Wine and Dine Evening Meetup

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

They're setting up a house for me in Innoventions, right?

They’re setting up a house for me somewhere around here, right?

Although I must say, EPCOT is pretty darn close to home at this point! Last week I was there all of Monday, Thursday night, Friday, and Sunday morning (1 am, to be exact). And while I’m back at home now, the whirlwind of last week is still fresh on my mind.

I got the unexpected but amazing email on Wednesday that I was invite to attend the runDisney Wine and Dine meetup the following night. Once I got my (Donald) ducks in a row, I was set to join in the meetup!

The evening started with a check in outside of the EPCOT gates; we handed over signed waivers and received a park pass, runDisney shirts to wear for the meetup (burgundy color – so fun!), a Test Track Fastpass and a wristband that allowed us in to the closed off area for IllumiNations.

While wandering into the park, Kristen and I found each other and became fast friends. Once we were sporting our new shirts, we headed over to Test Track to check it out. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been on the ride but it’s completely different now!

runDisney gave us a lot of free time to wander the park and check out different things prior to the start of the meetup. After visiting some of the Food and Wine festival booths (Griddled Greek Cheese, for the win!), we made our way to the runDisney IllumiNations area. There we met other meetup attendees, including a fellow Meredith!

Me, Meredith, and Kristen

Me, Meredith, and Kristen

Once we all gathered in the roped off area, we chatted with the people around us and met Brian, a cast member attending his first runDisney meetup. I’m always a bit nervous about meeting new people but everyone at these events are always super fun, super friendly, and looking to connect with fellow runners!



The show was incredible and once it was complete, the families visiting EPCOT headed toward the exits, while we made our way around the World Showcase to the America Gardens Theatre. Once we arrived we were treated to a spread of food, from hummus and veggies to the Terra Market’s Vegan Trickin’ Chicken Curry and Vegan Wine, both from the Food and Wine Festival.

Soon after we settled, runDisney’s Sports Media Director, Darrell Fry welcomed us to the event. Faron Kelley, joined him on the stage and they kicked off this portion of the evening with a couple of amazing giveaways.


They welcomed two favorites to the stage, Tara Gidus and Jeff Galloway, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting previously at the Tink meetup. They discussed fueling for a night race, running in the evening and how runDisney races are really for every type of runner. It’s always great to hear from the duo; they play well off of each other and you can tell that they have a good friendship!


Tara and Jeff

We were treated to meeting a few of the chefs and a sommelier from the Food and Wine Festival. As the race is called the Wine and Dine, it was very interesting to learn more about the different food kiosks, in particular the Terra Market which is all vegan options.


Next up were the good people from New Balance! This partnership with runDisney was new for 2013 and it’s continuing next year. We got a sneak peek of the 2014 runDisney shoes and the super cute inserts they are offering next year.


New Balance showed off some of their new, highly visible in the dark apparel and then brought superstar Olympian, Jenny Simpson, to the stage (who actually hails from Brooke’s Florida hometown).

She, along with the New Balance rep, invited representatives from each branch of the Military as it was Veteran’s Day weekend.  There was a standing ovation for these men (I was busy clapping and tearing up, so no picture).


After the presentations, the gang showed up! Goofy, Minnie, and Chef Mickey joined us for some shenanigans!


Thanks to Meredith for this pic!

Minnie was loving the Sparkle Athletic skirt I was sporting (thanks Kelly!) and showing me her own skirt. Adorable! And then the group of us joined together for a pic.

Brian, Meredith, me, and Kristen. (I'm sure you can figure out the others!)

Brian, Meredith, me, and Kristen. (I’m sure you can figure out the others!)

Once the runDisney folks got the word that the park was completely clear, we were able to do our run around the World Showcase! The plan was to run the loop around one and half times, bringing us to the fountain at the end of the run.

Thanks to Mer again for this shot!

Thanks to Mer again for this shot!

Prior to the run, I got a chance to chat with Jeff Galloway for a minute and let him know how well his run-walk method has been working for me, especially after injury. It’s what I followed when I got back into running during last month’s 10k race and have continued to use. He is seriously the most gracious person.

I happily joined the run-walk group for the run around the Showcase and we were off with 20 second intervals! I was dragging a bit by this point but since I’m usually in bed by 10pm at the latest, I figured I was doing pretty well. Plus, it gave me a taste of what the half would feel like!

When you're running in the dark, you get pictures like this!

When you’re running in the dark, you get pictures like this. Hence, not too many pics from the run!

The four of us stuck together during the run, joking and having a great time! Soon it was over and we took group pictures that runDisney was kind enough to send along.


The run-walk group


The whole group – 125 attendees!

Our night came to a close at midnight with a champagne toast and a wish for happy running over the weekend.


Champagne? Don’t mind if I do!


Have you been to a meetup (runDisney or otherwise)? Done a night race? Our Chick Chat of the Wine and Dine half is coming up in the next few days. Were you there?

Don’t be dopey about Dopey

I’ll admit it. I’m intrigued.

Much of me wants to run the inaugural runDisney Dopey Challenge in 2014, which was announced last week. That’s four races totaling 48.6 miles over four days of the annual Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January.

The challenge includes a 5k race on Thursday, a new 10K race on Friday, a half-marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.

I’d like to run it. But should I?

My concern – training.

Yes, some runners will simply register for Dopey because they adore runDisney events and its accompanying medals. Dopey will reward finishers with six medals. Six. That’s a lot of bling for a long weekend.

But runners will also need to log a lot of miles to gain that prize.

But all runners – novice through experienced distance runners – must do one thing to prepare for such a mission. They must respect the distance. They must prepare properly for the race.

Earlier this year, I ran the Goofy Challenge – a marathon and a half over two days. The experience was just that – a challenge. But I trained for months. I ran slowly. And I walked far more of the course than ever before.

And it was fabulous. 39.3 miles followed by another half-marathon one week later. I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.

I don’t know if I should say the same about 48.6. I’d like to. But should I?

Former Olympian and distance runner Jeff Galloway, who is also a marathon and endurance training consultant for runDisney, said he is creating a training plan for runners wishing to attempt the new series of races.

“While almost anyone can adapt to this series of runs, it helps to have been running regularly, starting April 1,” he said.

Galloway said his Dopey training plan will alternate between minimal running one week and four running days in a row the subsequent week.

Minimal: This week will include 30 minutes of running on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 30 to 45 minutes on one weekend day.

Four-day prep week: Mileage will start with minimal amounts and build every two or three weeks, to race distances in December.  The first three days of these weeks will be mostly walking.

“The Dopey has created an amazing response,” Galloway said. “I’m already looking forward to the weekend.”


Jeff Galloway in January, as he runs the WDW Marathon using his run-walk-run method. I ran into him on the course.

Runners considering Dopey should also consider whether they can finish each race within the challenge within the allotted time frame. Disney races give runners a more generous cushion than most distance events of up to 16-minute miles.

Galloway offered a training tool, his magic mile formula, to help a runner  to determine his or her predicted race times, based on a one-mile run. While obviously the tool does not factor in stops to pose with dozens of Disney characters along the course, it gives runners a basic idea of her or her finish time – and a glimpse at whether or not the runner should attempt the challenge.

Upon running the Goofy Challenge in January, Galloway offered some advice: Walk as much as possible, drink lots of water, and slow down.

It’s not about speed, he said. It’s about completing all 39.3 miles.

The same is true for Dopey.

Registration opens April 9 and Dopey’s registration fees starts at $495.

Will you be participating in the new Dopey Challenge? Why or why not?