runDisney Princess Half Meet Up 2013

There’s no doubt about it, the runDisney meet ups are a sought after and hard to get into event. A lucky few get to join in the fun and experience an up close and personal look at the runDisney brand. These meet up’s take place at the beginning of the race weekend, early in the morning. No one knows the location or exact details when they are signing up, but what they do know is it’s going to be an awesome one of a kind event.

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This year’s Princess meet up took place in EPCOT. We had to be at the gates around 6:30 am for a prompt 7:00 start. There was plenty of excitement in the air as everyone donned their runDisney shirts and prepared for a three mile run to kick off the morning.

I caught up with some friends before the run began including my twin for the morning, Diet Diva Tara.

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I also caught up with Faron Kelley, the Director of Marketing and Communications for Disney sports.

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I took a few photos and soon it was time for the run to start. Jen and I were ready to run in our skirts.

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Some of the runDisney team and celebrities that were participating were introduced, such as Rachel Booth, Princess half winner (and fellow Mandeville, LA girl) and Sean Astin of Rudy, The Goonies, and Lord of the Rings fame. We took a group photo then split into two groups for our run. The straight run group led by Rachel, and the run walk group led by the legendary Jeff Galloway.

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Can you spot me in the photo below?

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We ran around the World Showcase in the peaceful stillness of the morning before the hustle and bustle of another Disney day began.

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I was running SO fast you can’t even see me clearly. Smile

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When we made it around World Showcase, we were surprised with a quick visit from the Fairy Godmother. We told her we couldn’t wait to see her the morning of the Princess half marathon, and after a quick photo we were on our way, heading out to the Boardwalk.

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We made a loop around the Boardwalk and back into EPCOT where we finished up in Germany. Breakfast was waiting for us (as well as coffee!) I had a muffin, banana, and bagel with cream cheese. It hit the spot after a fun morning run.

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The lovely Shannyn sat next to me, she is super sweet!

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The speakers soon began, and I knew we were in for a treat. First up we heard from Faron Kelley who praised us ladies for making runDisney events so successful. We outnumbered the guys during marathon weekend! Girl Power!

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We also got to hear from Jeff Galloway (the official training consultant for runDisney) and Tara Gidus (official runDisney nutritionist). Jeff reminded us it was going to be a warm weekend, and to adjust our expectations accordingly, and Tara gave some quick nutrition tips as well.

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Rachel Booth talked to us about training, and how even in her lower mileage weeks, you can still have great runs and do well. I had to chuckle when she said a 50 mile week was low mileage! She’s a total sweetheart and answered questions from the crowd.

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Next up was Ali Vincent of Biggest Loser fame. I am a huge Biggest Loser fan and cheered on Ali during her victory, so I was excited to hear what she had to say. She spoke about her weight loss and even gave our towels to those in the room who have lost the most weight. It was so inspirational to see all the hands go up around the room of the people who have had significant weight losses.

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I even recorded Ali speaking for a minute, you can just hear the passion in her voice, I love it.

We also heard from Josh Rowe about the ever popular runDisney/New Balance collaboration. (Check out my post about the shoes in case you missed it.) They even gave some shoes away!

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My favorite part of the meet up was hearing from three time Paralympian April Holmes. If you aren’t familiar with April, be sure to read up on this amazing lady. She was involved in a train accident in 2001, and lost her left leg below the knee. While in the hospital wondering what to do next, one of April’s doctors gave her a magazine and told her about the Paralympics. At first she was hesitant, but then she went on to shatter record after record, and brought home the Bronze in London in the 100 meters (which is what I ran in high school!)

The thing I loved most about April is that she openly spoke about her faith, and how she knew even despite the horrible accident she was in, that her life was spared because God had a plan for her. What an amazing plan it was indeed! She claimed she has so many medals she can’t even find them all! She was so inspiring and motivational, and it was just what I needed before trying to beat my own personal best in the Princess half marathon.

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She even handed our autograph cards to all in attendance, such a nice touch!

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We also heard from the folks at the Senses spa at the Grand Floridian. This spa was recently renovated and reopened (you will be hearing more about that from me later!) They drew names and used attendees to demonstrate ways you can self treat before or after a race at home, and some lucky folks walked away with prizes like spa robes and massages!

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Before the meet up ended, a special guest was brought out to greet us, and we were told we had some Princesses waiting outside to meet us as well.

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As we headed out the door to see who was waiting for us, we were all were given amazing goody bags by runDisney including a one day park hopper pass and products from some of the race sponsors.

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Once we made it out into the sunshine, we were introduced to some beautiful princesses! I had to go say hello to Rapunzel first. After all, I was dressing up as her for the race on Sunday. Do you see me explaining that I was going to run with Pascal on my shoulder? It as quite the conversation.

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She was a great Rapunzel, very in character and fun.

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Next I had to say hi to my girl Minnie. My outfit was inspired by her, and she was quick to notice.

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I think she was pleased with my skirt choice.

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Lastly, Snow White was waiting to say hello and wish us well in the race. I don’t have a clue what was so funny here. Or maybe I was just star struck.

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I then spotted April Holmes, and couldn’t miss out on a picture with her. She even let me hold one of her medals! I told her how inspiring I thought she was and I loved how open she was about her story and her faith. She was so humble and sweet!

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I was sad to say goodbye, but I knew it had to come to an end. We all wished each other well for a great race and were on our way. A big thanks to runDisney for hosting this special event for us runners, I had a blast!

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QOTD: Who would you most like to meet/see at a runDisney meet up?

Interested in attending a meet up? Be sure to watch the Disney Parks Blog closely the week before the race. They will post a blog about how to enter the meet up, but you have to be quick, these events reach capacity in a matter of minutes!

Jeff Galloway meet up

 

Friday morning came very early, but I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off. I was so excited to get to be a part of the Jeff Galloway meet up/tweet up. We had to meet the vans at 6:00 to drive over, and it was still dark when we got to EPCOT.

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We waited in line, and had to sign a waiver. We were given our shirts (I was bummed I was given a large in my bag when I had ordered a medium, but oh well!) and I changed shirts on the spot. Who cares, right?

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me and Callie.

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me and Meghann

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I didn’t care that it was chilly out, I was about to run through EPOCT with no one in it, with some amazing people.

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Bob chatted to us for a bit and introduced us to Jeff as well as Rachel, the winner of the Disneyland half, Betty from Fitness magazine, and Suzy Favor Hamilton, Olympian. We split up into two groups to run. One of course being Jeff’s run/walk group, and the other group was led by Bob and Rachel, a straight running group. The plan was 2 miles around EPCOT, and we took off at a VERY quick pace. I am a warm up kind of girl so it was tough keeping up!

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We made it around the world showcase 1.5 times and then stopped in Germany for a great buffet breakfast. We each also got a princess tiara! I also took the opportunity to get a pic with Rachel. She currently lives in my hometown of Mandeville, LA, so of course we became instant BFF’s.

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I also got to chat with the super friendly Jeff Galloway.

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Rachel, Betty, Jeff, Suzy, and Bob all gave a short speech.

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aannddd then we had a dance party.

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To wrap things up, Minnie Mouse came to tell us hello and we all got a free 1 day park hopper pass!

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We were then sent outside to our own private character photo session. Minnie was very excited I was wearing her signature polka dots.

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I felt like a giant next to Rapunzel.

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The lovely Kelly Olexa. Love this lady so much!

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We had a great time at the meet up, I got to meet some great other bloggers and readers of my blog (hi guys!) The weather was great, company was awesome,  and I feel so blessed to have gotten to be a part of it. runDisney are some great folks, and I cannot thank them enough!