11 January, 2013

Cigna Foundation Sponsoring Six Student Run Philly Style Athletes for WDW Marathon Weekend

After doing a ton of runDisney runs over the past few years, I started to notice the same sponsors over and over at all of the races.  Cigna has been one of the major race sponsors for awhile so when I heard about some of the healthy initiatives they're trying to push through their Cigna Foundation, I wanted to know some more.

The Cigna Foundation makes grants to charitable organizations that work in innovative ways to achieve one or more of these goals:

  • Promote Wellness—enabling individuals and families to take responsibility for their own health
  • Expand Opportunities—making health information and services available to all
  • Develop Leaders—leveraging education and life experiences to promote personal and professional growth
  • Embrace Communities—encouraging shared approaches to issues of local and global concern

One of the organizations that they work with is the Students Run Philly Style (SRPS).  SRPS is a program in Philadelphia that offers marathon training to help youth succeed in life.  They connect students with adult mentors who help them accomplish goals beyond their dreams, including the completion of a marathon. Since 2004, Students Run Philly Style has served over 2500 students, ages 12-18, from neighborhoods across Philadelphia.

Over 200 adult mentors, called Running Leaders from over 50 schools, recreation centers and community leaders will host Students Run Philly Style teams this year. Students train side-by-side with their mentors three days a week from March to November. Along the way, they complete eight road races, and engage in leadership and character development.

I had a chance to talk with one of the Running Leaders, Cedric Edwards, and pick his brain a little bit about the program and how his experience has been going.  Ced started with the program in 2008 by chance.  He had seen an email come through at Cigna asking for volunteers with a mentoring program. It sounded interesting and he had been wanting to get back in shape so this was a perfect opportunity.

While attending one of the presentations about SRPS, he listened to a story about a girl who joined the program.  Prior to SRPS, she was quiet and slightly overweight.  The program accepted her without any hesitation or requirements and 9 months later, she finished her first half marathon and was a changed person.

The program offers a ton of activities that keep the students engaged.  From the very first kick-off meeting every year, the students learn about courage, effort, and respect.  The leaders try to keep the students engaged after they break into teams later in the year when they form their smaller training sessions.

In Ced's first year, many of the students were veterans of the program and they all learned to help each other.  As the season went on,  the students were mentoring Ced with running while Ced helped them with the other aspects of the program.  With the help of the students, Ced ran his first marathon in 2008!

While Ced is technically the mentor from the students, I asked if there was anything that he has learned from the experience, and from the students.  Ced said that no matter what's happening, the program and students help keep each other motivated.  Everyone has commitments, whether it's work or school, but they all still show up for training three times per week out of respect for each other and the program.  They all realize that it works both ways.

Out of the many success stories from the program, Ced talked about one student in particular.  The student joined the program 4 years ago at age 12 and has just completed his first marathon this year (at age 16).  When first joining the program, he was slightly overweight and always said that he would never and could never run a marathon.  Yet he showed up at every single practice and was always motivated to keep going.  At their recent 20 mile qualifier run, the student and Ced ran together and he never gave up.  When he finally finished the marathon, his face was priceless and he turned and thanked Ced for his help.  Just seeing the change over the years has been rewarding.  The social and physical changes in many of the students is amazing and shows what a positive impact the program has on everyone that participates.

Another positive aspect of the program has been the family involvement.  SRPS encourages parents and family members to get involved with the program and has caused many families to run their first races together as well!  Having family and friends at events through volunteering or just cheering brings together the community and helps the students succeed.

So what does this all have to do with runDisney?

For the second year in a row, SRPS has is bringing 6 students to Walt Disney World to participate in Marathon Weekend!  To be selected to come to Florida, the students all entered an essay contest where they had to discuss what running means to them as well as what they would do with the opportunity if selected.  All the students have been running regularly and have ran either a half or full marathon in the past but never participated in a runDisney race.

Talking with Ced, I could tell it was an exciting event for both he and the students.  When asked what he looked forward to the most, we discussed the experience that this provides the students.  All of the participants usually only run in the Philly area so this will be the first time out of the tri-state.  As most of my readers know, runDisney isn't like other races.  It's a totally different crowd, different atmosphere, and a totally different experience.

Good luck to all of the students and mentors running!  Can't wait to touch base again and see how everyone's race went.  I'll be touching base again with Ced after the weekend dies down to hear what the students thought about the weekend!

** All photos courtesy of Cigna and/or SRPS ** 

09 January, 2013

New Balance and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Announce Multi-Year Strategic Alliance

Facebook and Twitter have been buzzing with photos and news of the new alliance between New Balance and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts!

New Balance and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts just announced a multi-year strategic alliance today that includes exclusive footwear (featuring Mickey and Minnie-themed shoes), running-specific initiatives and co-branding opportunities.

According to the press release, the alliance will bring New Balance’s footwear to our favorite home away from home, the Disney Parks.  As part of the collaboration, New Balance becomes the official athletic shoe of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  New Balance also becomes the official running shoe for runDisney race weekends and the official baseball shoe of amateur baseball events at the Sports Complex.

Also mentioned in the press release, and what peaked my interest....Future initiatives include the creation of maps for the running trails at Walt Disney World Resort and fitness programs for Disney resort guests interested in pursuing healthy options.  (** For the current WDW running trail maps, please see my page here)

To commemorate this alliance, New Balance created a men’s and women’s limited edition runDisney 860v3 running shoe that captures the spirit of two favorite Disney characters – Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

The Mickey shoe features the iconic mouse symbol on a red, black and yellow shoe, while the Minnie shoe was inspired by the female mouse's polka-dot dress along with red, white and yellow coloring.

The limited edition runDisney 860v3 will be available for purchase at the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Health & Fitness Expo from January 10-12, future runDisney Health & Fitness Expos, special events created jointly by New Balance and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts as well as branded pop-up shops located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Photo courtesy of runDisney

Photo courtesy of runDisney

What do you guys think?  Love them?  Hate them?  Running to the expo tomorrow morning to get them?? :)

08 January, 2013

WDW Marathon Homemade Pace Calculator

When runDisney changed the course for the full marathon this year, they never updated the runner tracking area of their website to incorporate the different route.  I was trying to figure out where to tell my friends and family to cheer me on and I was having a hard time trying to keep track of where we'll be at what point in time.

So, what did I do?  I introduce to you....  my WDW Marathon Homemade Pace Calculator!  I got a little bored in Excel and tried to get slightly fancy.  The calculations take your start time (based on corral) and your pace into consideration.  Figured I'd share what I did for anyone else in the same predicament as me.

Here's a screen shot of what it looks like.  Basic Excel spread sheet.....

If anyone wants to test it out and stuff, you can download the file here (Link is to a file located on Dropbox).

Here's what you need to know/do:

1. Enter your pace in cell G1.  HOWEVER!  You need to enter it as =TIME(0,11,15) if you want a pace of 11:15 minutes per mile.  Typing in "11:15" will totally mess up everything.  

2.  Look at the Corral Start Times on the right hand side.  Copy and paste your corral's start time into cell B2.  

I also added in when and what I'm going to eat, just for my own reference!

Let me know if anyone has any questions!  Anything else you guys think I should add?

I can't believe the races are THIS WEEKEND!  

02 January, 2013

Disney Running 101 Part 3: The Week Leading Up to the Race

Reposting the Disney Running 101 posts while we all get ready for marathon weekend in less than 2 weeks!  Let me know if I should add anything else to the list!  

For all of my Disney Running 101 posts, click here!  

T-Minus 7 days and counting (according to the blog post...NOT in actual days)!! 

Who's excited?  Nervous?  Freaking the heck out?  Yeah.... we all are, don't worry!  

This post will contain fun information for up until two days before the race.  There will be a whole other post about the day/night before the race.  There's also a whole post about the expo and what to expect. 

About a week out from the race, if you haven't already, start the packing!  Then if you realize you need stuff, you have time to head to the stores and not be frazzled right before you leave.  If you need a refresher of my packing list, click here to see Part 2 of Disney Running 101.

As for food/nutrition during this week, don't go too crazy.  It's recommended that you start to increase the percentage of carbohydrates in your diet.  Don't just simply start shoving down the bread though!  Eat the same amount of calories that you've been normally eating during your taper but increase the ratio of carbs slightly.  Normally what I do is try to have lean protein every meal with normal servings of rice, potatoes, or pasta.  

Also begin hydrating!  You can’t adequately hydrate just the day before. The water you drink starting on day 5 before the race is very important. If you don't drink enough water, it's possible to be carbo-loaded but not well hydrated. 

If you are flying to your race, they say to bring a liter of water for every 2 hours of flight time. Even then that might not be enough, but it will keep you from getting too dehydrated while being in a pressurized cabin.  By eating normally on these days before the race plus hydrating well, you'll have stored the energy needed to complete the race!


The sleep you get the week before the big day, especially days 4 and 3, is also really important.  Even if you end up wide awake all night prior to the race or even if you only get 3 to 5 hours of sleep, you'll be fine as long as you've rested before that.  One less worry, right?  I usually toss and turn for a long time before a huge race so I know the feeling all too well.

Two Days Before the Marathon

If you want a traditional pasta party, you should do it 2 nights before.  There's new studies out that say your carbo loading should happen two days prior instead of the night before the race.   I've tried it and I do feel a difference when done right.  I also did the pasta dinner the night before the half last year and that also seemed to work so don't stress TOO much if you're still planning on doing the night prior.  Do NOT overeat though!  A giant bowl of pasta and a huge salad with lots of roughage are not recommended - you totally need moderation.

A note about carb loading at Disney... at one time I had heard that every sit down restaurant creates a separate 'runner meal' that they have on the menu for runners over the weekend.  The past few years though, I didn't see it ANYWHERE I went.  Not sure if I was supposed to ask for it or not but I didn't see it.  Naples at Disneyland though, did have a specific runners menu that most of us ordered from.  

I will say though that Disney is one of the most accommodating places when it comes to customizing meals for allergies and dietary needs.  If there's something that you would like but don't see it on the menu...AND if it's fairly easy to pull together with ingredients you think they have on hand... ask for it.  I've never heard of them ever saying no.  If you have a specific allergy or need though (dairy, gluten, Kosher, etc) please call Disney Dining and have them add the request to your ADR.

For example... Christina and I ate at Mama Melrose at Disney Hollywood Studios to carb up.  Looking at the menu, they have some yummy dishes but a lot of it is either fried or creamy, which I knew wouldn't sit well in my stomach.  I asked for their famous Chicken Parmesan but requested they use a piece of grilled chicken instead of the typical fried chicken.  They happily obliged and it was delicious!  Don't be afraid to ask! :) 

Try to also reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption.  It'll just dehydrate you more.  Some people need their coffee the morning of a race so stick to what you normally do.  Oh...and did I mention to drink plenty of water?  Not sure if I mentioned it.... ;)

And here's the biggie if you're doing Disney... Don't go crazy in the parks!!! Take it easy!  Much easier said than done, right?  I know its still 'vacation' and you're at Disney but TRY not to go commando.  Leisurely wander the parks, take long breaks, sit down to eat.  Wear sneakers around for walking...no Crocs, flip flops, Uggs, etc.  You want support for your tootsies!

Please don't do what I did in October of 2010 for Wine & Dine.  I didn't listen to any of my own advice and seriously went commando and park hopping both days leading up to the race as well as race day!  Plus wore flip flops the first day around the Magic Kingdom.  My feet were SCREAMING at me and were NOT happy on race day.  I also don't think I hydrated enough and definitely didn't eat well the two days leading up to the run.  :(  Puking for an hour in the medical tent was NOT the way I wanted to end my race!!!

So there's Part 3!  This one isn't as exciting, I know.  The next few will hopefully be more informative, promise!  :)

01 January, 2013

Here's to an Amazing 2013!

Hope everyone had an amazing and safe night last night!  We kept it low key and just hung out at a friends house for the festivities.

Photo from Disney Parks Blog

Last night was also the end of the Raw Threads Cindy Tank Giveaway!  I loved the response the contest got and can't wait to have someone enjoy these shirts as much as I do.

If anyone wants to get their own Raw Threads shirt, go check out their collection!

Using Random.org, the winner is Lori from Toenails are so Overrated!  Congrats, Lori!  Hopefully one day we'll run into each other at a Disney race.