it was a stroke of luck (and a quick trigger finger on my RSVP email) that got me into the disneyland half meet-up early friday morning of the big weekend. seriously, when it comes to getting into that elite group of 50ish excited run disney enthusiasts, seconds matter. one literally has to stalk the run disney twitter and the disney parks blog to catch the announcement the moment it goes up. from posts i was reading on facebook, folks whose emails had a timestamp of maybe five minutes later were too late to get in.
this is serious business, people. like, for real.
i was even more excited to find that my pal delovely details, who's as big a run disney fan as i am, managed to get in - as well as my fellow team superhero who i got to spend the last meet-up with. as much fun as i knew this would be, anything is always more so with friends!
on days like this, even the 4:15 wake-up call isn't enough to dampen my enthusiasm. i was battling a nagging cough that i couldn't shake, but who cares - i was going to a run disney meetup. nothing was going to keep me from that. i had time to stop at my local starbucks drive-thru for some caffeine and still managed to make it down to anaheim with time to spare.
DD found me right as i was accepting my goody bag with a new run disney shirt in it to wear, and we headed off to one of the disneyland hotel restrooms to get changed. from the weight of the bag, i could tell there was fun stuff in there, but i was too excited to stop and check it out. i shoved my other shirt inside and handed it back to the run disney staff to hold while we went on our 2-ish mile run/walk.
now, remember that this was just days after the VMAs - where my love JT accepted a special award and brought out the very best boyband of the 90s for a brief reunion. i LOVE n*sync. and i'd seen tweets the night before that announced something that made me melt into a puddle right on the floor:
dude. i was gonna meet joey fatone? holy crap! and sure enough, i looked up and there he was:
and as we gathered together to watch a presentation by new balance on proper running form, i may have found a spot right behind him. but he spotted sean astin and jeff galloway off to the side and hopped up to join them. and no, i didn't follow him over. i'm no stalker. hmph.
the new balance folks were really fun, and gave us a lot of great information. we all practiced what we were learning, marching in place, following their instructions, figuring it out.
how-evv-errrrr...when the presentation was over, i snagged this.
moments later, we were joined by a special guest who informed us that we were late! so late! for a very important date! this year's disneyland 10K/half marathon weekend was alice in wonderland-themed, so this was just a taste of what was to come.
when we received our confirmation emails from tony at run disney, we'd been given the choice between a straight run through the parks and a slightly easier run/walk using the galloway method. i think you can guess which one i chose.
we split off into the two groups and the runners took off through downtown disney on their way to disneyland.
we weren't too far behind them. jeff galloway took the lead and raised his arm at the start of each run/walk interval. it was an easy pace - a 30-second run alternated with 30 seconds of walking. while i've tested this out a few times during short-ish training runs, i have yet to try it for a real race. i'm thinking i may follow this for my upcoming nike womens' half up in san francisco in october.
pretty soon we were going through the gate and into disneyland.
cast members all along the route stopped to cheer, give us high-fives, and shout "good morning!" although they also do this for the actual races, this was super cool because we had the parks to ourselves. we scampered up main street towards the castle, and then swung a right along the matterhorn and headed into fantasyland, where we had a special guest waiting for us at the teacups ride.
our group was cut in half - some of us got to hop into a teacup for a spin, while the others had a photo op with alice. and then when we were all done, we got to switch places so that everyone was able to enjoy it all. DD and i opted for the ride first. i love her so hard for being a ham for the camera just like me.
it was pretty funny watching a number of people try to squeeze into a teacup with joey.
afterwards, he and ali vincent smiled with alice. they both have shows on the live well network - hers is "live big with ali vincent," his is "my family recipe rocks."
we took off again, passing nemo's submarine voyage and heading through tomorrowland.
then we found ourselves back in the courtyard between the entrance gates to both parks, heading into california adventure.
it's all kind of a blur for me, but i do remember jogging alongside joey for a good chunk of time. we chatted about run disney, his tv show, and yes - what it was like at those VMAs. it was really cool to hear his stories, and hi - this meant i was one degree away from JT. !!!!!! but celeb status aside, he is a really nice guy. super friendly and fun to talk to. oh, and i got him to do this (ignore my super sweaty appearance and general awkwardness):
i sent that to the teen and she damn near lost her mind. heh.
inside california adventure, we found ourselves at the front of the pack. this meant that the photographer, riding backwards on a golf cart that led the way for us, was right in front of us. and so when joey said "jump," well...
best. pictures. EVER. later, i posted a cropped version of the top picture on twitter and got all giddy again when i received a notice that it had been "favorited" by another familiar name:
dude, WUT. and it was definitely *that* JC - look, it's his verified account! i die.
back to the run - we wound our way through cars land and then into bugs land.
(by the way, yes - i am totally mortified at how sweaty i truly was. but in my defense, it was HOT. and incredibly humid. hey, sweat happens.)
then we trotted past the tower of terror.
our run ended - where else? - at the site of the nightly mad t-party, where alice and the mad hatter waited for us to arrive.
it's not a party without some grub.
when i spotted sean, joey and jeff sitting together on a bench with an empty one right in front of them, i mean...yeah. duh.
and a nice shot of them with our team superhero representatives, too.
before the speakers did their thing, we were gathered together for some group photos. here's the "nice" shot:
and the "yay run disney!" photo.
faron kelley, the director of sports marketing for run disney, came up to show off some of the RD bling from 2013. also, contrary to rumors and general wishful thinking, he refused to give us any hints about any new races anywhere.
a rep from abc came to introduce us to a new spinoff of "once upon a time" - which DD and i both adore - and it's, of course, wonderland-themed.
this is cindy lynch, the 2012 women's division winner of the disneyland half.
tara gidus, run disney's official nutritionist.
the run/walk king himself - jeff galloway.
ali vincent got up to speak to us as well.
so did sean astin...
and joey fatone.
i like this shot.
the fun wrapped up with a few giveaways - laptop cases, new balance running shoes, travel bags like the one i won at the tinkerbell half meetup, and the best part - a free registration for any 2014 run disney event. DD was over the moon when sean astin called her name for the best prize of the day.
here's me with bob hitchcock, the guy who makes all of these meetups happen:
one more with my new friend joey fatone:
with jimmy, the run disney photographer who took pretty much all of the non-blurry pictures in this post. his reaction was kind of funny when i asked to take this. heh. not used to being on this side of the camera, eh, jimmy?
and of course, with my partner in crime.
by then, the park was open to the public and it was time for us to skedaddle outta there. this poor guy was tasked with getting our attention and directing us out. i'm sure it was a lot like herding cats.
and so a dejected line of blue shirts trudged out in (mostly) a single-file line through hollywood land, up buena vista street, and out of the main gate.
oh! and as i walked along, i heard my name being called from somewhere behind me. i turned around and found my friend longhorns, who i'd met at the tinkerbell half. we're totally twitter buddies, and it was nice to see her in person again.