Last week I was among thousands of people who were sitting at their computers patiently waiting and hitting the refresh button on the browser. I was hoping to be one of the lucky few to be selected for the Walt Disney World Marathon Meet-up. When I received the email saying I was selected, I screamed. There it was, my name, on the list.
When Friday arrived, I was more nervous about the meet-up than attempting to complete the Goofy Challenge (half marathon on Saturday and then a full marathon on Sunday). The whole idea of running with Bart Yasso, Jeff Galloway, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Bill Rodgers, and Dick Beardsley made my head spin. These are runners who have inspired me to become a better runner and to pursue my goals.
The morning of the meet-up I hailed a cab at the front of the Grand Floridian Hotel and rode over to the entrance of Disney Hollywood Studios (cost was $17). Disney wasn’t offering transportation since the meet-up began at 6:30 am. When I arrived, there were people already waiting at the entrance. I could feel the excitement in the air.
As we all filed into line to sign our waivers and pick up our runDisney shirts (white cotton), three of the original Disney gang showed up for picture opportunities. During pictures, I goofed around with Donald pretending to race one another.
Then a slight hush came over the 100 attendees. That’s when I saw some of the greatest runners of all time walk in, including the amazing Desiree Davila. I instantly felt the magnitude of what I was about to experience.
After a brief introduction by runDisney, we were split into two groups.
Group 1: 9 minute miles with the pacers being Adriano Bastos (8 time WDW champion) Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Desiree Davila.
Group 2: 12 minute miles with the pacers being Jeff Galloway, Bart Yasso, and Dick Beardsley.
We ran 2.4 miles through Disney Hollywood Studios. Truthfully, I don’t remember much of the park. What I do remember is how quiet it was. As we circled the park, there were characters out for pictures. I also had the chance to chat and run with Joe from the Marathon Show (a podcast that has been such a great help in my adventures of running).
As we finished our run, we ended in the outdoor studio where Disney holds the Lights, Motor, Action Stunt Show.
Waiting for us was an ESPN food truck serving breakfast sandwiches, juice, and coffee. Once everyone got settled in, the program began.
Joey Fatone rode in on a stunt truck. He talked about his training and how he got started running. Joey addressed the fact that N’SYNC will not be getting back together (tears) and then discussed his running music list (likes Black Eyed Peas) and running method (just staying in shape).
New Balance then discussed their new runDisney running shoe. They also talked about how to choose the right shoe and how the runDisney New Balance shoe isn’t for everyone (we bought two pairs at expo).
Then the running greats came up and took part in a question and answer session.
Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice and quotes:
“Three aspects that need focus in your life: Mind, Body, and Spirit. Life is all about balance.” ~ Joan Benoit Samuelson
“We need to inspire each other!” ~ Joan Benoit Samuelson
“I split life into two categories: BC and AD. BC is before children where I use to schedule my day around running. AD is after baby diapers, now I schedule my running around my day.” ~ Joan Benoit Samuelson
“The young lady at Starbucks curses my name every Wednesday! My advice never have a workout named after you!” ~ Bart Yasso
“Disney is the only place in the world where you say I’m only doing the marathon and truly mean it.” ~ Desiree Davila
“You are the leading force against childhood obesity by just being out there doing what you are doing…running!” ~ Jeff Galloway
After the the running panel finished, runDisney introduced the funny and inspiring Drew Carey. Drew spoke about how he started running to lose weight but then incorporated it into a healthy lifestyle. Then Drew said something that rings true and is important for people beginning the journey in healthy living, “You don’t have to be perfect you just have to live healthier!”
RunDisney concluded the meet-up by giving away runDisney suitcases, vinlymations, New Balance shoes, and a free entry into next years marathon. After the presentations were finished, we had a chance to talk with the speakers.
Oh and we had the chance to boogie with Goofy (totally awesome!)
**A special THANK YOU (from the bottom of my heart) to runDisney for the amazing opportunity!**