Posts Tagged by sean astin

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.

kt tape-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

jeff galloway-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

sean astin-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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.

goofy mirror-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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.

incredibles babsy-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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.

feris wheel-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon


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).

birds and me-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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!


me and castle-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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!!



mile 5-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon



cars 2-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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!

finish yay-2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon

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.

2013 Dumbo Double Dare Recap Part I – Disneyland 10K

001 DL10K-Castle

I was really enjoying my first trip out to Disneyland, but after 2 days of park touring, then a long day at the runDisney meet up, the expo, park hopping and dinner on Friday, my legs were TIRED.  My feet felt a bit swollen and I was getting slightly nervous for the 2 days of running that were ahead of me.  I did almost 10 miles of walking that day alone!

002 DL10K - FitbitMy friend Danielle had told me about a great way she helps her tired feet before races.  Lie on the floor with your legs up the wall for about 10 minutes to let all the blood distribute back into your body.  It has a similar effect to compression socks.  So that’s what I did before bed and boy did that help!  This will be a go to for me before every race going forward!

003 DL10K-Tired-Feet

My alarm went off way too early, as it does for most Disney races, I went through my usual pre-race routine of tape, tea, body glide, etc… and headed downstairs to catch the bus.  I was staying at the Hilton Anaheim which is next to the Convention Center.  The ART (Anaheim Resort Transportation) was very convenient from here and all runners and spectators had complimentary service Friday – Sunday…score!

01 DL10K-On-BusI ran into my friend Liliane on the bus (check out her great recap of the weekend here!) and we walked over to the Disneyland Hotel to meet Amanda (read her awesome recap here).  On the way, we spotted these interesting shoes…was she running the 10K in those??

Photo is a bit blurry, but I believe those are Kanga Jumps...

Photo is a bit blurry, but I believe those are Kangoo Jumps…odd

I found Amanda and we made our way over to the pre-race area to get some water and see what as going on over there.  Not much was happening so we decided to head to the corrals after meeting up with our other running buddy Sarah-Irene (Sid).  But there was no clear direction on where to go so we just followed the crowd…

03 DL10K-Start-Area

04 DL10K-Ready-to-RaceOh you want to go to the corrals??  So does everyone else.  It was like a heard of cattle trying to get to one tiny barn door.  I actually sat down for about 5 minutes because we just weren’t going anywhere.

04 DL10K-Traffic-to-CorralsThis was the first time runDisney has held a 5K and 10K race back-to-back, so it was expected that there would be some congestion.  I was actually surprised the transition ran as smoothly as it did.  However when we finally made it over to the corral area it the National Anthem had already started and the volunteers were just funneling us into any corral and we followed the crowd into D.

05 DL10K-CorralD

Which I’m really happy about because I ran into a bunch of my runDisney friends!  Check out the awesome costumes!

06 DL10K-Sarah-Pam


07 DL10K-Sarah-Kinnereth


08 DL10K-Dan

Daniel & the Cars Crew

Thanks for making me feel lame in my black running tank guys! 😉  Before I knew it we were at the starting line and the race had started!  We didn’t even here Carissa & Rudy count down our corral!

09 DL10K-Start-Line

runDisney Announcers Carissa & Rudy

runDisney Announcers Carissa & Rudy

I managed to start my watch and the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge had officially began!  Yikes!  What did I get myself into…  Oh look it’s Jillian & Kelly!

011 DL10K-Jillian-Kelly

Oh look it’s Daisy Duck!  Girl must have been HOT!

012 DL10K-DaisyDid I mention it was hot?  No?  Well it was HOT….Florida hot.  I was hopeful that this would be the one Disney race I would be able to run in cooler temperatures, but no such luck.  Bring on the humidity!

The first 2 miles were pretty uneventful as we ran past the convention center, my hotel and back up Harbor Boulevard towards the parks.  We entered Disney California Adventure through Carsland which is so gorgeous as the sun was rising.  Here we stopped for a quick character photo..basically because there was no line.  But I think this turned out to be one of my favorite race photos ever!

013 DL10K-CarslandSid & I stopped here for a quick bathroom break (LOVE Disney races for the real bathrooms!!!) and Amanda kept on going with the expectation that we would catch up.  As we were leaving Carsland, I noticed my friend Daniel sadly picking up one of his cone brethren that had been knocked over.  Perfect opportunity for a photo bomb!

014 DL10K-Photobomb

I look like a lunatic!

The course wound around Paradise Pier and all of the World of Color fountains were going.  Even though it was too light to see the color, it was a breathtaking sight!  Or was that just because I was running??

015 DL10K-Paradise-Pier

The course wound through Grizzly Peak, Condor Flats, into Hollywood Land and through a few backstage areas before heading to Disneyland Park.  I hadn’t been through many of these areas, so this was a great way to see the park for the first time.

016 DL10K-DCA

017 DL10K-Grizzly

018 DL10K-Hollywood

019 DL10K-Backstage

We had caught up with Amanda at this point and she had ran into Ashley from FiddleDeeMe who I was super excited to finally meet in person!  Girl had an awesome costume…she was one of Minnie’s Fly Girls!  I was happy to have the group back together as we entered into Disneyland…there’s nothing like running down Main Street USA with your friends.  🙂

020 DL10K-Entering-DL

Entering Disneyland

021 DL10K-Main-Street

Such a tiny castle!

After the hub, we entered Tomorrowland and were already at Mile 4!  This race was going by quickly!  From there we entered into more backstage areas where the Disneyland Railroad Steam Engine and the Monorail were waiting for us and honking their horns….super cool!

021 DL10K-Mile4

021 DL10K-Train

And look…animals!  They looked so tired and confused why they were out there, but it definitely made my morning.  Remember during the WDW Marathon when I hugged that goat and then smelled like goat?  Well I almost went in for a sheep hug but quickly flashed back to that moment and thought better of it.  So I just took their picture…cuties 🙂

022 DL10K-Animals


Sadly we had to leave the animals and keep moving.  We entered back into the park in Toontown and got a a great shot in front of It’s A Small World…I love the facade of the attraction here!

021 DL10K-Toontown

024 DL10K-Ladies

We headed into Fantasyland for my favorite part of any Disney race…a run through the castle!

Video fail as I was holding the camera upright, but you get the gist.  It’s definitely a much shorter run through and doesn’t have that great echo that Cinderella’s Castle does, but still pretty awesome!

025 DL10K-Sarah-Castle

From here we headed into Frontierland, through New Orleans Square and into Critter Country, another area I hadn’t been in yet!  The course went backstage again and out into Downtown Disney as were entered the home stretch.

My friend Cindy (my #1 running cheerleader!) had been texting me encouragement throughout the race.  During the WDW Marathon, she started texting me song lyrics to get me through some of those really hard miles.  It got my mind off the suck and helped me laugh along the way.  This has now become an awesome tradition that we keep up for every race I run and I always look forward to it.


She’s pretty awesome right?  I was so excited to see her at near the finish line cheering everyone on.  Cindy’s been battling an injury, but I hope to be running through Disney with her soon!

025 DL10K-Sarah-Cindy

And there it was…the finish line!  The first leg of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge was done baby!

026 DL10K-Finish-Line

028 DL10K-Medal

029 DL10K-Wristbands

This was nowhere near my fastest race, but it was probably the funnest!  Funnest…is that a word??  The course was great since most of it was run through the parks and running with my awesome friends meant we were laughing the whole way.

027 DL10K-Garmin-Time

The one downfall of this race was the lack of water stops.  There were only 3 stops and none of them had Powerade.  Given the high heat and humidity, this was definitely not enough.  Cast members were actually pointing to water fountains in the parks so people could fill up their bottles.  By the end of the race, I was seriously thirsty and was thrilled to see Powerade in the finisher area.  Even though it was the yucky blue flavor, I downed one whole bottle and grabbed another to take with me.

030 DL10K-Post-Race-Snacks

After we were sufficiently hydrated, it was time to head back to the hotel for a shower and a nap.  Sid and I took off through Downtown Disney towards the buses and were able to see some of the last runners coming through.  It was great to cheer them on for that last stretch!

031 DL10K-DTD-Race-Course

We also passed the Mile 6 marker which I saw during the race and thought was super cute because it was set like the Mad Tea Party.  There was a line during the race so we didn’t stop for photos, but now that the race was over it was the perfect time for one!  And look who had the same idea as we did…Sean Astin!  Sid asked if he’d take his picture with us and he was totally down…super cool guy!

Tea with Sean!

Tea with Sean!

So that’s 2 races with a Sean Astin pic (first was Princess this year)…maybe this will be come a race tradition!

Overall this was a great way to start the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.  This was my first 10k and I have to say that I really love the distance.  It still feels like a challenge, but it’s not as daunting as a half marathon.  I’m really excited that runDisney has added more 10Ks to their race weekends and I think it will be a great opportunity for new runners to take that next step before working into halves.

When I got back to the hotel, I showered and took a quick nap before heading back out to Downtown Disney for some lunch and my RAD Meet Up!  Big thanks to everyone who stopped by…I LOVE LOVE LOVE meeting all of you 🙂


After the meet up, B and I headed into Disneyland for a bit, but it was so hot that we decided to head back to the hotel and relax.  Disneyland is so different from WDW in that there are hardly any indoor areas to get away from the heat!  It was a sweat fest for sure!

Later that night we met Amanda for dinner at Tortilla Jo’s for our pre-half meal and headed back early so I could get a good night sleep.  Round 2 was fast approaching and I had another early wake up call!

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!

01 RD-DL-Meetup

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.

03 RD-DL-Meetup

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.

06 RD-DL-Meetup-Disneyland

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.

07 RD-DL-Meetup-Main-Street

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!

011 RD-DL-Meetup-Teacups

09 RD-DL-Meetup-Sarah-Amanda

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

012 RD-DL-Meetup-Teacups

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??

014 RD-DL-Meetup

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 🙂

015 RD-DL-Meetup

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

016 RD-DL-Meetup

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!)
019 RD-DL-Meetup

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.

021 RD-DL-Meetup

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!

A Royal runDisney Meet Up!

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend is full of tutus, tiaras and sparkle unlike any other race out there.  With all of these runDisney fanatics in one place (myself included), it’s no surprise that the coveted runDisney meet up/ tweet up was a seriously hot ticket.  So hot in fact, the Disney Parks Blog was brought to a screeching halt a week before the event!  I mean it’s understandable, right?  Where else can you run through an empty Disney park being led by some seriously elite runners?!

The meet up began at 6:30 am with check-in at the entrance to Epcot.  I love this time of day at Walt Disney World.  Everything is quiet, peaceful and just coming to life…a stark difference from the throngs of people that would be arriving in a few short hours.

Good Morning Epcot!

Good Morning Epcot!

5K & Half Marathon Finish Lines!

5K & Half Marathon Finish Lines!

We all checked in, signed our lives away to Disney waivers and were given a runDisney t-shirt.  I LOVE these shirts…the women’s cut is great!

Amanda & I in runDisney Gear

Amanda & I in runDisney Gear

What a gorgeous morning, despite the insane humidity.  There is something different about Florida skies that we just don’t have up here in Connecticut.  The clouds are breathtaking…what a treat!

SE Sky

Before the morning started, we had some time to chat with the runDisney folks, celebrities and fellow runners.  It was great to see a lot of new faces at the meet up and also reunite with some old friends from past races.

Me & Tony from Pacebook Running Club

Me & Tony from Pacebook Running Club

Amanda, Susan and I Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Amanda, Susan and I
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Group Shot

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Before I knew it, it was 7:00 am and we were ready to start our run!  We were briefed by the runDisney team on the course, a 3-mile run around World Showcase and Crescent Lake finishing in the Germany pavilion.



There were two groups that went out.  The first was a faster group keeping a 9 minute mile pace and led by reigning Princess Half Marathon champion Rachel Booth.  I’m nowhere near fast enough to keep up with that crew, so I decided to stick with the group led by Jeff Galloway.  I’m a huge fan of Jeff’s, so any chance I get to run with him I will.  Plus, the 30 sec run/ 30 sec walk intervals are more my speed.

We went through Future World and clockwise around World Showcase Lagoon…and look we saw some Princesses along the way!


Future World



Snow White in Germany!

Snow White in Germany!

When we reached the International Gateway, we headed out towards the Boardwalk Resort and around Crescent Lake.  This is a gorgeous area for a morning run, but running around there was bringing back some painful memories of the Walt Disney World Marathon a few weeks prior!

We entered back into Epcot and circled back towards Germany where a nice breakfast (they still need some healthier options!) and some much needed cold water were waiting for us.  We were welcomed by Bob Hitchcock and Faron Kelly of runDisney who told us a bit about the history of Disney’s Princess Half Marathon and gave us ladies some serious props for making running so popular.  Did you know that this race has grown from 7,000 runners in 2009 to 27,000 in 2013?!?  Go ladies!

Bob Hitchcock

Bob Hitchcock

Faron Kelly

Faron Kelly

Jeff Galloway and Tara Gidus, official nutritionist for runDisney, took the stage next to give us some helpful tips for the race.  A heat advisory had been issued for the weekend and they helped prepare us for dealing with that, including proper nutrition, hydration and pace.  Rachel Booth, two time Disneyland Half Marathon winner and reigning Princess Half Marathon winner, also made a brief appearance.  What an amazing athlete!!

Tara Gidus & Jeff Galloway  Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Tara Gidus & Jeff Galloway
Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Rachel Booth

Rachel Booth

Next up were the truly inspirational moments of the morning.  Ali Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser, spoke about her weight loss journey and how adopting a healthy lifestyles completely changed her life.  She had a few gym towels to give away and had a very unique way of choosing who received them.  She asked everyone who had ever lost weight to raise their hands and then asked people to put down their hands based on how much weight they had lost, getting up to 100 pounds.  It was quite amazing to see how many people had lost significant amounts of weight and be able to congratulate them for their accomplishment.

Ali Vincent

Ali Vincent

Most inspiring of all was April Holmes.  Wow…just wow.  After a train accident 12 years ago resulted in April losing her left leg below the knee, she set out to be the fastest Paralympic athlete in the world and accomplished that many times over.  April has won numerous gold medals in the Paralympic Games in both 2008 and 2012 and continues to break World Records every year.  Her story of loss and overcoming the odds almost brought me to tears and motivated me to try and be better in everything I do.  She left us with this: “Your gold medal comes from being better than you were yesterday.”  From now on when I’m having a tough day, I will think of April and her strength.  Simply amazing.

April Holmes

April Holmes

The final presentation was from the folks over at Senses Spa, which recently opened at the Grand Floridian Resort.  They talked about various recovery techniques including foam rolling and massage.  Two lucky attendees were chosen for the demos!

Massage Demo

Massage Demo

Now it wouldn’t be a runDisney event without some giveaways.  The folks at New Balance were on hand to talk about the success of the new runDisney shoes that debuted over Marathon Weekend and they gave away a few pairs!  Look who chose the winners…Sean Astin!

Sean Astin

Goonies Never Say Die!

New Balance assured everyone that there would be plenty of shoes at the Expo that weekend, but encouraged people to get over there early just in case certain sizes sold out.  Good advice because the Expo was CRAZY!  More on that later…

The meet up wrapped up with an appearance by none other than Princess Minnie!  I mean obviously she would be there.  We also found out that is was Sean Astin’s birthday, so everyone joined in to sing to him!

Minnie & Bob

Happy Birthday Sean!

Happy Birthday Sean!

We all headed outside and were given some great giveaways of H2O products, a water bottle and other small tokens from the sponsors.  Princess Minnie and a few other Disney princesses were waiting for us for exclusive photo ops…score!  Minnie and I shared a few laughs and we’re now BFF.  Would you expect anything less from me?  The meaning of Sarah is Princess after all 🙂



S A & Minnie

The 3 Best Girlfriends!



Snow White confirmed the Dwarfs were hard at work in the mines...

Snow White confirmed the Dwarfs were hard at work in the mines…

And that concludes another magical runDisney meet up.  These events are so fun and give you a great opportunity to learn more about runDisney and get inspired to become a better athlete!  If you are interested in attending one of these meet ups, watch the Disney Parks Blog for an announcement about a week before any runDisney race weekend.  The competition is fierce, so you’ve got to be quick!  Hope to see you at the next event 🙂


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.

Next Page »