With a little Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust (in the form of jet lag suffered by Pam of We Run Disney) I was one of 50 lucky people invited to the Princess Half Marathon Meet Up. Run with Jeff Galloway (awesome)! Share face time with some celebs (awesome)! Have some great food (awesome)! And win some great runDisney prizes (AWESOME)!
C2C meet ups in the same year- I was truly lucky and blessed to have managed this feat! (Want to read about my Tinker Bell Meet Up, a.k.a, BEST. DAY. EVER? Start here.)
If you are wondering how one gets into a meet up, please check out Krissy’s reports on Outrunning the Monorail. She’s put together some comprehensive tips, history, and recaps on past runDisney meet ups. If you want to attend one of these incredible events, you need to follow her advice!
There was a bit of drama in how all this went down. Typically runDisney tweets that we should all watch the blog, gives a few teasers, and then… boom… the real deal tweet goes out, the blog invite goes up, and the emails fly through cyberspace to RSVP for a spot. After hours and hours (and hours and hours and… well, it was a long day y’all!) of waiting impatiently for that final “Send NOW” tweet to go out, we got this instead.
Oh man, you could hear the moans across the internet. Not. Cool. Villains.
Monday morning rolls around and I’m up early for work as usual. Thank you, o’dark thirty schedule! I checked my Facebook running pages like I always do- and BAM! There was an update on the Princess Meet Up from Pam. She happened to check the blog since she was suffering from a bit of jet lag, and she posted in the running groups that YES, the BLOG WAS LIVE! What?!?! What I say?!
It went up at 11:30pm PST- which means 2:30am EST. Sneak attack through the night y’all. There were going to be some mighty upset Princesses when they woke from their beauty sleep to find this news.
I sent my email immediately, and began texting and calling friends to wake up and press send! Honestly, I think I was the last person to get in that morning. Based on conversations with other Princesses, it looked like my 5:06am CST email might have been the latest one that was accepted for this event. Keeping us on our toes, runDisney!
Fast forward to Friday morning, 5 days later…
After a late night with April and a very early wake up call, I met my fellow Princess Meet Up attendees in the lobby of Pop Century. We split a cab and off to Epcot we went.
As soon as I stepped outside my hotel room, I started to sweat. Not glisten, not sparkle- sweat y’all. The humidity was somewhere around 2,000,000%. I wish I was joking. I immediately started to worry. Not about the run with Jeff- though I sensed this was going to be a struggle- but the bigger picture of running the PHM in this weather. Funny thing- I am a Texan! I should be used to this! We have humidity there too- but really, nothing like Florida humidity. There’s something thick and stifling in this weather that kills your soul if you aren’t used to it.
I was not used to it. We’d had a lovely and cool winter in Austin- training has been a joy. And I’ll admit, I’m a weather weenie. I like perfect conditions if I am going to run. And this was NOT it. Panic setting in! Down an extra bottle of water! Hydrate hydrate hydrate!
We check in at Epcot, get our runDisney shirts, and start milling around chatting other Princesses up. Many were experiencing their first meet up and some were repeating the Tink experience like me. We all knew we were in for an exciting morning!
I saw my old friends, Jeff Galloway and Sean Astin. Oh hey there, Ali Vincent- good to see you again, too. She had some surprise guests for me- Mindy and Kris were tagging along as her crew. Super excited to see them at this event!
|Jeff, Ali and Sean signed my Tinker Bell medal|
|Nicest man in running, Jeff Galloway. There’s Ali Vincent in the middle of the Princesses!|
I also got to meet up with my new running friends, Stacey and Tony from PbRC. Finally! This group is a wonderful support system and these two people are our fearless leaders. I made sure to say hi and get hugs from both of them before we started the run.
I also got a little geeky when I looked over, and then up- way way way up!- and saw the Mother Runners walk in. YES! Dimity and Sarah are such an inspiration to me. I was so happy to see they were surprise guests at the meet up and begged a picture. They, of course, were so willing to take a moment to chat and pose.
|I stood on a rock- and Dimity is still taller than me!|
Finally we were ready to get started- but I had to grab one more celebrity! Lori, runDisney mom on the Mom’s Panel. Such a super sweet lady with the most coveted job.
|If you notice the hair- it’s not liking the humidity. Ugh.|
We split into two groups- the straight run group lead by now four time runDisney winner Rachel Booth, and the run/walk/run group lead by Jeff Galloway. I went with Jeff- cause Rachel, yo, is wicked fast!
|Rachel Booth = WINNER|
About 50 steps into this run, I knew I was in trouble. It’s been well documented, so this will not come as any surprise to you- but I had to pee. Yep. Hydration + excitement + humidity + super special fast acting bladder and kidneys = bathroom(s). Plural.
Oh boy. This was going to be a long morning.
After falling behind for potty stop number one, I never quite caught up with the group. In fact, I was pretty far behind and had to motor to catch up to the back of the pack ladies! Thankfully there were a few of us and we chatted as we kept moving forward. We also found a few characters out on the course- they were supposed to be there on the way back, but we decided (in true runDisney fashion!) to stop and take pictures while on the run. Grabbed a quick hug from the Fairy Godmother, Rapunzel, and Snow White.
When I made that first stop Stacey went with me, so for half the run I had a great pacer and companion. Thank you for helping me through that first mile, Stacey! As we left the World Showcase I encouraged her to leave me behind- I had additional issues and the heat was really affecting me. I knew she could catch up with the larger pack so she took off around the Boardwalk without me.
I stopped to take this picture to remind myself what a beautiful morning it was- even if it was pretty miserable to run in!
This was my first trip around the Boardwalk. I know- I know- how can Shenanigans consider herself a Disney World expert if she’s never hung out on the Boardwalk? A matter I am correcting in November when Mr. Shenanigans and I travel to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon – staying at the Beach Club! Holla!
After a loop around the Boardwalk we went back into Epcot and around to Germany. I was never so thankful to see Germany rise before me as I was after this run. The pace I kept was around 12:21 for my moving time (but there were lots of stops in there so my real average was closer to 14 min as I visited a couple of countries facilities). I wasn’t the last one in, but I was certainly one of the last!
I can comfortably do a 12-12:15 min pace at home on normal runs. But out there, on that day, I felt like I was going to die. It was the most miserable run I’ve had in a very long time and it didn’t set well with me. I felt like getting into this event was such a monumental gift- I should be able to leap and sprint with joy around Epcot! But that was not the case. Ugh.
Lesson learned- bad runs happen, even at Disney Meet Ups.
A bunch of hot and sweaty Princesses were already starting their breakfast when I arrived, but I quickly found a seat and settled in for the presentations.
Many of the guests had to rush off to attend the Expo and their commitments there, but we heard from Rachel Booth, Ali Vincent, Jeff Galloway and Diet Diva Tara. The folks from New Balance and Senses Spa both shared information with the group- and prizes! Sean Astin was the designated name drawer and he did a fabulous job.
|Jeff and Tara|
|Massage techniques for runners|
|Christine, Jodi and Dana- Princess power!|
The most inspirational moments came from Paralympian April Holmes. April lost her leg in a train accident and runs anyway. She set her mind to become the fastest runner in the world- and she did. I whine about weather- she kicks my butt with one leg. Perspective, right? She was moving and funny and so personable- runDisney has a winner in April!
Favorite line of the entire event was when she confessed, “I have so many gold medals, I don’t even know where they all are!”
Um. That’s AWESOME.
|She let me hold her Gold from Beijing.|
|Sean was telling her that her gift was “inspiring others.”|
The meet up ended with some special swag from runDisney and special guests waited for us outside.
|Water bottle, lotion, and a free Park Hopper! Awesome swag!|
|Minnie loved my skirt.|
|Snow told me I could skip the race- as in, skip through the race, not run it!|
|My fan girl knows no limits- Tony Morreale of runDisney fame!|
|Rachel Booth- I let her win. #TrueStory|
I had an amazing start to my Princess Half Marathon weekend. All days should start with a run through Epcot and finish with hugs from Minnie and Olympic medal winners. The weather had me down, but I knew my running partners, Julie and Amy, would get me through my mental and physical blocks. They pretty much rock like that. I had two days to hydrate and prepare mentally for what we had to do on Sunday- and this experience to inspire me to across the finish!
Thanks again, runDisney, for magical memories. After two meet ups in two events, I can say I’ve had my fair share of Pixie Dust! I’ll be retiring from competitive blog stalking but happy to answer any questions for others looking to attend future events.
Have you ever attended a Meet Up? If you could attend one, who would you like to meet?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)