Posts Tagged by rundisney meet up

runDisney 2013 Wine & Dine Meet Up!

My running buddy Jim DeMarco was one of the lucky few who got into the very first runDisney Meet Up to be held at night over Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  He was awesome enough to recap the whole event for RAD and it looks like it was a blast!  Take it away Jim…  

Well, it was my third Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend, and I was extremely excited (and nervous) as the time got closer.   The week before the race though, something great happened…I was one of only 125 people lucky enough to be chosen for the runDisney Wine & Dine Meet Up!!!   This was my second meet up (first one was in Disneyland in August), but this was also the first nighttime meet up!

The meet up took place the Thursday before the race.   Check in was in front of Epcot at 7:00 pm, where we received a great maroon runDisney shirt, as well as a Fast Pass for Test Track!  Something to do until we had to reconvene at 8:45 pm!   What was at 8:45 pm you may ask?   Exclusive priority viewing for Illuminations!!!!   I haven’t seen Illuminations in years, and boy, did I miss it!  All 125 of us got to mingle for a few minutes before 9:00 pm and the main show took place!

01 W&D MeetUp

After Illuminations ended and cleared out, we all marched over to the American Garden Pavilion to have some vegan chicken skewers, cookies and vegan wine (who knew there was vegan wine?  Not me!!!).

After we all got to nosh on some food, we sat down for the main presentation.   Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director at Walt Disney World, acted as MC to introduce the main guests!

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First up was Jeff Galloway and Diet Diva Tara Gidus (Fitness Consultant for runDisney).   They offered some great tips for fitness, and how to have the best run possible!

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After Jeff and Tara, we were treated to a presentation by two of the chefs and a wine connoisseur for Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival!   They talked about their favorite foods and wines, and even guided us on what vegan wine actually was!

04 W&D MeetUp

Then came my favorite part – the New Balance folks took the stage to talk about the 2014 runDisney running shoes!   While we didn’t get to actually see the sneakers, we did get to see a video, which showcased new running shoe inserts coming in 2014.  The inserts will commemorate the races of those special weekends!   Even the box that the shoes will come in has been redesigned for 2014, featuring Mickey on the cover!!!  (Get a sneak peak of the new shoe designs here!)

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After the New Balance presentation, we got to have pictures taken with the BIG CHEESE!!!   (here’s one of me and the head honcho!).

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Now it was officially time to do some running!   We were split into two groups, straight running and the other group was Run/Walk (Jeff Galloway method).   We did one and ½ loops around World Showcase and then headed to the big fountain in Future World for a group photo (BIG GROUP!!!)

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Well, the clock was about to strike midnight…and what does one do during the Wine & Dine half weekend at midnight?  Have a champagne toast!

08 W&D MeetUp

Overall, it was a great meet up, got to meet some great people and see old friends, and spark the flame for the weekend!    runDisney meet ups are amazing!  If you ever have the lucky opportunity to attend one, get pumped for some fun and surprises!!!    Cheers!

A Mad runDisney Meet Up Through Disneyland!

To say that my first trip out to Disneyland was magical is an understatement, but who knew it would be mad?!  Well runDisney did of course!  With the new Disneyland 10K theme focused around Alice in Wonderland, it was only fitting that the runDisney meet up theme would be centered around the film as well.

As with most runDisney meet ups, the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend meet up started at the crack of dawn.  Over 50 runners met under the Sorcerer’s Hat at the Disneyland Hotel bright and early to run our way through the parks, we must be mad to do that!

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runDisney BFF Amanda & I!

runDisney BFF Amanda & I!

We made our way over to Downtown Disney to get the low down on the run from Tony Morreale of Disney Sports and get some great tips on good form running from the folks at New Balance.

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04 RD-DL-Meetup-New-Balance

Let’s Make Excellence Happen  is the motto when it comes to running and New Balance, and they are dedicated to helping runners achieve their goals in a safe and healthy way.  We were given the four main goals of good form running, which are:

  • Posture
  • Mid-Foot
  • Cadence
  • Lean

They came up with a great mnemonic to remember this by: Party’s Make Cinderella Late…genius!  We walked through each goal and were encouraged to try to use these tips as we ran through the parks.  Easy for them to say…I knew I would be distracted by all the Disney goodness on our run 🙂  Luckily there is a video available to brush up on good form running while at home.

Then guess who interrupted our lesson??  The White Rabbit of course!  And as usual, he was LATE!  But what else were us Disney runners to do, but chase him??

05 RD-DL-Meetup-White-Rabbit

So we took off in pursuit of the White Rabbit and into Disneyland, but obviously I had to stop for a pic with Joey Fatone first…we did become BFFs at the WDW Marathon meet up after all 😉


Off we ran through Downtown Disney and into Disneyland Park.  Even though I had visited the park for the 2 days prior, there was something magical about being there at dawn.

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And then running down Main Street USA with Joey Fatone (totally surreal for this ‘Nsync fan) and through Sleeping Beauty Castle made it even more magical.

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08 RD-DL-Meetup-Castle

As we entered Fantasyland, I noticed the group in front of me slowing down and wondered what was happening.  Then I saw Alice and was so excited for a fun photo op!

010 RD-DL-Meetup-Alice

What I wasn’t expected was that we were going to be able to ride the Mad Tea Party!!  As a Walt Disney World native, I must say I LOVE this version of the attraction.  It is out in open and the lanterns are so whimsical.  I often find it difficult to get someone to ride the tea cups with me in WDW because of all the spinning, so I was excited to get to experience this in Disneyland with no wait!

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09 RD-DL-Meetup-Sarah-Amanda

But what made the experience even better was riding with these folks:

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How many celebrities can you cram into a tea cup?

Yes, there is video…

I totally could’ve stayed on there all day, but we had to move on.  We ran through Tomorrowland and back down Main Street towards Disney California Adventure.  Do I look excited??

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We headed towards Cars Land, which was equally as beautiful in the early morning hours, and then on to Hollywood Land and what else but the Mad T Party area!

013 RD-DL-Meetup-Carsland

There we were greated once again by Alice who was now joined by the Mad Hatter.  I LOVE this character…he is always so fun to interact with 🙂

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We were welcomed by Bob Hitchcock of Disney Sports and treated to a continental breakfast and some much needed coffee.

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Bob Hitchcock

Then the highlight of the morning…something I totally was not expecting.  Bob and Faron Kelly of runDisney Marketing unveiled the new runDisney medals for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon Weekends!  O.M.G.  they are gorgeous!  I can’t wait to get that new Wine & Dine medal in 2 short months!!!

017 RD-DL-Meetup-MedalsTo say the group was excited is an understatement.  Bob and Faron fielded questions about upcoming events and any new races that runDisney has planned, but didn’t give up too much.  Faron just eluded that runDisney is “efforting” new races…does this mean a Disneyland Paris race is in our future??  We can only hope!

Once we all composed ourselves, it was was time to move on to some other fun presentations.  First was a sneak preview of the new ABC series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland starting this fall.  Apparently this is a blending together of Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin, where Alice falls in love with the Genie…interesting!  I’m a big fan the show Once Upon a Time, so this is right up my alley.  Check out the official trailer here:

Next up was Cindy Lynch, the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon 1st place women’s finisher.  I always find it fascinating to hear from elite runners like this because I will NEVER be in their league, but they always offer great advice on how to improve you training and race routines.  Some tips Cindy offered are:

  • Interval runs, tempo runs and long runs are the essentials for race training.
  • Don’t forget to take in the scenery!
  • Roctane is great for fuel while running.  She takes one every 30 minutes.
  • While negative splits are always a goal, even she struggles with them.  (I’m glad it’s not just me!)
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Cindy Lynch

Official runDisney Nutritionist, Tara Gidus, spoke next on how to properly fuel for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge and how recovery in between the races will be the key to our success.  She also went on to tell a funny story about how someone recently called her a buzzkill on the runDisney blog because she broke the myth that just because you’re training doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want.  So if you ever run into Tara at a race, make sure to tell her she’s a buzzkill 😉

Tara Gidus

Tara Gidus

My favorite running coach, Jeff Galloway, shared his story of how he began running.  Who knew that super skinny Olympian was once a fat, lazy teenager??  I never would’ve guessed it!  Well he was until he joined his cross country team at the age of 13 that he began running.  He did it because he wanted to be part of a team, which is how he feels about runDisney events.  We are all part of one big team, encouraging each other along the way.  That couldn’t be more true.

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Jeff Galloway & Bob Hitchcok

Ali Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser, and Sean Astin (Goonies, Rudy, Lord of the Rings) continued with the motivational theme and their struggles with staying on track.  Ali finds motivation in races.  Once she is signed up for a race, it gives her that push to keep training even though she hates getting up in the morning.  She has even signed up for the Dopey Challenge in January!  Sean shared a wonderful story about running with his daughter and how the Galloway run/walk method helped to get her out there.  They have found what motivates them and stressed the importance of finding ours!

Ali Vincent

Ali Vincent

Sean Astin

Sean Astin

Joey Fatone, fresh off his VMA performace, finished the presentations by talking about his emotional journey completing the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge over the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend for his wife.  He also follows the Galloway run/walk method by doing a 1:1 ratio.  He even compared the excitement of finishing a race to the N’Sync reunion…interesting 🙂

Joey Fatone

Joey Fatone

No runDisney meet up would be complete without some great giveaways.  A few lucky attendees won the official runDisney New Balance sneakers, runDisney laptop cases, runDisney travel bags and even a race entry for the 2014 season!  Giveaway ALL the runDisney swag!

This was another fun and memorable event!  What a great way to get a completely different perspective on the parks as well as some very useful tips along the way.  It’s also a great way to meet your fellow runDisney enthusiasts…we’re all a bit mad in our own way 😉

Faith, Amanda & Myself

Faith, Amanda & Myself

Photo Courtesy of Disney Sports

Photo Courtesy of Disney Sports

Have you ever attended a runDisney Meet Up?  What speakers would you like to see there?

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this as media.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

2013 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, Oh the Fun We Had!

I hope that you’ve been following my Disneyland and Dumbo Double Dare adventure over the past few days through Twitter, Facebook & Instagram!  It has been an amazing trip and I have SO MUCH to share with you.  It’s been difficult for me to keep up with writing the past few days because of everything that has been going on, but be prepared to get bombarded with race recaps, the runDisney Meet Up, Disneyland dining, my experiences as a first timer and so much more!  Until then, here is just a preview of a few of the things I’ve been up to.

Seeing the tiny Sleeping Beauty’s Castle for the first time and falling in love with the quaintness of Fantasyland.


I was FINALLY reunited with my favorite motormanic, Mr. Toad!


Discovered my new favorite attraction anywhere – Hemlich’s Chew Chew Train!  I’m coming for you little animal crackers….


Ate and drank some incredible meals…whoa!



Attended the runDisney meet up and got to ride the Tea Cups with Joey Fatone!

Meet Up Group Shot


Ran a few races…a total of 21.3 miles in 3 days…and once again did it with my runDisney BFF Amanda!


I had tea with my friend Sid and Sean Astin following the Disneyland 10K…No big deal, right?!?!?!?!


I had a really fun meet-up as well!  It’s always fun to chat runDisney!!!


And the best part…ALL THESE MEDALS!!

2013 Medals

Thank you to everyone who I met this weekend for your encouragement and for everyone who followed along online and pushed me through some of the tough times.  I don’t only run for me, but I run for you and to show that with enough determination you can do anything, so matter your size, age, etc…!

Now, bring on the Tower of Terror 10-Miler!

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend runDisney Meet Up

The 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend certainly lived up to all expectations.  The entire resort seemed to be overtaken by runners…I have never seen so many in one place!!  To kick off the weekend, runDisney hosted one of their infamous meetups that I was lucky enough to be invited to.

I met up with Jenn from Eat, Sleep, Run Disney bright and early and we walked over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the 6:30 am check-in.  This was the largest meetup runDisney to date with over 100 people in attendance.  It was great to see so many fellow runDisney fans, catch up with old friends and meet new ones!  We were all given white runDisney t-shirts upon arrival, which was a nice change from the usual black shirts.  Unfortunately, there were cotton and not tech shirts, which weren’t the best for that super humid morning.  But beggars can’t be choosers, I am happy with any runDisney shirt 🙂

Pre Meet Up

Mickey, Donald & Goofy were all there in their awesome track suits and as good Disney fans do, we all lined up to get our pictures taken.  I absolutely LOVE the Studios and it was great to get this photo op on an empty Hollywood Boulevard.

Me & the Big Cheese!

Me & the Big Cheese!

Goofy's Warming Up for the Run

Goofy’s Warming Up for the Run

We were greeted by Tony, Bob & Darrell from Disney Sports and given instructions on how the 2.5 mile run portion of the meetup was going to go.  There were 2 groups, one for strict runners and one for run/walk.  The runners were going to keep a 9-10 minute mile pace and Bob was leading the pack.  However, I heard it was more of an 8 minute mile!  The run/walkers were led by Jeff Galloway and they were doing 30 second intervals.

The runDisney Team

The runDisney Team

I had unfortunately been battling a nasty cold in the days leading up to the meet.  In fact, I had a fever of 100.2 just the day before!  In order to save myself for the marathon a few days later, I opted to not run that morning.  I was bummed to not get the experience of running through the Studios and meeting the characters, but my health had to come first.  Good news is I got some fun pics of the Galloway group starting off!

The Galloway Group

The Galloway Group

Look at some of the characters they encountered along the way!

Minnie still looks fancy in her running gear

Minnie still looks fancy in her running gear

High fives with Pluto!Photo Courtesy of runDisney

High fives with Pluto!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Woody & Buzz!Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Woody & Buzz!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

The second half of the meet was held at Lights, Motors, Action!  I walked over there with the rest of the runDisney staff and waited for the runners to arrive.  It was a pretty cool entrance.

Lights, Motors, Action!

Lights, Motors, Action!

Here comes Bob leading the runners

Here comes Bob leading the runners

Darrell, Heather & Jenn

Darrell, Heather & Jenn

Galloway Group

Galloway Group

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill truck was there to provide breakfast sandwiches for everyone.  They looked delicious, but sadly I couldn’t have one because they all had eggs.  Egg allergy fail!  🙁

ESPN Grill

We were once again welcomed by Bob Hitchcock and Tammy Jacobson of runDisney, but they were quickly interrupted by none other than Joey Fatone!  He made a grand entrance and came cruising in on the “director’s truck” from the show.  Joey was gearing up to run the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge in place of his wife who recently sustained an injury.  He answered many questions from the group and admitted to barely training and being very nervous about the weekend ahead.  He also said that N’Sync won’t be getting back together, which was a serious bummer 🙁

Joey Fatone & Bob Hitchcock

Joey Fatone & Bob Hitchcock

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Earlier in the week, runDisney announced a new partnership with New Balance making them their official running shoe.  Members of the New Balance team were on hand to give us an overview on what to look for in a proper running shoes and the different varieties they have to offer.  They also talked about what went into designing the new runDisney shoes that were available for a brief time at the Expo.

New Balance Demo

New Balance Demo

Since this was the 20th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon, it was expected that there would be a few elite runners on hand.  The expo had some amazing speakers lined up for that afternoon and I was excited to see many of them at the meet up.  They offered some great tips for distance running and answered questions from the audience.  Bart Yasso admitted that his favorite race costume was when he dressed up like a penguin for the Marathon du Medoc in France where there are 23 wine stops along the way.  Now that’s my kind of marathon!

Next up was former NFL linebacker Eddie Mason.  He spoke about the importance of focusing on core strength to bring more balance to the body and how Cigna is leading this charge.  Core strength is something many runners overlook, but can be just as important as getting those long runs in.  He also talked about how you need to listen to your body and rest if needed.  You need to let your body heal in order to get stronger.  Great tips!

Eddie Cigna

Eddie Mason

Our final speaker was Drew Carey who was supposed to run in the full marathon, but is recovering from a broken clavicle…ouch!  He told stories about his experience at the Disneyland Half Marathon, what really goes on at the Price is Right (spending WAY too much time on this topic!) and also admitted to hating Sounds Dangerous, the show he stars in at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  They really need to get rid of that already!

Drew Carey

Drew Carey

Bob introduced one last special guest before the morning ended, Adriano Bastos.  Bastos is a seven time winner of the Walt Disney World Marathon and was going for his 8th win this year.  He adorned with numerous Disney tattoos and gets a new Mickey on his forearm for each race he has won.  Very cool!


Adriano Bastos

Before we left for the day, the Fab 5 came back out and we were able to get more photos.  I just love their running outfits!  All of the elite runners and celebrities were also on hand for photos.  Joey Fatone obviously had the longest line 🙂

The Fab 5!!

The Fab 5!!

Me & Pluto!

Me & Pluto!

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Joey Fatone & I are BFF!
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Running Legends Bart Yasso & Dick Beardsley with lil ole me :)

Running Legends Bart Yasso & Dick Beardsley with lil ole me 🙂

runDisney always puts on great events and this certainly did not disappoint.  What a great way to kick off marathon weekend and get everyone excited for the big races ahead!

Who would you have been most excited to meet at the runDisney meet up?


Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

RAD Reads and Weekly Review: November 18, 2012

What a whirlwind few weeks!  First we got hit by Hurricane Sandy and were out of power for 6 days.  Not only was it difficult living in a 55 degree dark house, but I had to reschedule some large events at work due to the storm causing a lot of unwanted stress.  Then Winter Storm Athena blew through dumping about 8 inches of snow on CT and knocking our power out again fror about 6 hours.  Just what I needed the day before I was leaving for Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend!!  Sad first world Disney problems, I know…I just really needed this trip and I was scared I wasn’t going to make it.  But I did make it and it was epic 🙂

My full Wine & Dine race recap is coming up this week, but in the meantime you can read about the runDisney meet up and the Health & Fitness Expo from the weekend.  There were a lot of great posts from Wine & Dine meet up from my fellow bloggers Disney Every Day, Live, Run, Grow, We Run Disney, According To Kelly, Outrunning the Monorail, Running Toward the Prize, Running With Wishes and Running With Sass.  Make sure to pay them a visit and see what they thought of that amazing day.

With all of this craziness going on, I’ve been completely off schedule over here at RAD, but I’m hoping to get back on track this week.  Thankfully I’ve been able to catch up with some of my favorite blogs this week, so here are some RAD Reads I found for you:

Running & Fitness Posts
Fit2Flex, who was one of the announcers at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, has a fun recap of Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K where she set an amazing PR of 25:10.  WOW!

Food. Fitness. Fantasy. takes us on the journey of finding the right running shoes, bloody heels and all.

SkinnyRunner ran the Ragnar Las Vegas relay, which is 197 miles.  The team was the 1st female team to finish in just under 26 hours and 11th overall…amazing.

Running Wild(er) recaps the Pretty Muddy race series.  This looks like a really fun event!

The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail (one of my favorite blogs!) has made a promise to her body and many others are joining her in the Strong is Sexy Challenge.  Let’s all prove that being strong IS sexy and join the movement!

Disney Posts
Eating WDW dives into my FAVORITE item from this year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival, the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies from Australia…the BEST!

Travel with Rick has a Magic Kingdom “old school vs. new school” culinary throw down with Smoked Meats and Frozen Treats.  Who do you think will win??

Imagineering Disney takes us inside the Walt Disney World Maintenance Shops.  Prepare to see a one armed Captain Hook!

Disney Bound once again finds an adorable outfit inspired by Marie of the Aristocats!

Disney Every Day goes on a tour of the room we recently stayed in at the Boardwalk Inn…what an amazing hotel!

The Disney Food Blog, with the help of Zannaland, provides a detailed review of lunch at the brand new Be Our Guest Restaurant.  I can’t wait to eat here!

This Happy Place Blog was lucky to attend a 15th anniversary celebration of The Lion King on Broadway.  I’m still dying to see this show.

Weekly Review
I’m happy to report that my ankle held up and my shin splints (thanks to KT Tape!) subsided during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  My body is definitely getting stronger because my recovery was very quick compared to my previous half marathons.  (It’s still crazy to me that half marathons is plural there!!!)  When I got back from WDW, I headed straight for my CrossFit box because I really missed lifting heavy things.  I got an awesome 93# PR on power cleans this week and one of my coaches told me I could do so much more.  I just need to get past the mental block of lifting a lot of weight.  I left encouraged and ready to keep trying!! Have I mentioned how much I LOVE CrossFit?!? 😉

Here’s my full week of workouts and to see my full WODs, head over to my page on dailymile.

Sunday: Finished the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at 1:30 am 🙂
Monday: CrossFit – 1 hour – Rowing & Thrusters
Tuesday: CrossFit – 1 hour – Power Cleans & Romanian Dead Lifts
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: CrossFit – 1 hour – EMOM Night
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest

This week I have to pick up my running again.  I’ve signed up for the Team #runDisney virtual 5K challenge over Thanksgiving weekend where all the proceeds will go to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so I’m really excited about that.  But I need to start logging those miles.  I sound like a broken record every week with my lack of marathon training, but I’m still struggling with the motivation.  Any tips??

One last thing…I’m trying to put together a video montage of photos from the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  Thank you to those who have submitted so far, but I still need more!!  Please email me at with photos you have from the weekend and I will include them in the project.  I will be posting it here on RAD in the next few weeks.  Thanks!!

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