runDisney Marathon Weekend Meetup

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was lucky-ducky enough to be chosen to participate in the runDisney meet up scheduled for the Marathon Weekend.

For the uninitiated, basically it’s an event that runDisney organizes for runners, where they can get up close and personal with accomplished professional athletes and celebrities (of the animated and non-animated variety).  It’s done in a very Disney way, and they had promised this meet up would be the biggest yet, being that it was the 20th anniversary of the Marathon Weekend.

We were asked for our shirt sizes in advance (as well as our twitter handles) and were told to meet at the front gates of Disney Hollywood Studios bright and early on Friday – 6:30am.  I’m guessing this isn’t super early for a lot of ‘real runners’, but for this gal whose flight was delayed by 3 hours, and who didn’t get to bed till after 2am?  It was early…  Nevertheless, I bolted out of bed and fired up the coffee maker.

Greg opted to take the morning to play 9 holes of golf, so he gave me (and a Pacebook Running Club acquaintance) a lift to the park.  We signed our “we won’t sue you if we fall and knock all our teeth out of our head” waivers, filed into the park and were given bags with T-shirts inside which we were asked to wear for the duration of the event.  Usually the shirts given out for this event are tech shirts, but this time we were given cotton shirts with a different logo commemorating the 20th anniversary for runDisney.  Nice, but hot once the sun came up!

Here’s where I discovered that a lot of people knew each other already.  Some had already done these meet ups before.  Some were old friends through blogs, or races, or Facebook groups.  Now, I’m a member of the Pacebook Running Group and a couple of others, I read some blogs, I recognized some people I follow on Twitter, but that morning I was too tired to pretend I am anything but a shy-boots so I tweeted and took photos and just enjoyed the quiet of the pre-dawn park. 

I turned out to not be so great on the ‘social’ part of the ‘social networking event’ at first.

Soon after we put on our shirts, a few special guests arrived to take photos.

I may be exhausted, but I’m ready to run Donald’s race!
Me and Mickey
Photo courtesy of runDisney

Me & Goofy

Before long, the photo op had ended and we were greeted by our runDisney hosts and invited to choose our pace group for the morning – the 9 minute/mile group, which included Olympian and Boston Marathon runner up, Desiree Davila and 8 time Disney Marathon winner Adriano Bastos – uh, not my group – or the 12 minute/mile group (yes please).

Our group was led by former Olympian and current runDisney training consultant, Jeff Galloway, which was a treat.  It’s thanks to Jeff’s Run/Walk/Run philosophy that I ever considered running a half marathon to be a remote possibility, and now I’m 4 deep in them!
We ran :30/:30-ish intervals, and I would guess that about 2/3 of the 100 or so participants chose to go this route.

I mean, most of us had a race the next day – might as well take it easy, right?  Well, easy-ish. 12 minutes/mile is pretty brisk for me, but thanks to my trial run earlier in the week, I felt confident.  And honestly, the :30/:30 intervals made it a lot easier than I’d expected.

During the run, I found myself pacing alongside Dick Beardsley so we chatted for a bit.   Super nice guy.  I tried not to think about how I was huffing and puffing along side an elite athlete who would go on to win in his age division the next day at the Half Marathon (1:32).
I know that running in a group makes me competitive, if for no other reason than to want to keep up and not look like a Fatty Outofshaperson, and so I forced myself not to straggle.

What it looks like when you try not to straggle.

Before long, we pulled into the theatre for Lights, Motor, Action! and were invited to grab a beverage, a breakfast sandwich and a seat.

Coming into the venue.
Waiting for the presentation to start.

I tried to ignore the sweat running down my back (oh, cotton shirt… who chose you?) and focussed on the start of the event.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, if it would be a long runDisney/New Balance commercial, or what.  Turns out, it was a lot of fun!

I mean, THIS guy showed up.

Joey Fatone shows his best Dancing with the Stars moves.
There was much swooning among the over 30 crowd.
Photo courtesy of runDisney

Joey (I call him “Joey” cause we’re tight like that.  And by that, I mean, it’s his name.) talked about how his wife was planning to run the Goofy (Half Marathon and Full Marathon on back to back days), but she broke her foot.  He, in the words of many a well-intentioned husband, said “I’ll run it for you”.  And so here he was – slightly under-prepared, but hoping his Dancing with the Stars cardio would suffice.  (Spoiler alert – he made it.)

Next up was the New Balance team, talking about types of shoes that runners can choose from.  (Here’s that commercial I was expecting…)

Shoes, shoes, shoes, New Balance shoes…

We learned that New Balance was now the official shoe of runDisney, and to commemorate that pairing, New Balance had designed Mickey and Minnie inspired shoes, for sale only at runDisney expos.  They made 1000 pairs, and in a great show of underestimating the obsessive nature of the Disney Nerd, they ran out of shoes by noon of day one of the expo. They’re used to selling a couple of hundred shoes at an expo…

They could have brought ALL of them, and still run out. (Hey, these are the nerds that sent over 5000 emails to try and get into 100 spots for the runDisney meet up.  These are the nerds who repeatedly crashed the Disney Parks Blog by hitting ‘refresh’ obsessively while waiting for the meet up announcement.  These are the nerds who bought out the new Dumbo Double Dare race combo at Disneyland within hours of it opening for registration…  These are nerds you should never UNDER prepare for when it comes to merchandise.)

We didn’t know they’d actually BUY the shoes…
Photo courtesy of runDisney

We heard from a panel of amazing runners, including Jeff Galloway, Bart Yasso, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Bill Rodgers, Dick Beardsley and Desiree Davila.

And here are their shoes.
Photo courtesy of runDisney

We heard the amazing statistic that this year was the very first time that female runners outnumbered male runners for the marathon – to which point someone asked if we could expect women’s shirt options for all the races – not just the ‘female oriented’ Princess and Tinkerbell Half Marathons.  Yeah!

Joan Benoit Samuelson talks about how it feels to see so many women joining the sport she revolutionized.

Former NFL player, Eddie Mason encourages us to get enough rest, and to strengthen our core.

Now a lot of women were supes geared up about seeing Joey Fatone, and that was cool and all, but THIS surprise was my favourite.

Drew Carey!

Photo courtesy of runDisney

 As someone who makes their living doing sketch and improv comedy, I have a lot of reasons to thank this dude.

Initially he was supposed to run the Marathon this weekend, and had challenged a group of sketch comics he was working with to participate too.  He offered to pay for everything, fly them first class, run the race, party-town, have fun.  The only caveat is, they had to finish the race.  If they didn’t, they owed him all the money back.  Over time, everyone backed out – all but one girl.  She was there running that weekend, and he was there to support her, as promised, even though he had injured his knee and wasn’t able to run himself.

Now that, if you’ll pardon the pun, is a stand-up guy.

He had some funny Price is Right stories, did a tight five, and took some questions.  Truly a highlight of the event for me.

I was too geeked out to talk to him like a normal human.

There was a raffle as well – they gave away a bunch of pairs of the limited edition runDisney New Balance shoes, which I did not win. 

But I did win THIS!

runDisney rolling duffle bag and a designer signed Vinylmation runDisney Mickey!

The event wrapped up with an invitation to come and experience a America’s Funniest Videos showing, where we’d watch some videos and receive a t-shirt, but Greg was on his way so I had to hustle to meet him, so I took a few more photos, collected my gift bag and headed on my way.

The gift bag included some full sized samples of H2O products (foot lotion and refreshing face spray), New Balance shoe laces, an iFitness waist pouch/race belt, a Cliff Mojo bar, and a One Day/One Park pass – sweet!

Overall, it was a wonderful event full of surprises.  I was so happy to have been included and you can bet that this Disney nerd will be hitting ‘refresh’ obsessively on the Disney Parks Blog again next time I do a runDisney race.

runDisney Running

tabethawells View All →

I am an actor/writer/director based in Chicago, IL.

8 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Sounds like fun. I always wondered about the meet ups and how it worked, etc. I was at a Price is Right taping in 2012, and Drew spoke about his running and going to WDW for the Anniversary during the breaks in between taping. Cool that you got to meet him at WDW.

  2. I was pretty awesome! We didn’t get picked to be contestants, but my friend and I had second row seats so we were high – fiving all the contestants as they told to ‘Come on Down…” lol Great energy and lots of fun!

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