I was very blessed to have been able to attend the 2013 WDW Marathon Meet-Up. I RSVPed via email when this meet-up was announced - but I didn't reply fast enough and I was not part of the original selected group. As luck would have it, spaces opened up when others cancelled and I was selected to participate just 2 days before the meet-up! Between this and the first class upgrade on American - I was beaming. I've had a very difficult, stressful few months at work and I needed some magic.
I was able to connect with some gals from Team runDisney and we all rode to Hollywood Studios together early in the morning. We checked in, received our 20th Anniversary tee shirts (thank you runDisney!) & starting chatting with the other attendees. This is when I met the ever so sweet Kristin @bamagirlruns! I've been following her on Twitter and we've chatted back and forth, but now here she was in real life! Just as we were catching up - Mickey, Goofy and Donald appeared! Their track suits were pretty rad.
After photos with the gang, runDisney's Bob, Tony and Darrell introduced running legends to us:
- Joan Benoit Samuelson, first female Olympic marathon winner in 1984
- Des Davila, distance runner, fastest American Woman Boston Marathon finisher 2:22:38
- Jeff Galloway, man behind the run/walk method, former Olympian and the reason I am able to run
- Bill Rodgers, Olympic runner, 4 time winner of Boston & NY Marathons
- Bart Yasso, inventor of the Yasso 800s, Runner’s World’s CRO
- Dick Beardsley, elite running champion and author
- Adriano Bastos, 8 time WDW Marathon champion - a running beast from Brazil!
So impressive! And intimidating! We were to be split into 2 groups - the 9mm pace group with Joan, Des and Adriano OR the 12mm walk/run group led by Jeff with Dick, Bill and Bart. I chose the 12mm run/walk group because that is my range and my running method.
Off we went through Hollywood!
I cannot even begin to tell you how exciting this was! I can't even say it was a dream come through because it was not something I could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams! Running with legends through an empty Hollywood Studios. Wow!
And there was the heat. And the white cotton shirt. I swear the humidity was at 100% and it seemed like Jeff was going way faster than 30/30. Just when I felt like I needed a break - this happened.
Off we went again - this time we knew we were headed to Lights, Motors, Action! Not that much further now...
A food truck, snacks and beverages awaited us. We mingled until we were ushered to our seats and waited for what runDisney had in store next.
As Bob from runDisney was welcoming us once again - he was interrupted by Joey Fatone who came rolling in on the back of a truck! He told us he signed up for the 5K, but since his wife (who was running Goofy) got hurt - he decided to run Goofy in her place. He told us that his training hasn't been intense but he has been training for Dancing with Starts which enabled him to run. He answered my question about what is on his playlist. Check out my (super shaky - sorry!) video:
Next up: members of the New Balance team discussed the new shoe...the sold out one! Not expecting such a high demand, only 1000 shoes were made and all were sold. But - they did have some on-hand to raffle off.
Next up: the panel of running legends we ran through the park with earlier this morning. What an amazing group! They joked, they laughed, the gave us advice. It was such an inspiration & pleasure to able able to sit in and listen to Joan talking about women being so absent from running in the beginning. Now we are the largest 1/2 marathon running group!
Next up: Eddie Mason, former NFL linebacker. He talked about the importance of core strength. Now retired from football, he is the founder of MASE Training where he trains and helps athletes. He mentioned that many athletes sometimes overlook the importance of core strength, and he's right! I'm guilty too.
Last , but certainly not least, runDisney had one last surprise: Drew Carey! You have NO idea how much I love Drew Carey. Whose Line is it Anyway is one of my all time favorite TV shows, and I MISS it! I already had my question ready for him: DO YOU MISS WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?!?!?!?
When I asked the question a few people in the crowd actually clapped - it is really the greatest show. I was happy to hear that he still does imrov with the guys from the show. Later, when the presentations were over, we were given the opportunity to meet Drew and take a photo with him. I mentioned to him that my aunt is disabled and the highlight of her day is watching him on The Price is Right. I asked if he would just say hi to her quickly and not only did he say hi - but he made her laugh too! At my expense. :)
Drew went on to share with us his own struggles. His desire to be healthy was what led him to start running. An injury was keeping him from running the marathon, but he still came to the event and still plans to keep running and stay healthy.
Then it was time to talk tattoos with Adriano! I do not speak Portuguese, but I do speak Spanish fluently and we were able to communicate. What a mellow, cool guy! I asked him what to do if I find myself freaking out during the marathon (because I'm scared y'all) and he told me to take deep breaths and relax. Don't over-think it. It's all mental.
Then I met Joey!
Then I met Joan!
Then I hung out with these 2 guys!
Poof - then the Meet-Up was over. Thank you so, so much runDisney and Disney Sports for including me in this most magical event. It was certainly a large scale event for a such a large scale occasion - the 20th anniversary of the WDW Marathon! Thanks for the goodie bag too!