16 April, 2012

2012 Marathon Weekend runDisney Meetup and Run

The final installment to 2012's Marathon Weekend! Whew! After all the excitement of registration opening for 2013 weekend, it's finally quieted down enough for me to finish this one.  And after I get this out, I'll finally start putting together the guest recaps of Tinkerbell and Princess Weekends.

After our mad dash through the Family Fiesta 5k, jumping in Stephanie's car and rushing to Hollywood Studios, we ran up to the turnstiles just in time.  The majority of the group had already checked in to the meetup but they were still gathered at the entrance to the park and just starting.  Talk about barely making it!

After introductions to all of the guests of the meetup (I think we missed a few introductions and instructions), we jumped right into the run/walk with Jeff Galloway.  I had run through Hollywood Studios during Wine & Dine, and also for the two marathons, but it was definitely awesome running through the park while it was completely empty and just starting to wake up. 

Photo from Daniel
Photo from runDisney
Photo from runDisney
We dipped and weaved through the entire park.  I honestly can't remember if it was different streets compared to the races though.  Since we had shown up late, a lot of our run was catching up with some friends that were also in attendance, as well as meeting new people along the way.  We definitely surprised a few cast members that were in the costume area when we ran through the tunnel.  They were looking at us like we were crazy! 

Photo from runDisney

Heading towards Tower of Terror, we slowed down and finished our run/walk at the Theater of the Stars, where the Beauty and the Beast show is held. I think overall, the entire run was about 1.5 miles or so and we ran an overall 11 minute mile.

There were a few directors chairs set up in the front of the theater so we all filed down and took seats in the first few rows.  After getting some water and cooling down a bit, Bob Hitchcock introduced the first guest speaker, runDisney's official training consultant, Jeff Galloway. 

I always enjoy hearing Jeff speak and his passion for getting people up and moving is contagious.  I tried taking notes as fast as possible using my phone so I apologize if I missed any major details.  You can see me front and center in the official runDisney photo below laughing at something said.  My poor thumbs couldn't type fast enough!

Photo from runDisney
Jeff went through a basic history of how he got into running, making sure to point out that he used to be heavy as a child and gradually started losing the weight.  Speaking about the benefits of his run/walk method, he reiterated that you can enjoy running this way and it helps all of your joints and reduces running pain.

Meetup participants then asked a few questions and one of the first was about how you can constantly run and not get burnt out.  Jeff pointed out that it's all about making it fun.  First, make sure you are always running aerobically.  Aerobic running occurs when your body has sufficient oxygen and allows your muscles to have enough oxygen to produce all of the energy they need.  The opposite of this is anaerobic running, when your body doesn't have enough oxygen.  So pretty much don't push yourself to extremes on a regular basis, which will burn you out much quicker.

Jeff mentioned that running should be fun.  Go out and enjoy runs with friends so there isn't much pressure to compete.  He also saluted women for helping bring children into the world of running.  If parents find joy in running, it's more than likely that it will be passed along to their children. 

Another question that had people chuckling is when someone asked about trying to get rest before a big race.  Jeff even laughed and admitted that it's pretty impossible to get a great nights sleep the day before a big race.  Most people run quite well regardless.  He said the biggest downfall is that people worry too much about the lack of sleep they have before a race.  Then he made sure to point out that we were in Walt Disney World and we had to go out and enjoy the parks!

A few tips for any race weekend from Jeff:  Go through a rehearsal and start getting up earlier prior to race days to get your body used to the wakeup calls.  Don't over drink!  No more than 20oz in an hour.  Only have 2 to 4oz of water every 2 miles. 

 Next up was the always entertaining Tony Horton, of P90X fame.  Tony came out right away and said he wasn't a normal and regular runner.  But he did say that cross training programs can greatly improve your running ability.  Adding plyometrics and yoga creates a more durable running.  Tony commended the amazing community that comes out of running and agreed that running is more than an individual sport.  Even he wouldn't work out as much if his friends weren't around to motivate him.

One of the big questions to Tony was about nutrition and any suggestions he had.  Like I've read many times, Tony pointed out that fat, sugar, and salt are to blame.  The health crisis isn't because of lack of exercise.  Companies add flavorings and additives to food so that we keep going back for more.  He got a nice chuckle out of the group when he asked how many of us actually can only have just one chip!  So true!

Tony then went on to say that he knows that when life is stressful, we all have a tendency to cheat on our eating habits.  He suggested the 90/10 plan.  Chose the right foods 90% of the time.  Keep healthy food in the house and get rid of the junk so that you aren't tempted to snack.  It does take time to make a full transition and to let your body enjoy what real food tastes like.  What you put in your mouth will either extend your life or kill you.

Jeff jumped in agreeing with Tony and suggested writing down everything you eat.  Even if you don't analyze the list at the end of the day, you'll still be more aware of what goes into your body. 

Another question to Tony was whether bulking up hinders a person's running speed.  Tony agreed that it could and that each person needs to decide what is most important to them.  It's hard to have both bulk and speed. 

After a few more laughs, it was time for Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca from Survivor & Amazing Race fame to say a few words.

Ethan started first and  joked that the best way to lose weight was to just go on Survivor.  :)  He explained a little of his background and how the money he won on Survivor went towards his Grassroots Soccer program, which uses soccer to raise money and awareness to fight HIV/AIDS.  He also talked about his fight with Hodgkins disease and how dreaming about and running the NYC Marathon helped him get back out there again.  He eventually changed his entire lifestyle by eating better, exercising more, spiritually, and getting involved in the community.  He was amazed by the raw generosity from perfect strangers.

Jenna took the mic next and she was all laughs from the get go.  She never ran before meeting Ethan and wouldn't be running if it didn't include a trip to Disney World.  With her love of Disney, she convinced Ethan to run Princess.  She admitted that it wasn't easy for her to constantly eat perfectly and that it's all about balance.  Don't beat yourself up for eating incorrectly, just get back to healthy eating ASAP.  

Up next was John Phelan, Show Director for Disney Sports.  I'm sure the die hard Disney fans in the group were most exciting about hearing what John had to say.  Mr. Phelan is in charge of all of the entertainment on the course and making sure that all of the parts of entertainment work seamlessly together.

John explained that his wife started running originally and he joined her for 5k's to keep her company.  He now is constantly trying to find ways to keep runners motivated on the course but also maintaining that Disney touch.  He joked that he knew the sanitation area of the marathon course is the most thrilling and that area is always fun to perk up. You could tell that he honestly loved his job and he even mentioned that working with the Disney family is such a huge part of all of these cast members lives that they want to make it the best that they can so they can share the fun with the guests. 

He went over some of the current races and dropped some hints about the new Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  Granted this little recap is being posted WAY late so everyone has pretty much heard everything.  Expect to see lots of villains!

Oh, and did I mention he brought out his boss to say hi to everyone? :) 

After a few more laughs, it was time to head out of the theater for some photos with the guests and to get a group shot in front of Tower of Terror. 

Photo from runDisney
After all the photos were taken, we had another surprise waiting for us. We were all taken for a ride on Tower of Terror! A cast member came by and took us over to the side entrance. It was a great way to end the meetup!  Plus, of course, some of us had to buy the group photo.  :)

Photo from runDisney

Jeff is always a great person to listen to and has great running advice.  I feel like he plays it safe most of the time and doesn't say anything too controversial.  Not that there is anything wrong with that!  But hearing Tony, Jenna, and Ethan, it was a nice change of pace.  They were completely more candid, open, and didn't have the 'Disney filter' that people always joke about.  I thought all 3 were great additions to the meetup and hope that runDisney continues to change up the guest speakers each time. I was able to speak to Ethan for a brief minute while waiting for Tower of Terror and he and Jenna were friendly as can be.  You could tell they were definitely enjoying themselves!  Wishing Ethan a successful treatment and recovery and hope to see the two of them at more Disney races. 

The addition of John Phelan was great as well.  I would love to sit down with him for a bit and pick his brain.  Disney puts on some great events and the entertainment is what keeps us coming back for more.

The meetups seem to be getting better and better and it's always interesting to see what guests they're going to have next! 


  1. Jeff Galloway is great. For all my long runs, I follow his run'walk program. I've actually improved my pace for long runs since doing it. 5K's and less, I'll stick with straight running though.

  2. I'm going to a 3 hour Jeff Galloway running school on Friday... it will be like the Disney MeetUps on steroids, I guess! Hope to come out of it with a plan to get me through ToT, W&D, and Mickey XX.

  3. You got to sit next to Ethan on ToT! Soooo jealous, he's a cutie :)
    You're right about the different speakers. Jeff does have the filter (nothing is wrong with that!), but there was a coach at the W&D meet up I went to and he was definitely more candid!

  4. @James...the run/walk method definitely helps! I use it for anything more than a half marathon right now. I think it's a mental thing for me. I WANT to be able to run the entire distance but I know this is what's best!

    @Jen...have a great time! I would love that much time with him!

    @Heather...ha, everyone was making fun of me because they thought I planned it but it just randomly happened that way. I think I know which coach you're talking about at the W&D meet up and I remember hearing that he was much more candid too.

  5. Great write up Jenn. That sounds like allot of fun.

  6. The run/walk method has been so great for me post knee-injury! I would love to just run some day, but for now I'm sticking with it. I really enjoyed listening to Jeff at the Princess meet-up (which I would never have known about / tried for had I not read about your previous write-ups on the meet-ups so thanks!).

  7. So jealous I can never get to one of these because I can't monitor the Facebook and blog pages during work. It sounds like this was a fabulous event!

  8. Wow! So jealous you got to meet Tony! I just completed day 80 of P90x, he is so inspirational. So is your blog, I enjoy reading it :)

  9. @Bill...thank you! It was a great time!

    @travelwithemily... Everyone that uses run/walk absolutely loves it! And so glad you got to hear Jeff at Princess!

    @Amanda...thank you :)

    @running2bfit...Thank you! He was definitely great to listen to!