She won a $3060 bathtub, Maid Service for a Year and a $600 gas-powered remote control airplane. I was her "People" in the audience along with my Mom and another friend! I've never screamed "ONE DOLLAR" so many times in my life. LOL!!! And to think she got on the stage and won because she still had the chip-timer on her shoe from the Princess Half and told them all about the race! So Cool! As luck would have it, Drew was recovering from an injury and wasn't running this weekend and neither was my sister. She had torn a ligament in her foot and had to back out at the last minute so I had to grab a pic of Drew and I to send to her. :)
 Drew Carey!!!
Well I don't know what to say except THANK YOU runDisney for a great Walt Disney World Marathon Meetup Experience!! I knew the races were well organized and were fabulous but when said "meetup" you really went above and beyond! I could never have imagined all of the big names and surprises that would be here!! I took tons of pics, had a great run through Hollywood Studios and am proud to call myself a "runDisney" runner!
 They say a picture is worth a thousand words...I can sum this picture up with one word.
"runDisney" :)
Thanks for reading. I was excited to share this post with you!
Make sure to check out the latest and greatest runDisney information on runDisney.com! Happy Running and See you at the Castle!