10 October, 2011

runDisney Meet-Up & Eat-Up Recap

A week before the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, the Disney Parks Blog posted about a Meet-Up & Eat-Up the Friday before the race with training experts Jeff Galloway & Brooks Johnson as well as Disney chef Gary Jones.  Unfortunately I wasn't one of the lucky 25 to be picked (I think runDisney might be sick of me showing my face everywhere, haha!) but I had 9 friends (yes 9 out of the 25!) that were picked to attend!

Danielle and Patrick were both generous enough to write a recap of their experiences for me (I swear I didn't bribe them with food and wine during the festival!).  I thought it would be nice to include two views since they broke up the attendees into 2 running groups and Danielle and Patrick ran in separate groups.  Other than the run though, all sessions were done together.

Hopefully I can merge both of their recaps seamlessly and don't confuse everyone with repetitive information. 


Pre-Event:

~Danielle....
About a week before I was set to leave for Florida for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (my first race ever!) I was at work waiting for a meeting to start and decided to check Facebook on my phone (shhh! Don’t tell!) -  there was a post from runDisney that said the first 25 people to respond would be invited to a special Meet-Up and Eat-Up event the Friday before the race…I quickly sent my e-mail and just a few hours later I received a reply saying I was chosen to participate!

I’ll save everyone the story of my trip down to Florida, but a broken down train and a missed flight later I eventually made it to Orlando!  {Not to mention she ran into me randomly on Disney's Magical Express!  Talk about a small world!}  On about 4 hours of sleep I got up and took a cab over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the 7am meeting time for the event.


The Meet-Up:

Olympic Track and Field Coach, Brooks Johnson:

~Danielle...
Once everyone was there Bob Hitchcock, PR Manager for runDisney, gave us a quick rundown of our schedule for the morning and then we all got into golf carts and were driven over to the track where we were met by our first guest speaker of the day, Olympic Track and Field Coach, Brooks Johnson.

Mr. Johnson handed out a document called “The Need for Speed” and from there it was a bit like a high school physics class!  Inertia = Mass x Velocity and Force = Mass x Acceleration…  I wasn’t too great at physics the first time around, and I have to say as someone so new to running (I just started about 3 months ago) all I was worried about that weekend was finishing 13.1 miles without collapsing so this was all a bit beyond me at the moment.  However, that being said, he was a great speaker, very entertaining and funny and I really did enjoy when he got us up and had us do a few drills on the track - he really did watch each person and give feedback on their form!

Photo courtesy of Danielle
~Patrick...
Brooks has been coaching athletes for over 50 years and has coached an athlete in every Olympics since 1968. This guy definitely knows running!  He started off by explaining some basic running principles. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say he threw in a few physics equations to explain how to run faster. It was a little early for a physics lesson (7am!) but he used it to illustrate some basic principles.

Photo courtesy of Patrick
After the quick physics lesson, we split up into smaller groups to get some on track coaching. Brooks wanted to evaluate our running technique, so he had us run 20 yards in a straight line. He used this exercise to illustrate the importance of the arm swing. It acts as the “metronome” for running. The faster you swing your arms, the faster you will run. Give it a try, you’ll definitely see what he means.

Also, the length of the arm swing influences the length of your stride. The longer your arm swing, the longer your stride. Putting these two concepts together really makes a difference. It feels really strange at first but you get the hang of it quickly.

Brooks coaches track athletes, not long-distance runners and because of that I did feel that most of what he demonstrated was geared towards short-track running. However, one could apply the lessons for the last mile of a marathon when you want to have that last big kick to the finish line.

Photo courtesy of Danielle
2010 Wine & Dine Champions Melissa Wisner & Anton VanZyl: 

~Patrick...
The next speakers were Anton Van Zyl and Melissa Wisner. Anton was the 2010 W&D men’s winner and Melissa was the women’s winner. (Anton also won this year’s race) It was a short Q&A session where we got to ask questions about race prep, the course, and running strategy. Everyone in the group wanted to know about proper eating in preparation for a night race. Melissa said that she will have a big breakfast followed by a smaller meal around lunch time. She stops eating at 4pm to make sure that she doesn’t have any issues during the race.


Photo courtesy of Patrick
~Danielle...
Melissa Wisner and Anton Van Zyl talked a bit about the course and the challenges of running a night race since it was something new to most people.  I was a bit surprised when they talked about the number of hills on the course, I was expecting a race in Florida to be pretty flat, I hadn't realized we were going to have to run up the overpass ramps!

Official runDisney Training Consultant, Jeff Galloway: 

~Danielle...
Lastly we heard from the Official runDisney Training Consultant, Jeff Galloway, who I was really looking forward to meeting, I had read some of his books and listened to a podcast he was featured on during my training and I really liked his "you can do it" approach to running, it was very motivating for a new runner looking to jump right in to doing a half marathon.  Jeff handed out a document with articles on “Eating and Drinking BEFORE an Evening Event” and “Recovering After a Night Race”.  He talked a bit about the information in the articles and did a bit of Q&A and then it was time to head off on a run!

Photo courtesy of Patrick


~Patrick...
After the Q&A with the winners from last year, Jeff Galloway was up next. Jeff spoke very briefly about his run-walk-run method and how to prepare for a night race. We got the chance to ask a few questions as a follow up.

Photo courtesy of Danielle

After Jeff finished, it was on to the 2 mi training run led by Anton, Melissa, and Jeff. We were split into two groups, those that wanted to run the entire 2 mi would be running with Anton and Melissa. Those that wanted to do a run-walk-run would be in Jeff’s group.

Run with Jeff Galloway:

~Danielle...
While I wasn’t planning on using the run-walk-run method for the half marathon the next day I decided to go with Jeff’s group – how often is it you have the chance to run with a former Olympian!

The run was a 2 mile loop through the grounds of the Wide World of Sports, Jeff kept a very comfortable pace and the whole group stayed together and chatted the entire time.  Jeff was extremely personable, answered everyone’s questions and really made the run a great experience - I was just glad I brought two pairs of sneakers to Florida with me, it was a trail run and the pair I had on was all wet and sandy by the end!

Photo courtesy of Danielle
Run with 2010 Winners Anton & Melissa:

~Patrick...
I decided I wanted to run with Anton and Melissa, so I joined their running group. After splitting up into our respective groups, we were off. The run was on a “trail” through the grass/wooded area around Wide World of Sports. It was a nice change from running on pavement, but at that early hour, the grass was still damp. By the end of the run, my shoes were pretty wet.

During the first mile of the run, I got a chance to talk to Anton. He was a very friendly guy who was willing to answer any questions we had. I asked him about fueling during a run. To my surprise, he suggested that Coke can be used as a sports drink. He said that many elite runners use flat coke that’s watered down. I don’t think I’ll be trying that anytime soon, but for those adventurous types, give it a try and let me know how it goes.

For the second mile, I ran with Melissa. She is currently living in the DC area and we discussed the Marine Corp marathon since I’ll be running it at the end of October. Unfortunately she isn’t running it this year, but she has in the past. She said that it was a great race and that every runner should do it at least once in their life. I’m definitely glad I decided to sign up.


Eat-Up:

~Patrick...
Once everyone finished the run and hydrated, we headed over to a cooking demonstration given by Disney Chef Gary Jones. Chef Gary is quite active and competes in triathlons, so he prepared a breakfast dish that was good for athletes. It was a quinoa dish with fresh fruit added in. He had a couple of attendees help him prepare the dish and hand out samples.


Photo courtesy of Patrick

~Danielle...
After the run we were taken inside the Wide World of Sports and were met by Disney Chef Gary Jones and the one and only Mickey Mouse (all ready to make us a post-run snack in his Chef’s outfit!).  Chef Jones gave some great nutritional tips and then (with the assistance of two of the participants and Mickey!) made us Quinoa Birchermuesli (a Swiss Cereal with South American grain), something he said he has for breakfast often before he works out (I’ve included the recipe below).

I love oatmeal and this Quinoa had a very similar texture (in fact you can substitute oatmeal for the quinoa if you want) and had nuts, fresh and dried fruit in it.  It was substantial because of everything that was in it and will definitely make a great pre or post run snack - definitely something I'll make at home!

Photo courtesy of Danielle


QUINOA BIRCHERMUESLI RECIPE

4 cups cooked Quinoa (you can also use oatmeal)
1pt skim milk
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts 
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 apples shredded
1 pear shredded
1/2 cup brown sugar

You basically just mix all the ingredients to taste!  It is a very flexible recipe you can substitute the walnuts, apples, pears and cranberries for any nuts, fresh or dried fruit of your choice!  Same with the yogurt, milk - feel free to substitute skim, soy, lactaid or a flavored yogurt!

Photo courtesy of Patrick


Post Eats:

~Danielle...
After our quick snack we were given goody bags which had a t-shirt and a small ESPN Wide World of Sports backpack and then we had a chance to pick up our race packets and check out the expo before they opened the doors to the public.

~Patrick...
After the cooking demo, we all got a chance to take pictures with Mickey and Jeff. We also received our goody bags which included a personalized shirt. Nice touch!  Since many of us were running in the either the 5k or half marathon the next day, we got a chance to go down to the expo for shopping and packet pickup before the official opening. After picking up our bibs, we were free to roam the expo.


Overall:

~Patrick...
This was my second runDisney meetup (I attended the DL meetup) and I have to say that the runDisney folks keep improving each time. There was a lot of good info for runners during the 3 hour session and everyone had a great time. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one!

~Danielle...
Especially as someone participating in their first race it was really exciting and interesting to be a part of the Meet Up, I learned some great tips and met some really great people.  The entire event was well organized by the runDisney staff and the opportunity to be a part of it really did add something special to my first race experience, hopefully I'll get the chance to participate in another in the future!

Photo courtesy of Danielle
Photo courtesy of Danielle

~~~~

Thank you Danielle and Patrick!!  First drink after the marathon in January is on me.  :)

Sounds like it was definitely an amazing event and each runDisney Meet-Up just seems to get better and better.

runDisney also posted this awesome video recap about the meet-up and doesn't that guy Patrick at the very end look familiar?  :)




(You can find Patrick on Twitter @InIronsPL.  We're still trying to convince Danielle to sign up for an account!)

7 comments

  1. Yay Patrick and Danielle! I'd love to attend one of these meets one day. It'd be incredible to get to spend time with Jeff Galloway, especially on a run.

    I may be hitting some of you for guest posts, too! ;)

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  2. Excellent recap. Sounds like an amazing meetip with lots of graat info! Thanks for sharing with us!!!

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  3. Sorry about the horrible spelling in that last comment - in an airport on the iPhone. Don't you love auto correct? Me not so much :).

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  4. @Lisa...We need to figure out a way for you to get picked for the next one!

    @Amanda...definitely a ton of great info, thanks again to Pat and Danielle!

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  5. Great recap! I just added a link to you post in my post today! :-)

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  6. Hi! I'm stopping over from TWINS RUN- I'm in many of these pix, so reading this now is tre cool!!!

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  7. @Twins...thank you!! :)

    @DisTherapy...glad you came on by!

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