Wine and Dine appetizer aka pre-race fun!

Hey there, hi there, ho there! Mer here with a little pre-race recap.


Four of the six Scoot a Doot Chicks met up last weekend for the long awaited, highly anticipated runDisney Wine and Dine half marathon.

We were excited to see each other and our friends, both new and old. “Running time” seems to both fly and drag, seeming both at once. When you sign up for a race eight months in advance, you never know what twists and turns will come along during those months!

There are a few tried and true methods to our pre-running madness, especially when it comes to Disney. Read on!

1. Dress you up in my love

Costumes have become common practice at Disney races and as soon as the four of us signed up for this one, we began discussing our options! We settled on Mouseketeers because it’s pretty darn adorable (and pretty darn easy – says the girl who didn’t make the shirts).

Shirts were made with TLC by Brooke, skirts are from Sparkle Athletics, and ears are from the mouse!

Shirts were made with TLC by Brooke, skirts are from Sparkle Athletics, and ears are from the mouse!

Of course, my husband didn’t actually realize we were Mouseketeers until I said something in passing after the race and the light bulb went off in his head.


2. Visiting the Earl

Heather, Tracy, Mer, and Vic

Heather, Traci, Mer, and Vic

Whether it be the night before the race (as was the case at Tink) or the afternoon of the big race, we love carb loading with bread! I mean, to be fair, I just love bread in general but when I get to put a label on it like “carb loading” it sounds much more official, doesn’t it?

Sandwiches are a natural choice, especially when there’s an Earl around – we are talking royalty here, after all. While Downtown Disney was teeming with people, we were able to find a table outside and enjoy our meal and the company of each other!

3. Preening and being silly


Cam, Lisa and Meri


Brooke graciously offered up her hotel room to anyone who wanted to meet up before and eat a little snack, do a little costume prep (ie – we all had different pieces of Cam’s outfit who’d arrived the morning of the race from CA), and just be silly together.

One of our favorite Canadians, Lisa, came to hang with us and we all listened to music, figured out creative ways to spread almond butter on wheat bread (a Nilla wafer is a fantastic knife AND you get to eat the cookie after), and sort got hopped up on hanging out with each other. Once it was time to get on the shuttle to the start, we were downright punchy.

To the point where one of the security guards asked if we had been drinking. HIGH ON LIFE, SIR!

4. Texting feverishly with friends

Once you arrive at Disney races, there’s usually lots of time to hang out and wait for the race to begin. At the Wine and Dine this is especially true because everyone must be bussed to the start line and the shuttle service only goes until 8pm.

What’s a runner to do?

Well, if you’re me, you try and get all your people in one central location and bask in the sheer awesomeness that so many people you love are ALL AROUND YOU.



Heather took a short detour before catching a bus from EPCOT and Lisa joined her family to head to the start so we re-met up (after frantically texting each other, natch).

Lisa and Heather, maxing and relaxing

Lisa and Heather, maxing and relaxing

My new meetup friend, Meredith, also joined us!


Of course, the texts from outside the Disney World radius were blowing up my phone too! Darling friends like Keri, Amanda, and Anne who weren’t there with me physically but cheering from afar.

5. Hitting the facilities

Taken at Animal Kingdom, a few days prior to the race.

Taken at Animal Kingdom, a few days prior to the race.

When you’ve arrived at a race two hours prior to the start time and have been hydrating all day, it sort of goes without saying that you’re going to be visiting these bad boys. In my days prior to being a runner, I can tell you the number of times I had used a porta potty.


Now? Well, I pray for the best while waiting in line. I ask the person just ahead of me who is coming out of the little box if it’s bad (it’s NOT bigger on the inside). A little fair warning never hurts, right?

Good thing about a night race? You can’t see nearly as much in there! Plus Disney has little hand washing stations outside the rows.

I visited the porta pots twice prior getting into my corral and didn’t have to stop throughout the race. Additionally, a race photographer took a picture of Brooke and I together on the line so we’ll always have that memory together.

6. “Resting”

How do you rest while surrounded by fun, amazing people, and a DJ whose sole job it is to pump, pump, pump it up, encouraging everyone to get up and dance to all the songs they’re playing?

It’s not easy. My arms were itching to YMCA. However, my mind was saying, “Meridith, you should be in bed by now. You took it easy all day. Since you decided to sign up for a half marathon that starts at 10pm, and since your heel already throbbing and you haven’t even started running, mayhaps it’s in your best interest to plunk yourself down on the grass and wait.”

Which is exactly what I did until we were summoned to the corrals. It helped exponentially that my friends were also of this mentality as well and we all spent the time before the race the best way possible: together.

What’s your favorite way to carb load prior to a race? Have you ever ran in costume? What are your feelings on porta pots?

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?

Attitude of Gratitude

Every November there are trends that circle back around. NaNoWriMo for the authors and aspiring novelists. No shave November in support of the American Cancer Society. And of course, seeing many friends and loved ones share what they are grateful for each day on Facebook.


While I don’t express my gratitudes daily, I sincerely feel them throughout the weeks, days, and hours. As you might already know (if you follow our Instagram/Twitter/Facebook) I’m in Disney World this week with my family, prior to running this year’s Wine and Dine. And somehow, Disney makes me feel ALL THE FEELS, in a big way. They’re good like that. My heart swells, my eyes well, and I can’t help but look at my family and think they’re mine, all mine.


I’m grateful for my children’s unbridled enthusiasm which is always authentic and never forced.


And I’m extremely grateful that I have a partner who knows exactly what I’m thinking with just a glance, who will go along with my off the beaten path ideas (like grilled cheese for breakfast), and will make certain things happen for me because he knows that they mean a lot, even if they’re not always the most convenient.


Being down here in Florida has given me the chance to see a few of my favorite people and I’ve got more in store for me. Having the chance to spend a day with Brooke and her family was amazing.

We’ve had a few opportunities to spend long weekends together but this was the first time we had our children together, although I feel like we’ve been planning it forever. We knew that they would love each other as much as WE love each other.


We were not disappointed!


I’m grateful for new things… and things that are tried and true and don’t change. I grew up coming to Disney World and while it keeps evolving and growing, it still feels like “home”. Perhaps that’s why there’s such a well of emotions that are evoked every time I’m here. I spent my family vacations here, a college spring break (let’s not talk about that), my honeymoon. I’m a Mouseketeer, a dreamer, and a believer.


At the end of each day my little family talks about what our favorite thing was of the day. The kids surprise me with their favorites often times because it’s usually not what I would expect them to say. For example, at Hollywood Studios, Little’s favorite was the rainbow that appeared in the sky after a light rain.


And Pooks’ was becoming an Honorary Citizen in the historical One Man’s Dream, the story of Walt Disney. One of the cast members overheard him asking me a question about a first rendition of Mickey Mouse and through a little scavenger hunt, he was award this badge and got to sign a ledger.

I’m grateful for their inquisitive nature, for them wanting to know all there is and all there isn’t. Their relentless pursuit of knowledge keeps me learning, thinking and growing. And seeing things that I might otherwise not notice for lack of observance.


Victoria and I grew up on Disney, although when we were teenagers, we never had the opportunity to share the parks together like we do now. I’ve spent much of my adulthood vacations in Disney and many of them with her by my side and I’m extremely fortunate that we have been able to do so. (I just noticed that we usually take pictures with her on my right! Creatures of habit!)


The other morning, I was in Animal Kingdom when I got an email saying that someone wasn’t able to attending the runDisney’s Wine and Dine meetup and that I was next in line for the spot! I am so very grateful for the experience that I had last evening.

More about that to come but a quick summary: it was amazing from start to finish and I met so many really awesome, really genuine people. It was good stuff and hey, you know ALL THE FEELS I spoke about earlier? Yes. Those were out in full force. I get so emotional, baby!

The emotions will keep on coming all weekend, I’m sure. Along with my gratitude.

Tomorrow morning my kiddos are running in the kids races and their excitement and energy is just feeding my excitement; even though our vacation is nearly over in days, it’s still rich in experience.

To say that I’m  super excited for the next few days might be a slight understatement. People, there will be tackle hugs and tears and pictures (and we will lament that Jess and Bec aren’t with us). There will be meetings with new friends and seeing long-time friends, like Heather and Lisa. There will be squealing, there will be carb-loading lunches and light snack dinners.

And then, just when you’d think that it can’t get much better than that… it does. Because then, we get to run a half marathon!

Stay tuned…