This morning I had the opportunity of a lifetime. Myself and about 99 other lucky, qualified applicants were invited to the runDisney Princess Half Meet-Up at EPCOT where we would meet Jeff Galloway (Olympic athlete), Suzy Favor Hamilton (Olympic athlete & motivational speaker), Rachel Booth (elite runner and runDisney champion), Lori Lovell (Disney Moms Panel runDisney expert) and Betty Wong (Editor in Chief of Fitness Magazine).
I'd heard about these social media meet-ups via Twitter and wanted to be sure that when I ran my first runDisney race I'd be able to participate. So I kept close watch on the Tweets and blogs and replied as soon as the invite was sent out.
I arrived at EPCOT, for the first time in my life, at 6:00am with a giant smile plastered on my face. I could not believe my first experience at EPCOT was going to be running through the World Showcase at 6:30am with Jeff Galloway. This was an event I knew I would never forget! As soon as I arrived I met Malinda, Amanda & Katie - among many other fabulous ladies like Nicole (who was kind enough to direct me to the ladies room after the run). Soon we were met by the awesome Event Staff and given waivers & runDisney tech shirts to change into. After bag check we posed for pics with the iconic Spaceship Earth as our backdrop.
I realized Olympic athlete and runDisney Training Consultant Jeff Galloway had arrived and I made my way over to introduce myself to him and thank him for his helpful training program. Meeting him was an absolute thrill - surpassed only by the thrill of running through EPCOT with him. As a complete novice to running, I can honestly say that I don’t know what I would have done without his Princess Half Marathon Beginner Training Program. I went from huffing and puffing while trying to run 10 seconds of each minute, to being able to keep a 12mm pace with him by running/walking at 30 second intervals. Unbelievable!
After formal announcements and introductions we were asked to choose a group to run with: Rachel/Suzy or Jeff. I chose to run with Jeff because he would be running at 30/30 intervals which is exactly what my plan was for the Princess Half Marathon. What better way to practice? Before I knew it I was off and running through an empty EPCOT…a dream come true!
We ran 2 miles (1.5 times around the Showcase) and ended back at Germany where we were treated to a lovely breakfast. We took our seats (tables were decorated with tiaras – so cute!) and prepared to learn a ton of information from our guest speakers.
All of the photos I took while running are in the gallery below.
Rachel answered everyone’s questions and shared her stories about moving from California to Louisiana, what the Olympic Trials are like and balancing running with family life.
Betty talked about fitness, heath and motivation. I loved what Betty said – we need be so thankful that we have the ability run. I totally agree with this! I run because I can.
Lori shared her running story, which I could really relate to. She set a goal and went for it. Even though she’s never going to come in first place – it’s all about finishing the race. She was really sweet and inspirational.
Last, but most certainly not least, Suzy (who was sitting next to me the entire time and is just fantastic) shared her story of success coupled with the struggle of dealing with depression. Her story was very motivational and honest. Most importantly, she told us to just dance – which we did!
Finally, Minnie took the stage and wished us all good luck. We were then invited to go outside and pose for photos with the Princesses. Before I went outside I thanked Suzy for her talk and posed for a pic with her.
Thank you Disney Sports and runDisney for a truly magical event! Great memories and friends were made today! If you would like to be part of an event like this, be sure to follow: @runDisney, @DisneySports @DisneyParks on Twitter as well as the Disney Parks Blog. The announcement for this meet-up was made on Twitter a couple of weeks before the race, and the meet-up was held 2 days before the race.