Posts Tagged by Jeff Galloway

2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend Health & Fitness Expo

All runDisney race weekends start with a trip to the Health & Fitness Expo.  Kristin Cooke is here to take us on a tour of this year’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend Expo and fills us in on all the ins and outs…including some stories from the craziness at opening!


2016 Princess Half Expo

I heard lots of stories from opening morning of the Expo. One girl had a wine glass taken out of her hand and the person ran away right after. A man stood in the checkout line with 3 different boxes of merchandise. Some girls were throwing wine glasses at each other and they broke. Apparently, there was a crush at the jacket table.


Luckily, I didn’t get in town until later Thursday night. So, I headed over to the Expo first thing Friday morning. My sister drove from the resort and we had no problem getting in and parked. We ended up in a gravel lot to the right of the main area.



We walked to the HP Field House to get our packets. The set up was slightly different this year. All packet pickups were on the ground floor. Since I was doing the Glass Slipper Challenge, I picked up my bib and immediately got my picture taken.



I also got my pre-ordered necklace and GSC pin at the same place. In a separate area, I picked up my race retreat bracelet. My sister got her 10k packet in a second area. The shirts for the Glass Slipper were also in this area.  After picking up everything, we followed the directions to the Dooney & Bourke pre-purchase area. I had ordered the shopper purse (the largest one) before they even showed the pattern. They dressed up the hallways with princess silhouettes and topiaries. There was no line for the pre-purchased items at all.


The Dooneys were in their own location. I walked right up and got my bag. I think it looks great. I love this pattern. It’s close enough to the original but not too childish to take to work. I had not pre-purchased any other items. There was a tape queue line on the floor. However, no one was in line.

Next to the pre-order area was an official merchandise area. It had a nice selection of items. The only thing that was completely sold out that I noticed was the Princess wine glasses. They had runDisney ones, but no Princess ones. Next to the Official Merchandise was the Dooney & Bourke area. I was surprised to see there were still Dooneys for sale. Either they had a lot more stock this year, or a lot of people disagreed with me about the pattern.




After we finished browsing the official merchandise, we went over to the Jostens Center to the main Expo area. I love browsing Raw Threads and Sparkle Skirts for their latest offerings. They always have a large selection at the Expo. We kept going to the back so my sister could pick up her 10k shirt. The non-challenge shirts are all picked up here. They also had a shirt exchange. There was another section of official merchandise in this area. The offerings we almost identical to what was in the HP Field House.


Right outside the official merchandise was Jeff Galloway. He was promoting his half marathon in Atlanta and the virtual option which could be used while running the Princess half. I had to stop and get my picture with him. He really is a nice guy.


We also tried the samples of different Luna bars. Most of them were really tasty. We saw some other booths doing wheel spins and other giveaways, but didn’t stop. While my roommate picked up some socks from Fit2Run, I wandered back to the New Balance area.





I knew there was a virtual queue for shoes. I was hoping to pick up a pair for my daughter. I bought my son a pair a year ago at the inaugural Star Wars race. After talking to a man at the entrance, he went to the back to look for my daughter’s size. If I had wanted them for myself, I would have needed to register for the queue. Luckily, he found the Ariel shoes for my daughter. I also got the flounder clip-ons at the register. The New Balance area wasn’t too crowded. I think the virtual queue has really helped with that.


I went back to find my roommate and sister. The one other thing I wanted was the discount from MarathonFoto.  After consulting the map in the event guide, we realized we would have to go back to the HP Field House. Last year, they had booths in both places. I guess they consolidated this year. As we made our way back, we noticed the crowd was starting to build. Luckily, I was able to go right up to a tablet and purchase the certificate. It was not as good of a deal as last year, but $75 for a $100 certificate is still good. They did have a wait when I was finished as they only had 3 working tablets.


We decided to grab a bite to eat at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grille. I ended up with chicken nuggets, fries, and a Coke Zero in a bottle as the fountain wasn’t working. They did have a pasta special for the runners which my sister ordered. They were not crowded this year. We were slightly earlier than normal lunch crowd at 11, but there were only 4 other tables in use. Last year it was packed and overflowing. The food was pretty good. The staff were wonderful and cleared our empty plates for us. When we were finished, we went back to our car.


Leaving the ESPN Wide World of Sports, although slightly confusing, was not hard. They had officers directing traffic at the exit. It was frustrating watching them talk to people in vehicles while we waited, but overall it was not bad.

Having not been to the Expo on Thursday morning, I did not see the worst part. In my experience, the Expo was better than last year and the merchandise (aside from the Princess wine glasses) seemed to be well stocked. There were even Dooneys left! I hope they learn from the Thursday fiasco and make changes for next year. Although it will never happen, having the first day for runners only might help. (RAD note: This is a really good idea!) Also, allowing runners to pre-order more items could take some of the pain away. I truly believe most of the bad behavior comes from resellers. Thursday’s issues aside, I think it was a well-run Expo with lots of good vendors.

Kristin Cooke Bio PicKristin Cooke is a running mother of 2 who loves Disney. She is a Database Administrator by profession and started running in 2012 to get in shape after her second baby. Running has become her social activity and stress relief.
You can read about Kristin’s races on her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

First Time Running Disney at the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon

Your first race is something you will never forget.  Your first runDisney race is a memory of a lifetime!  I remember every second of mine like it was yesterday.  This year, Celissa’s first half marathon AND runDisney race was the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Just look at all the fun she had!


It never crossed my mind that I would one day run a half marathon. I never pictured myself running such a long distance and saying that I am a runner. But today, I am extremely proud to say that I am a half marathoner!! Not only did I complete a half marathon; I completed a runDisney half marathon!!

I signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon under heavy medication after having my wisdom teeth pulled out. I disliked running but I have always wanted to participate in a runDisney event. A couple of weeks after signing up and after my little sister pushing me, I downloaded the training plan by Jeff Galloway and started my new running road to complete the half marathon in once piece.

Well August came fast and it was time to head to Disneyland to attend the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo. I had read that the expo had been chaotic in the past, but it was such a breeze. I was so excited to get my bib and t-shirt!! Words cannot express the emotions going through my body at the time. This non-runner was going to try to complete a half marathon.

After my mom, sister, and I picked up my bib, we headed to the expo. WOW! We were completely overwhelmed by how many vendors there were. We were able to visit the KT tape table who graciously retaped my shins since they were giving me problems throughout my training. We were also able to see Sean Astin from The Goonies and Lord Of The Rings speak about his experience as a runner. He is such a great speaker and gave us great advice on keeping positive throughout our runs.

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The next morning, we were up at 3:10 a.m. on race day. I stayed calm as I put on my Goofy costume, but the excitement was creeping up.

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As I packed my last Gu in my running belt, all I could think of was what if I was picked up by the sweepers? What if I overheated? Is that possible? Then before I knew it, we were walking towards the Disneyland Hotel and trying to find our way to the corrals. As we followed every runner that was headed the same direction, I started to calm down and enjoy the positive energy that was radiating throughout Downtown Disney. Everyone had a smile on their face amidst the humidity that was starting. We finally made it to the corrals and I had to part with my family since they were not running.

family run-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

I was on my own. I was placed in corral J since I had never ran before and did not submit a running time. Once I reached my corral, corrals A and B were off and the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen started playing. Then corrals C and D were off. And then corral E. F. G. H. I. As we started to move closer to the starting line, I had noticed that we had been standing in the same place for close to an hour. Even before my feet realized that they were hurting, we were off! Here we go!!

We reached Mile 1, which seemed to be right around the corner. Mile 2 was filled with school marching bands, color guards and drumlines. They cheered everyone on as we passed by.

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We had finally entered California Adventure and immediately ran into the Green Army men from Toy Story. I continued running and finally hit Paradise Pier! It was so neat seeing all the colors coming from Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

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I continued running and before I knew it, I was out of California Adventure and into Downtown Disney. While running towards Disneyland, I was able to see my mom and sister waving and gave them high fives as I ran by. Running into Disneyland was AMAZING! Somehow the feeling doesn’t compare to that of just walking in. I ran onto Main Street and saw the drummers from the Soundsational Parade. They totally kept the atmosphere positive and upbeat.


As I headed down Main Street, I was able to stop and took a picture with the Three Caballeros (minus Donald).

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The course took us in front of the partners statue and into Frontierland, having us pass Thunder Mountain and into Fantasyland. I had just missed Dumbo flying in the air when I took my picture, but there wasn’t a line so I asked the cast member to take a picture.


All the cast members were so helpful and never hesitated to take pictures. I passed the carousel and heard Cinderella’s step sisters yelling at us from the horses. I continued the course and ran into Sleeping Beauty’s castle!!! This is one of the highlights of the entire race and it was fantastic to hear music coming from the castle!


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We ran out of the castle and into Tomorrowland where I was able to take a picture with Darth Vadar!


The course went from Tomorrowland then between the Matterhorn and Finding Nemo. As we were running to ToonTown, we saw Jafar and Maleficent out for pictures as well as Dr.Facilier and Cruella De Ville. I ran into Toon Town and got a picture with the Army Men from Toy Story. I thought it was so neat to begin and end the course throughout the parks with the green army men.

army men-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

We headed out of Disneyland and into the backlot where we were greeted by the custodial staff and the beautiful Clydesdale horses.


From then on was all highway. There were plenty of water and Powerade stations to refuel yourself along the way. So many marching bands and cheerleaders, florklorico dancers, Polynesian dancers, and rows and rows of classic cars entertained us.  Thank you spectators for getting up so early to cheer us on!!



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I headed towards the Honda Center, which I had never seen before, and then the course lead us onto the Santa Ana trail which was dry but gorgeous. And hot! The sun had decided to peak his head out and join us for a 13.1 mile run.

honda center-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon


We continued running and finally saw the Anaheim Angles Stadium! Oh. My. Goodness! Running into the stadium was amazing!  Everyone in the stands made us feel like rockstars! It ended too soon, but that meant that we were close to the finish line!



inside stadium-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

inside stadium 2-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

Miles 10 to 12 became extremely blurry since I had pulled a muscle and was running with a little bit of pain, but I was still determined on finishing strong and upright. We passed some more encouraging cheerleaders who were yelling that we were almost there.  And there it was…the back of the Hollywood Tower Hotel! Next came mile 12 and I could hear the cheering getting louder!

mile 12-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

We passed the back of California Adventure and rounded the corner that lead us to the Disneyland Hotel. I saw it! Mile 13! I felt my smile getting wider and my eyes get teary because I, the non runner, made it to mile 13.

mile 13-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

I saw my little sister close to the finish line and I heard her yell “You’re almost there! Take a selfie” WHAT!?! I turned and almost fell and thought GEEZE that would have been awful to be feet away from the finish line and fall!

running to finish-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon


I ran to the right to give Minnie a high-five and crossed the finish line SMILING!! I turned to see my sister and she was cheering her head off. My sister is my inspiration for running! I ran this race for her! She is the runner in our family, but sadly, she was attacked by dog and injured one of the discs in her lower back. I ran this race because right now she can’t. I also ran this race because I wanted to prove to myself that I could! And Disney made it more magical. I received my medal and just couldn’t stop staring at it. I met up with my family and the waterworks started! 13.1 miles! Not a lot of people can say that they ran a half marathon!

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with medal-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

I am now a half marathoner and I am so happy that runDisney was my first! It was such an amazing event! All the soreness and pain that is caused by training is so worth it at the end. I wanted to pick my favorite part of the race but the whole race was my favorite part. From start to finish. If you think you can’t do, you CAN! And once you cross that finish line and receive your medal, you will be so happy that you signed up!

I have signed up for the Avenger Half Marathon in November and I can happily say that I have become obsessed with running. I feel the strength in my legs and lungs. I will continue to run and train until I can cross that finish line with my sister.


I am a runner!! Yup, I said it.  See you all at the starting line!

i did it-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon


Celissa has been a lover of Disney since she first kicked in her mothers tummy 29 years ago. She now enjoys running and hopes to run along side her sister in the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon. She hopes to one day work for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank,Ca. She has amazing support from her mom, dad, sister and husband.

Mission to Marathon: Preparing a Training Plan & July Schedule

We have a great new series here on RAD called Mission to Marathon!!  I’m happy to welcome Hannah Suhr as a new monthly contributor…you may remember her from her Lessons Learned from the Walt Disney World Marathon earlier this year.  Hannah will be sharing her training and travel tips as she preps for the 2015 Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge.  This is going to be an excellent resource for all of you getting ready for any races you may have coming up.  Hannah is super organized and has great ideas on how to stay on track!  I’m thrilled she is here…please join me in welcoming Hannah!  


runDisney makes putting together a training plan super easy. If you aren’t familiar, just check out and under the training tab you will find training plans for Jeff Galloway’s walk/run method. If you are a beginner, this a great program to follow because it is easy to understand and gives you step-by-step guides for what to do.

If you aren’t running Disney (hey, not ALL races are Disney races), you can find similar training programs online through Hal Higdon, Runners World and many other sources. Some plans cost money. I don’t pay for a plan since I feel comfortable enough making my own. But, if you feel like you need it, go for it. Just make sure its reputable before you shell out the dough.

Short post, right? Nope.

While the training plans you can find online can be followed point-by-point and help you achieve the goal you want to achieve, they are not customized for your needs, schedule, experience, etc. If you are okay with that, then by all means. But I like to make it my own.

Here is how I put together a training plan:

1 – Research. I look at all the different options out there and see what they have in common and what differs. For a marathon, training plans for beginners or amateur runners can vary quite a bit. Many take you up to 20 miles for your longest long run, while others go beyond the 26 mile marker. Some have three days a week of running, others have four or five. Some incorporate cross-training, others leave that up to you to figure out. And, very few discuss nutrition (but that’s another post, for sure).

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For me, I either print out various plans or make a comparison chart on paper or in excel.

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2 – Consider your schedule. Do you work a 9 to 5 job? Work weekends? Gotta get up early? Take a look at what your normal weekly schedule is and then compare that to the different training plans. If you find one that works well with your schedule and you’re comfortable with the plan, then go for it, just follow it directly. I’m willing to bet that you won’t find one that fits perfectly and you’ll need to make some adjustments to suit your needs.

For me, I have the opportunity to train with my Team in Training team on Saturday mornings so I like to keep my long run on that day since I know I’ll have company. I also know my weeknight schedule is hectic so I need to keep my workouts as quick and effective as possible.  I also know that I really need to work on improving my strength (specifically my core) in order to improve my running and avoid injury.

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3 – Put it all together. This is where it gets fun. Most plans have you running 3 or 4 days a week and cross training 2 or 3 days. I start by scheduling my long runs. For me, Saturday and Sunday are best so I fit them in there. Then fill in your shorter, speed runs, to suit your schedule. If you’re doing 3 short runs, try to space them out so they aren’t three days in a row. Break things up to give your muscles a break and allow yourself some recovery time so that you won’t burn-out.


I am using the runDisney Goofy Challenge, Race and a Half training plan as my base for my overall plan and as guidance for my long run distances. What is nice is that my husband can modify the plan very simply by skipping the Saturday run (swapping for some strength training, yoga or a rest day) on weeks I am running four days and then do his long run on Sunday with me.

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My weeks will generally look like this:

Monday  – Cross training (strength –  I have been liking the Tone It Up routines lately, but also use the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises to put together my own routines).

Tuesday – Run 30-45 mins; Speed work/Interval training & 20 mins focused strength training

Wednesday – Cross training (strength)

Thursday – Run 30-34 mins; Speed work/interval training & 20 mins focused strength training

Friday – Cross training (yoga/stretch/light strength)

Saturday – Long Run & stretch

Sunday –  Long Run & stretch

Notice I added stretching into my schedule on several days. I need a reminder to stretch. It’s important. If you aren’t good at stretching, just add it to your schedule!

Here’s my July Run Schedule:

1 – Week of 6/30: Tuesday and Thursday 30 mins; Saturday 3 miles

2 – Week of 7/7: Tuesday and Thursday 30 mins; Saturday 4 miles

3 – Week of 7/14: Tuesday and Thursday 30 mins; Saturday 3 miles

4 – Week of 7/21: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 5.5 miles

5 – Week of 7/28: Tuesday and Thursday 45 mins; Saturday 3 miles

How do you put together a training plan?


Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run).  She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.

Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run Recap

I’m excited to welcome Sarah Norris from Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free in WDW back for another runDisney 5K recap!  Today she takes us along on the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, which was her first race ever!  I’m beyond proud of Sarah for completing her first race and I know you will be too…

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be running a race, I probably would have looked at you like you were nuts. The idea of running used to be a completely foreign concept to me, but this past year – as many New Year’s resolutions are started – I wanted to try what I thought to be an unattainable fitness goal. I have to admit that running scared me, but I was quickly encouraged by Sarah who was inspiring me with her own running. Like Sarah, I also suffer from IBD and it was so inspiring to see her pursuing her fitness goals and dreams. She really did give me the courage to pursue my running.  (Thanks so much!!!)

I decided to sign up for the Happy Haunted 5K held during the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Race Weekend. A 5K seemed like a reasonable goal and with my training using Jeff Galloway’s walk/run method, I was ready to embark on a journey with running! I eagerly anticipated this race and was excited when the big day finally came.


The Happy Haunted 5K for the 2013-2014 race season took place in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It was considered a “trail run” meaning that it took place partially on a trail surrounding the perimeter of the complex. The race was scheduled for 7:30 a.m.

The day before the race, I headed over to the expo center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pick up my bib, race shirt, and check out the expo. Some of my favorite fitness places were there, like Sparkle Athletic (they have awesome sparkle skirts!), Fit2Run Fitness store and of course official merchandise. I got to the expo around 12:20 p.m. on Friday, and the expo center opened at noon. It was already really busy there! Of course, later I heard that this wasn’t bad at all, but as a first timer, I was definitely not sure what to expect. I waited in line outside to get into the center for about 10 minutes, and then they let me in.

In my personal opinion, the expo seemed rather small (smaller than I expected) and there were not a lot of booths. Because this is a smaller runDisney event the bib pick-up was also held in the Jostens Center as well. As I would learn later, bib & packet pick-up is typically housed in the HP Field House next door. I heard someone say that there were about 14,000 runners at the Tower of Terror Ten Miler and 5,000 at the Happy Haunted 5K.


Because bib & packet pickup were housed in the same facility, it was a little crammed. Thankfully, I was so excited to see it all the long line didn’t faze me. Once I got my bib, I got into the line to get my race t-shirt. I wasn’t planning on wearing this for the race, but I did want to make sure I picked it up. It was a really cute shirt too and makes for a great souvenir. While the packet pick-up and t-shirt lines were long, perhaps the longest lines were at the official race merchandise station. I have heard that they often run out of the merchandise, so it’s best to get there early. I have to say, based on the lines I believe that is probably true!


I tried to take it easy the day before the race, but I admit I was too excited! I was thrilled to see Sarah at her RAD meetup that afternoon and catch up and chat with lots of runDisney enthusiasts. There’s just something really special about other runDisney folks. I also got to enjoy dinner with some blog readers and just enjoy the evening. Early bedtime was mandatory.

My family & I got up at 5:30 a.m. and got to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex around 6:15 a.m. That gave us time to get in, look around, and get settled. We got to see all the fun entertainment, though I didn’t get a photo with Mickey who was greeting runners in his festive Halloween garb. Rudy Novotny and John Pelkey were busily keeping the race crowd pumped up with lots of music and fun, though I have to admit I’m never quite ready for dance music at 6:30 a.m. At about 7 a.m., I headed into the runners only section where the corrals were while my family waited outside. I was placed in corral C which was the middle of the road for corral placement. The corrals at this race were A-F, so I was glad I wasn’t dead last. They base corral placement on your time of registration, not your pace which is nice.


At 7:30 a.m. we had one spooooky surprise! The headless horseman came bounding through the stadium, at full tilt too. This is not the slow trot that the Headless Horseman does during MNSSHP! It was really cool to see and the music was just awesome! Once the Headless Horseman was off…ha literally with his head…it was time for corral A to go through. Then, soon came the time for corral C to head off. This was it! My family caught a great video of me leaving. I tried to stay to the side 1) because I’m slow and 2) because my family was over in that direction.


The race take-off went really smoothly I thought. There was minimal bottlenecking. The track was really good, so it was nice to run on. Once we ran through a portion of the track, we headed into wooded paths. These were definitely both fun & challenging. The sand on the paths can make it harder to run, especially if you aren’t used to running in sand. The paths weren’t too horribly narrow and thankfully, it was light outside so you could see well. Despite the tough trail for a newer runner, I felt really good and ran the entire first two miles—something I had not even done at home, as I was still utilizing walk/run in my running. It felt really empowering to be other with other runners of all levels and just out there having a good time. It was also a really hot and humid Florida fall day, so I made sure to take it easy on my pace and not push it. I also made sure to stop at the 2 water stations to drink. I knew that would be important given the heat.


Once you hit the last stretch of the race, you head back to the track again. There were tons of photographers there taking official photos. There were also a lot of opportunities on the trail and track to take photos with Disney characters, some villains and some in Halloween costumes. I didn’t get one photo with a character on this race. I was nervous I would be too slow and be swept by the race sweepers but thankfully, I finished right about the middle pace, clocking in around 55 minutes. It was amazing to see how people just cheer you on through these races and encourage you. From the fantastic volunteers to the folks watching, each of them went out of their way to cheer everyone on!


As soon as I finished my race, I made sure to get my medal (which was adorable), my water, banana, and fitness box. It’s nice that Disney provides these to runners after they finish. One thing I learned as someone with dietary restrictions (I can’t have gluten or dairy in additions to my Crohn’s disease restrictions), that I needed to bring some of my running nutritional support from home. I also enjoyed a big breakfast at Kona Café after the race!

As far as theming and organization, this race was really well done. The Halloween touches and overall ambiance really made this race special, and I was really pleased that this was my first runDisney race experience. Disney really knows how to put on a race, and I have to say, I officially have the runDisney bug now!

Make sure to read Sarah’s recap of her second race, the Jingle Jungle 5K, and cheer her on in January for the Disney Family Fun Run 5K!

On The Road To Disney Parks: runDisney Visits Atlanta!

I’ve been a HUGE fan of the Be Our Guest Podcast for at least 4 years now.  Not only is the show a great way to fill that Disney void between trips, but the community is like nothing else!  Everyone is beyond friendly and supportive, and there are a bunch of runners in the community as well!  So when I saw that one of the hosts of the show, Rikki Niblett, was lucky enough to get into the first runDisney Meet Up on the road in Atlanta, I reached out to her to see if she’d cover the event for RAD.  I’m so glad she agreed because she wrote up this awesome recap of the event.  This got me so excited for future runDisney events around the country!  Take it away Rikki!

I am not a runner.  I don’t pretend to be.  Running has never been something that I’ve been interested in.  Matter of fact, I’ve always said that I don’t run unless someone is chasing me.  At Disney races, I’ve always been a member of the chEAR squad. I love to support the real runners, but that’s as far as I like to take things.  (Heck, I even married a runner and while he was out doing “fun” runs around the neighborhood, I would sit at home happily on the couch with my iPad in my hands and the TV on.)

So, I bet you’re asking yourself…how did this non-runner get signed up to attend the first stop in the runDisney On The Road To Disney Parks Atlanta meet up?

For that story, we have to go back two years ago, back to 2011.  You see, a friend of mine’s daughter was supposed to run the (then) Disney Halloween 5K, which was tied to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  With no training, what-so-ever, I said I would run it, did so, and thus started my running relationship with runDisney.

2011 Race

I hadn’t done a race since then, at least until this past July.  My best friends are all runDisney participants, so when we were all onboard the Disney Dream, they wanted to run the Castaway Cay 5k.  I begrudgingly got up early to go run around the island.  Run…heck…I walked it…came in last, but I still got my medal!  So, here’s this non-runner that’s now two runDisney events.

Castaway Cay 5k

Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago.  My one bestie told me that she’d seen that Disney was going to bring their first ever On The Road To Disney Parks events to my city, Atlanta!  I decided to stalk the website with every intention of just signing up my husband.  Once we sent his email off to be entered to be chosen for the event, I thought about it and decided…you know…it’s only two miles…I’d just done three a couple of months ago…I should sign up too.  So, I did.

A few hours later, the list of names was announced and we were both on it.  Which is when panic mode set it.  Um…I was going to have to do this two mile fun run.

So, I logged onto my Pinterest account where I’d recently and ironically saved information on the Couch To 5k method.  I better start “practicing,” as I like to call it.  So, out I went, every day for practice runs.  I went from someone who could barely run 2 minutes to being able to get in 7 full minutes of running right before the event took place!  I’d officially run a little over a mile in my neighborhood during my practices and…I was kind of liking it.  I was ready for the event!


The On the Road To Disney Parks event took place on Saturday, November 16.  My husband and I got super up early and drove down to Turner Field, where the Atlanta Braves play.  Check in started at 6:15 am and as soon as we walked in, we could see the large runDisney logo emblazoned on the video screen.  We checked in, got our shirts with the awesome logo on the back and waited, snapping pictures and meeting up with friends, both new and old.


The event started off with an introduction from Michael Cain, who represented the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Then we learned about Good Form Running from Brian with New Balance.  After that, Mickey Mouse came out to help cheer us on as it was now time to run!

Mickey's Here to ChEAR!

Mickey’s Here to ChEAR!

They split us up into two groups.  Group one was full of the runners, where as group two would be going out with Mr. Jeff Galloway himself to try out the 20/20 running method.  (Running for 20 seconds/walking for 20 seconds.)  I of course, chose the Galloway method, since I certainly couldn’t run the whole time.  Group two would also feature the 2008/2012 British Olympian Barbara Parker! (Who I kind of ran with for a few minutes during the event…how cool?  I can now say that I’ve run with an Olympian!)

Running With Jeff Galloway ©Disney

Running with Jeff Galloway!

I will admit, personally, this fun run was really hard for me.  It could be because of a couple of reasons.  One was that I’d never trained like that, so it was difficult for me to get a handle on it.  The second reason why I had a hard time doing the 20/20 method is because the majority of the runners participating in the event were also doing this method.  This meant that there was quite a large crowd all running together and by the time the front runners were starting running, we were just starting to walk…it was incredibly difficult to keep the correct pace.  I’m not knocking the method.  I’m sure it’s a wonderful one to use.  But for me, a new runner, it was incredibly difficult to get the hang of.  (Maybe I need to go outside and practice with it around my neighborhood to get the real sense of how it’s supposed to work.)

Despite how hard the running ended up being for me, I had an absolute blast!  It was kind of a chilly and foggy morning, but none of that mattered once we got on the road!  We started by running through the streets of Atlanta, going through a portion of the area that was used in the 1996 Olympics and past the Olympic Rings (with an Olympian!  Crazy!).  We then made it to the Capitol building, running all around it, then circling back to Turner Field.


running through rings

Once we made it into Braves country, we started to run inside the stadium, through the back tunnels.  This was fun!  Then, we turned a corner and saw the light, literally, as we could see our path lead us to the field.  Once we got on the field, we started taking photos in the dugout (I’m a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan, so I made a joke about the Braves postseason run…though can’t say we’re the champions either…) and then we got to meet up with Miss Minnie Mouse herself.

in the dugout

with Minnie

We ran the rest of the way, around the warning track and made our way back to the main entryway for the park.  Here, runDisney had a fantastic breakfast for us that featured yogurt, cereal, a spinach and egg quiche, coffee, fruit, and water.

Once settled in, the guest speakers series started.  First off, Tammy Jacobson, marketing area manager for runDisney talked about a new hashtag that will be introduced called #WhyIRunDisney.  People will be encouraged to submit their own stories of why they run Disney and they may just want to share your story.

Jeff Galloway then discussed his run/walk method and gave encouragement that truly anyone can run in the big races.  Diet Diva Tara, runDisney’s nutritionist, got on stage to discuss proper nutrition and the importance of fueling up for runners.  She talked about how gaining wait while training can happen if you over indulge because you know you ran.

Diet Diva Tara

Diet Diva Tara

After that was the part that most of the crowd was excited for…the representatives from New Balance.  While they didn’t show the actual shoe, they did give us a sneak peek at which Disney character would be featured on the heel.  (Sorcerer Mickey will be on the men’s version, and pretty in pink Minnie will be on the women’s option.)  The shoes will be the same model, but an updated version of the 360.  Also announced was that there would be a kids shoe that would correspond with the adult version.

2014 Men's Shoe Design

2014 Men’s Shoe Design

2014 Women's Shoe Design

2014 Women’s Shoe Design

Olympian Barbara Parker then got up and spoke about what it’s like to train for the Olympics and she also announced that she was pregnant during the race that day.  She shared a few tips on how to properly run while expecting.

Barbara Parker & New Balance

Olympian Barbara Parker & New Balance

Finally, from Runner’s World, Warren Greene discussed that they are bringing back their challenge to the 2015 runDisney events.

Warren Greene from Runner's World

Warren Greene from Runner’s World

We all then got to take photos with Mickey and Minnie together!  Once it was over, we received some awesome swag bags, with a water bottle, Cliff and Luna bars, a gift card for Puma, and more.

With Mickey and Minnie

It was a truly awesome event that I am so, so glad I got to participate in.  If one of the One The Road To Disney Parks events comes near you, I strongly suggest you try to sign up!  They did a phenomenal job.

Personally, I believe I am living proof of what runDisney’s mantra is.  That anyone can run.  While I still wouldn’t call myself a runner, I have to say, I am excited to get out and go running now.  I can’t say that I’ll be doing the next Disney race I can sign up for, but I can say that I’m ready to get more active, a Disney race may be in the cards though.  You never know.  As for right now, I think I’m going to head for a run.  Thanks runDisney!  You officially worked your magic on me!

Thanks so much Rikki for this great recap!  I love to hear when someone else gets inspired to get out there and get fit from a runDisney event…that’s what it’s all about!

Where do you want to see the next On The Road To Disney Parks event ?

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