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