Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#OnTheRoadToDisneyParks Meet up – Atlanta Edition


I was one of the lucky 100 people to participate in the very first runDisney #OnTheRoadToDisneyParks meet up in Atlanta!

The night before was like a race night – I laid my clothes out, got my bag packed, and went to bed early.  I was like a kid on Christmas eve!!

I woke up bright and early at 4:30 a.m. and made it to Turner Field at 6:00.  My BRF Brandi and her parents were waiting for me when I got there.  We walked inside the stadium and got our fabulous runDisney shirt and a wristband.  There was so much excitement in the air!meet up 3We quickly changed into our shirts, checked our bags, took some pictures and mingled with some old and new friends!
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I finally got to meet Kristin from BamaGirlRuns!  Such a sweet girl and I hope to see her again soon! :)

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We also got the chance to chat a bit with Darrell Fry, head of Disney Sports PR team.  He was nice enough to wish me a Happy Birthday!

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Soon after, we gathered around to hear Michael Cain chat with us a bit about the itinerary for the morning then turned it over to Brian from New Balance.  He led us in a mini Good Form running clinic, telling us the four main things to focus on during a run were posture, midfoot, cadence, and lean.  The runDisney photographer caught a good picture of me focusing on tweeting while working on my form -

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                                         Photos courtesy of runDisney

Michael came back on and brought out a very special guest….Mickey!

Bob Hitchcock then took the stage and asked if we were ready to run…of course we were!  We would split up into two groups – a straight run group and then the run/walk group.  Jeff Galloway would be leading the run/walkers and Bob and Brian would lead the straight run group.

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We let the straight run group go first, and then we were off! (Please excuse the blurriness of my photos…it’s difficult to run and take good pictures at the same time)

We had our own police escort…Brandi and I agreed that it made us feel like we were leading a race!  The Atlanta Track Club was hosting a pacing group run for the Atlanta half marathon that same morning and cheered for us as we ran by.  I love the camaraderie runners have.

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I have to say it was pretty awesome to run underneath the Olympic rings with an Olympian!

meet up 26We did a quick loop around the State Capitol (fun fact – that’s real gold on the dome of the capitol and it was all mined in Dahlonega, GA…where I went to college!)

meet up 28We headed back down to Turner Field.  I hung back and ran with my friend, Marie, who I met during the Publix half marathon this past March.

meet up 29We were directed down a ramp where Brandi was waiting, and then we ran out onto the field!!  It was so incredibly cool to be out on the field.  We also played around in the dugout for a bit

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If you haven’t heard, the Braves are leaving Turner Field for a new stadium in 2017.  Turner Field was first the Olympic Stadium where the track and field events for the 1996 Olympic and Paralympic games were held.  it was then converted into the baseball stadium that it is now.  If you’ve ever been to Turner Field and you see the large brick columns outside, those were left from the Olympic Stadium.  They have plans to tear down Turner Field, so I may have taken some of the rock from the warning track home with me (will post how I’m displaying it soon) -

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We had another special guest waiting for us at home plate – Minnie Mouse!

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                           Photos courtesy of runDisney

As Brandi and I headed out of the stadium, we decided to kind of recreate our video we made while running around Angel Stadium during the Dumbo Double Dare back in August (don’t laugh at us!)

We ran back up into the plaza area where they had a healthy breakfast waiting for us…lots of fruit, cereals, Greek yogurt, eggs, water, and coffee.

meet up 50Our cue that the speakers were starting was a promotional video that runDisney had put together.  It started the presentations off to a great start!  Michael came back up and introduced our first speaker, Tammy Jacobson, Marketing Manager from runDisney.
meet up 52Tammy announced a new hashtag that will be coming to Instagram soon called #WhyIRunDisney.  You can record and submit a 15 second video showing why you run Disney, and a select few will be chosen to have a home interview to go more indepth.  Keep an eye out for this soon!

Next up was runDisney’s own rockstar and guru trainer, Jeff Galloway!
meet up 53He talked about his run/walk method and how he’s going to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon at Space Coast!!  If you see him along the course be sure to cheer him on!

After Jeff we had Tara Gidus, runDisney’s nutritionist -meet up 55She expressed the importance of getting something into our body before our runs.  She also asked if anyone had gained weight during half marathon training (guilty party here!).  She said we often justify eating more than we should by the distance that we run.  I really need to remember this piece of advice!

I think everyone was excited about the next speaker….Ali from New Balance!meet up 56They posted a teaser video about the 2014 runDisney New Balance shoes shortly after the Wine and Dine meet up, and we got a sneak peek of the second teaser video before it was posted to the public on Saturday!  This year, Sorceror Mickey and Pink Minnie will grace the sought after shoe.  It will be the same shoe style as 2013, and this year they will be adding kids shoes!
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Here’s the video if you haven’t already seen it -

Ali brought up Barbara Parker, an Olympic runner from the UK.  She has been running since she was 9, but confessed to us that she has NEVER been to Disney World; therefore, she has not run a Disney race!!  I think all 100 guests gasped at the same time.  She joined the run/walk group since she is 15 weeks pregnant with her first child…a baby girl!…and wanted to take it nice and up 57Finally, Warren Green from Runner’s World spoke to the group.
meet up 58Warren talked about Runner’s World’s partnership with runDisney for the Runner’s World Challenge and announced that it would be back in 2015!  I had the opportunity to speak with Warren after the event and we talked about the Runner’s World events in Pennsylvania.  He said one of the most popular events was the one mile dog race!  I would love to do it with Guinness if we ever found ourselves in the area when it was going on.

Before the event ended, we had the chance to get a picture with Mickey and Minnie….it’s just not a Disney event without some characters!
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                                        Photos courtesy of runDisney

Brandi and I walked out into the stands and took a few more pictures of an empty Turner Field -
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When we came back we saw one of our fellow ATLrunsDisney gals, Amy, being interviewed by Bob.  We hung around and then Bob got me up in front of the camera!
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Here’s the final product of the video…you might see a familiar face in there ;)

After the interview Brandi and I took a quick peek into our new runDisney/ESPN Wide World of Sports bags and found an awesome runDisney hat!  We refer to it as our “Jeff Galloway” hat as it’s the one he’s seen wearing during the events.
brandi pic 16Yep…we’re cool like that.

We took a few more pictures before heading out.
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                   Team#runDisney                                            ATLrunsDisney
                                                  Photos by runDisney

Had to snap a picture of the bling for the 2014 runDisney race year before leaving!
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Brandi, her parents and myself went out for a belated birthday brunch after the meet up at Chick-A-Biddy.  The food was fantastic and I will definitely go back!

As if the experience and the shirts weren’t enough, runDisney hooked us up with a fabulous bag of swag!

meet up 75It included a runDisney/ESPN WWoS water bottle and drawstring bag, a runDisney hat, a magnet, a pen, a water bottle holder, lots of Luna bars, a Puma gift card, and a runDisney bracelet.
meet up 70runDisney, there aren’t enough words to describe my gratitude for this fantastic event.  I met so many new running friends and had a blast with fellow runDisney enthusiasts like myself.  THANK YOU!!!

While they did not announce where the next stop will be, I highly recommend keeping an eye on runDisney’s Twitter page and the Disney Parks blog.  You can also follow with the hashtag #OnTheRoadToDisneyParks.

Have you been to a runDisney meet up before?  What was your favorite part?

Until next time,

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