A year ago, I was watching the events of Princess Weekend unfold from my computer – through Facebook and Disney boards, for the most part. No, I wasn’t running in the event, but I had just committed to myself and my sole sister that I would be running in 2013. As a card-carrying Type A personality, I was drinking in all of the information and educating myself on all things runDisney. All part of the mental training, right?
One of the things I quickly learned about was what some people call the best kept runDisney secret: the race weekend Meet-Up. Every race weekend, runDisney stages a small and exclusive Meet-Up for select runners. The participants get to attend an early morning run through the closed parks with celebrities and runDisney trainers – namely, Olympian Jeff Galloway who is the official runDisney trainer and the creator of the popular interval running method. You can find his specialized training plans for each Disney race event on the runDisney website.
The Meet-Ups vary slightly by race weekend, but all seem to include plenty of magic! The event is free and often includes a breakfast, runDisney swag and character photo opportunities. You get tips on preparing for the race, fueling pre and post event, and other information that can help maximize your race day experience. It is the ultimate party for any runner and Disney enthusiast. It seemed to me like the perfect, most magical way to kick off a race weekend!
Now, the event may be complimentary but there is a price: getting a coveted spot requires an investment of time, patience and some technical saavy that would rival James Bond. It certainly helps if you are plugged into the social media world as a blogger as well as active on Twitter – after all, runDisney hosts these events with the sole purpose of rewarding their most loyal followers and asks only that those followers promote the event through their channels.
These events are generally announced the week before a race and it then becomes a different kind of race to see who has the fastest fingers to respond to runDisney first. Thanks to my “research” in watching every race weekend through social media, I knew what had to be done. I will even admit that I had my email drafted and ready last summer for this event! Yes, waiting for this announcement can make a princess a little crazy….
This morning, I finally got to send that email. Unlike other race weekends, where runDisney teases about the day they will announce and then tweets a link to the Disney Parks Blog, this Meet-Up was different. The announcement went up very quietly in the middle of the night on the Disney Parks Blog with no social media announcements or fanfare. Curveball!
Luckily, I had a partner in crime: my friend Laural who you may remember from the 10-miler race I did back in November. We were both anxiously trying to get a spot in this Meet-Up and we figured two heads were better than one so we teamed up in our pursuit. We had secret codes in place on our phones to cue the other one of any activity and spent countless strategy sessions trying to get ourselves in the best possible position to win a spot.
And this is where it pays to be part of a team. I had went to bed with my computer and mobile phone by my bed, poised for action as soon as I woke up. Of course, that would have been too late seeing as the sneaky announcement went live in the middle of the night. Laural was on it though, thanks to her youngest waking her up early. My phone began to beep and pull me out of my sleep, then began to ring. It was the best and shortest wake up call of my life. It only took one word: GO!
We sent our emails and crossed our fingers. I could not get back to sleep so checked out all of my running groups online to see who else had discovered this gem – there was a bit of chatter, but not much. It was so early on a holiday, and still there had been no tip of the hat from runDisney. And so we waited.
As the world woke up, we saw the online boards and Twitter start to light up. Mass confusion was ensuing as people realized what had happened. All we could do was hope we had been quick enough, but there was no way to tell.
And then, around 10am, I saw someone post in one of my running groups that they had been accepted. The disappointment was crushing. I had not received an email. I quickly asked when she had sent in her email and her instant reply gave me pause – it was a few minutes later than mine. At that very moment, a message came in to me from a name I did not recognize, but will never forget, with the subject line “Congratulations from runDisney”…instantly I was screaming, shrieking, crying, jumping up and down! And it only became heightened when I confirmed that Laural had also been chosen to attend. DREAMS DO COME TRUE!
So here is what we, along with 48 other lucky princesses, will be doing on Friday morning at 7am in Epcot (from runDisney):
Planned for Friday, February 22 at Walt Disney World Resort, the early morning running event will celebrate the inner princess in all our runners, as well as share training and health tips.
Actor and running enthusiast Sean Astin (“Rudy,” “The Goonies,” “The Lord of the Rings”) is planning to attend, along with fitness star Ali Vincent (“The Biggest Loser”), runDisney’s official training consultant Jeff Galloway and dietitian Tara Gidus.
Two celebrated runners will also be on hand, with defending Princess Half champion and back-to-back Disneyland Half winner Rachel Booth, along with two-time Paralympic track and field medalist April Holmes.
For those wondering, Princess Alana is enjoying a very short but sweet trip due to her teaching commitments and did not try for a spot in the Meet-Up. However, I’ll be there with my sparkle on and will have a full recap when I get home from the most magical place on earth. In the meantime, I’ll be posting updates to our Facebook page and Twitter – follow me there!