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RunDisney’s Disneyland Half Meet Up

by Meghann on August 31, 2013

I made it to Disneyland!!!!

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I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be here! I headed straight to the airport after work on Thursday (after counting down the hours to my flight all day!). The flight itself was great. I managed to sleep the entire time and woke up in LAX around 9:30 p.m. local time (and 12:30 a.m. Florida time). From there, I took the Disneyland Resort Express (which wasn’t as “express” as I was hoping) to my hotel and finally made it to bed just around midnight. I went straight from the bus to my hotel in the pitch black of the night so I didn’t even get a peek at Disney before heading to bed.

I was kind of spoiled because my first views of Disneyland were a little different than most. I had the amazing opportunity of attending the Disneyland Half Meet Up with RunDisney this morning. The meet-up required a super early 5:15am wake-up call and the rare chance of running through Downtown Disney, Disneyland, and California Adventure park with a small group of die hard RunDisney fans before anyone else was allowed to enter the park. I got to see Disneyland for the first time with the sun rising behind it and it was amazing.

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

If you are not familiar with the RunDisney meet ups, they are a VERY cool concept. A week or two before race weekends Disney Parks Blog will do a shout out to anyone interested in attending the RunDisney meet up for that race. Potential participants will then email RSVPs hoping for a coveted spot. RunDisney does a few teasers via their social media networks, so followers know it’s coming. Usually the spots fill up in 10-15 minutes!

The RunDisney meet ups are FREE to all participants and gives followers a chance to run with special guests like Jeff Galloway and Ali Vincent. There’s also the added perk of running through the parks before they open to the public.

I attended a RunDisney meet up before the Princess Half in 2012 and had a blast. I’d run through Epcot for plenty of races, but getting the chance to run with such a small group (most meet ups are limited in participants) was such a different experience.

Today’s meet up was extra special because not only would I be running with the great folks at RunDisney, but I would be seeing Downtown Disney, Disneyland, and California Adventure park for the first time ever!

So, yeah, I was so excited that I barely slept and was bouncing my way downstairs well before I needed to. Luckily, that worked in my favor since I had the chance to meet Ali Vincent in the lobby before heading over to the meet up.

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(photo credit Heather)

(Also great seeing Heather and Carissa!)

I watched Ali’s season of Biggest Loser and was rooting for her in every episode. She’s just as sweet and kind in person as she was on the show and I’m so excited to hear about the wonderful things going on in her life and career (she even has a new show on the Live Well network). She’s running the Dumbo Double Dare this weekend, too, and she just signed up for the Dopey Challenge (4 races!) in January. More power to ya, Ali!

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

The Disneyland Half Meet Up started in Downtown Disney at the Sorcerer’s Hat. Everyone in attendance had to sign a waiver and received a blue RunDisney tech tee to wear for the run.

Before we started running New Balance gave us a quick lesson in running form. The key take away was to always remember the four elements to great running form:

  • Posture
  • Midfoot
  • Cadence
  • Lean

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

From there we split in two groups (Jeff Galloway’s run/walk group and the straight running group). I went with the straight running group since it was the smaller group and seemed more my running style.

I made a point to take in every part of the run. We were only going two miles, but I knew it would be a good two miles. I felt like a little kid opening a present for the first time. I was at Disneyland!

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

We went up Downtown Disney then made a left in to Disneyland Park. Right before we turned down the main street, Carissa told me to brace myself for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. She told me it’s a little different than Cinderella’s.

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She was right, it was smaller, but it still had its own magical quality to it. For some reason I thought we would go around it (running through castles is saved just for races, right?), but nope, we headed straight through. How cool is that?!

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(photo credit Larry Rhodes)

We made a right through Fantasyland and were greeted by a special friend – Alice!

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

Alice invited us to take a break from our runs and ride Teacups.

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Don’t mind if we do!!

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(p.s. I was so surprised to see Monica! She had told me a month ago she would be out of town, but ended up being able to make it to the meet up! Loved running with her today. We ran the Walt Disney World Marathon together back in 2010.)

We took a quick spin in the cups, then headed on our way to California Adventure Park.

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

I was the most excited about seeing Cars Land. I followed the development of the area through Disney Parks Blog and was happy to finally see it in person for the first time. The imagineers really did a great job bringing the movie to life.

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

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We ended the run at the Mad Hatter Tea party, where the Mad Hatter was waiting for photos.

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Then, breakfast was served.

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Can you spot the hidden Mickey? πŸ˜‰

In honor of the Alice and Wonderland theme of the run, they had scones and breads out to nibble on.

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While we ate, we heard from some special RunDisney guests (Jeff Galloway, Ali Vincent, Sean Astin, Joey Fatone, etc. ) and even got a sneak peek at the RunDisney Medals for the rest of the year (and start of 2014!).

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

I love a good medal.

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

And the icing on the cake was when I got my photo with Joey Fatone.

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When asked about Sunday’s VMA performance he said it was some of the best 30 seconds of his life. πŸ˜‰

In all honesty, he was a really great guy and so genuine and funny. My inner-14 year old self was doing somersaults all morning around him. It’s funny how some school girl crushes will never die – *Nsync for life!

The meet up was so much fun. Thank you RunDisney for hosting!

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(photo credit Jimmy DeFlippo)

It was also a great way to kick-off the RunDisney weekend in Disneyland. I’ve been on cloud 9 since I’ve arrived. I can’t wait to explore, race, and just enjoy being at the “other” Disney. This is a trip I’m going to live up every minute at.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MissPinkKate August 31, 2013 at 9:04 am

Were your expenses on this trip paid by Disney?

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2 Meghann September 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I paid for my travel to Disneyland, but the hotel room was comp’d.

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3 Megan (The Lyons' Share) August 31, 2013 at 9:25 am

I love how Disney adds all these special touches – such an amazing place to run a race! The Disney Marathon was my first marathon (in 2010, the same – cold – year you did it!), and I would definitely recommend it as a first for anyone! Good luck with the races, Meghann!
Megan (The Lyons’ Share) recently posted..Ridiculously Healthy “Spaghetti and Meatballs”

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4 Jessica August 31, 2013 at 10:50 am

Meghann this looked like it was amazing!
Jessica recently posted..New Nike Ad: Just do it β€” Possibilities

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5 Jill C. August 31, 2013 at 10:59 am

What a cool experience! I am definitely going to make it a goal to get on one of these RunDisney Meet Ups! I want my first marathon to be the Walt Dinseyworld Marathon next January (2015), so hopefully I’ll get to have one of these experiences soon πŸ™‚
Jill C. recently posted..I’m a 1L…I Don’t Get a Life.

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6 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun August 31, 2013 at 11:00 am

What a great way to see Disneyland!! Looks awesome! Good luck in the half!!
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7 Laura @ Backstage Balance August 31, 2013 at 11:47 am

Looks like a great time! Meghann, is that Suzy Favor Hamilton I see in the run group photo (green printed skirt)? Good to see she’s back on the running scene.
And OMG Joey Fatone – awesome!
Laura @ Backstage Balance recently posted..Dirty Girl Mud Run’s Homecoming

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8 Steph @ Steph's Miles August 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Enjoy your time in Disney and participating in the race! I’m dying over your chance to meet Joey Fatone and your sneak peek into next year’s medals! Those Run Disney meet ups sounds great – I never realized those were available! There are some hardcore RunDisney participants out there πŸ™‚

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9 Runner Girl Eats August 31, 2013 at 5:06 pm

This looks awesome! I had no idea Disney did this! Also, I would be such a giddy girly mess around any Nsync-er. 14 year old me is super jealous of you right now!
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10 Brittany August 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm

If I saw any member of *Nsync, I would lose my mind. Looks like you had a blast!

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11 [email protected] August 31, 2013 at 8:34 pm

As usual you are torturing me with the Run Disney posts – so want to do one!

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12 Mrs. Swan August 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Whoo hoo! Can’t wait to see more pictures!
Mrs. Swan recently posted..Molded eggs

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13 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs September 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Sounds like an amazing trip, and such a cool experience! Congrats on your races!

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14 Jessica September 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm

That’s so neat that you got to meet Joey! Who didn’t get excited about ‘Nsync’s VMA performance =) I’ve never done a runDisney event before, but they always seem to do a really nice job making it fun and including celebrity-type people.

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15 Ashley September 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm

So cool! Can’t wait to hear about the race now!
Ashley recently posted..Recap of New York # 1

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16 Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen September 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

wow how awesome! How did you become a part of RunDisney
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17 Katie September 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Out of curiosity…does Disney (or any of the other trips you get invited on) allow you to bring your hubby? Or would it be out of pocket for him? I would be jealous if i had a significant other who gets to go on all these fun events!
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18 Meghann September 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Derek almost came with me to Disneyland. Instead he went to the FSU v Pitt game in Pittsburgh with his brother.

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19 Krissy @ Shiawase Life September 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’d say the spots fill up in more like 2-3 minutes!

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20 Sonia the Mexigarian September 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

N Sync for life. yesssss. Argh, I really want to do a Disney run!! Those medals look super cool. I remember doing Grad night at Disney and it was so much fun having the park to “ourselves” but you truly had that experience.
Sonia the Mexigarian recently posted..Marathon Training Week 2

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21 Elizabeth September 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Fingers crossed that I get to attend either Wine n Dine or Tink meetup!! Thanks for the lovely post (which reminds me I need to upload my photos and post some race reviews).
Elizabeth recently posted..Bain is a Betty

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22 Pavement Runner September 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm

oh man…. this looks like way too much fun!
Pavement Runner recently posted..Dumbo Double Dare: Disneyland 10k and Half

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