Thursday, November 21, 2013

runDisney's First On The Road To Disney Parks - Atlanta

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to be chosen to get to participate in the first stop in the brand new runDisney On The Road To Disney Parks meetup.  It was truly a remarkable experience that I will never forget!

Brian and I signed up a few weeks ago, via the Disney Parks Blog sign up.  We both were lucky enough to get picked, so after a little training on my part (I am certainly not a runner), we were ready to go.  We only had to run 2 miles, so I thought...what the heck.  I can manage.

We got up super early on November 16th (yikes...4:30 am!) and we made our way down to Turner Field, which is about an hour away from our house.  Check in started at 6:15 am, so after we got through the process and were given our awesome runDisney shirts, we just started mingling, taking pictures with friends, and being excited.

The event kicked off as the sun started to rise on the horizon, however, it was a very foggy and cool morning, so, it was a bit difficult to see all day. We started with an introduction from Michael Cain, a representative from the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Next was Brian, from New Balance who discussed the importance of Good Form Running (For those curious, the four steps are posture, midfoot, cadence, and lean).  All of a sudden, who should appear, but Mickey Mouse himself who was there to help cheer us on!  It was time to run!    

We were split into two groups.  Group one was full of the runners (Brian went with that group, as he really is the runner in the family and really the reason I signed up in the first place). Group two would be going out with none other than Jeff Galloway using his 20/20 running method.  (Running for 20 seconds/walking for 20 seconds.)  Me, being the non-experienced runner chose the Galloway method.  

The running group.  Brian's in the front in the red hat!  ©Disney

As we set out, I started running with a friend of mine, Jess Cutler.  She's a real runner, but she stayed with me the whole way and helped motivate me through the entire process.  I have to say a HUGE thank you to her.  She'll never know how grateful I am that she stayed behind with me, because I had a lot of trouble with this run and she kept me going.  
The Jeff Galloway Group ©Disney

 The problem I had was that the group who went out with Jeff Galloway was so huge that by the time the front group started running for the 20/20 method, those of us in the back were just starting to walk.  It was extremely chaotic and I probably made a big mistake, because Jess and I decided it would be a good call to run to catch up to the main group.  We never did catch up and what I probably did was wore myself out more, because this run ended up being EXTREMELY hard.   (Granted, I'd also never made it 2 miles in my training, but I was able to get through a little over a mile with no problems on my own.)  We decided halfway through that we were just going to run at my pace and I managed to do alright.  

The run itself was extremely cool though.  We got to run through the Olympic Rings (from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics).  We then ran all the way around the Capitol building.  It was so beautiful.  It was my first time that close to it.  

After we rounded back, we made our way back to Turner Field.  (I believe this was our two miles).  From there, we wound our way through the tunnels of Turner Field and all the sudden, there was a light at the end of the tunnel...quite literally.  We were going to get to go out onto the field!  

This was my second time getting to go out on a professional baseball field.  I'd done it a few years prior at Busch Stadium, home of my beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  Despite the fact that it was Braves country, it was still a really cool experience.  We got to take photos in the dugout and then we got to pose with Minnie Mouse.  From there, we ran back around the warning track, where my friend Mary Jo decided we had to take a special photo.  

My feet on the field!
Collage of me visiting both Busch and Turner!

This was all Mary Jo's fault.  :)

Once we made our way back to the main entryway of Turner Field, it was time for a delicious and nutritious breakfast.  Items included yogurt, cereal, a spinach and egg quiche, coffee, fruit, and water.

When everyone was fed and got settled in, the guest speakers series started.  First off, Tammy Jacobson, marketing area manager for runDisney mentioned a new hashtag that will be introduced called #WhyIRunDisney.  Here, guests are encouraged to submit their own stories of why they run Disney.  Disney may just want to visit you to have you share your story with them! 
Jeff Galloway discussed his run/walk method.  He also gave encouragement that truly anyone can run in the big races.  I actually won a prize from Mr. Galloway!  A book about training for Half Marathons for women.  (Are they trying to tell me something?)
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Diet Diva Tara, runDisney's nutritionist, got on stage and discussed how important proper nutrition is in the of fueling up of runners.  One major thing she discussed was how gaining wait while training can happen if you over indulge because you know you ran.  (I think I can be guilty of overindulging on days I run...must stop that now!)

After that was the part that most of the crowd was excited for...the representatives from New Balance took the stage.  While they didn't show the New Balance 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.  It was also announced was that there would be a kids shoe that would mimic the adult version.  

After that, the event's second Olympian, (see the Olympic ties) Barbara Parker then got up and spoke about what it's like to train for the Olympics.  She shared a few tips on how to properly run while expecting.  (She announced she was pregnant!) 

Finally, from Runner's World, Warren Greene got up and mentioned that they are bringing back their challenge to the 2015 runDisney events.  

The event was now coming to a close.  Mickey and Minnie came back so that we could all grab a quick photo with them.  We also got awesome swag bags which included lots of goodies including a hat, water bottle, Luna and Cliff bars, a Puma gift card and more!  

It was really an exciting event and one I am certainly glad I was able to participate in.  While the actual run was a bit difficult for me, I had a blast doing it.  I also really enjoyed the training process.  While I may not have been a runner before I signed up...I think that because of this event, I am now.  We'll just have to see where this new-found running bug takes me.  

Here is the recap video that played on The Disney Parks Blog.  Brian and I can be found in the the first 3 seconds! 

I can also say that if an On The Road To Disney Park event comes near you, sign up.  If you are even thinking about starting to run, sign up.  This event motivated me more than anything has ever done before.  The magic of runDisney has worked on me, and I bet it will work on you too.  

A HUGE thank you to the runDisney staff that put on this incredible event.  They did a phenomenal job. 

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