Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why do you run...runDisney?

Here is the answer I submitted today!  Why do you run?

I run for fun! I love being out among other amateur athletes have fun running and if there are costumes involved all the better! I have met some pretty amazing folks online through running e-communities and spending time with them at destination races is a fantastic experience.  

I do all of my training solo and run by myself on race day as well, but I am constantly running into folks I know along the course.  Sometimes it is just a "hi", maybe a photo, but other times we run a mile or two together until I inevitably stop to take a picture.  

With Karla Bruning during WDW Marathon '13

I really enjoy documenting the races I run.  I take pictures of the scenery, other runners along the course, and I stop for all the character photos when I am lucky enough to be at a runDisney event!  During my last race I heard a lady commenting on the crazy folks who stop for pictures just as I pulled off to take a shot of runners circling the top concourse of Gillette Stadium.  I love the picture and the special way I got to experience the place!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Disney's Magic of Healthy Living Initiative: TryIt

Food: fuel vs. flavor

As athletes we need fuel. As people we want it to taste good.  At the Disney Social Media Moms Conference I was introduced to Disney's Magic of Healthy Living Initiative and their TryIt campaign.  TryIt rolled out with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.  You could find well marked offerings at the food stands around Epcot.  Lucky for us we could find TryIt dishes at most of our events.  I of course explored them with my own interests in mind - a mix of flavor and fuel.  

The Saturday nights dinner was hands down my favorite! We were dining al fresco and the food was tasty and fun! My favorite dish of the entire conference was the Avocado and Black Bean Salad! It met all my flavor desires and is pretty amazing as a fuel source.  Part of me just wanted to eat three plates of the stuff and call it dinner!  I don't know if they serve it anywhere on property, but I nominate it as my ideal food for runDisney race weekends and wish event catering would sell tubs of it at the expo!  

My second favorite dish of the conference was the Diced Grouper Escabeche! I would never have guessed this.  It is not something that I would ever have ordered off a menu, yet I really enjoyed it.  I also loved the presentation.  I asked if I could take one of the bamboo serving sets home with me (unused).  I was originally going to take it to work and put it on my desk, instead I am using it to hold earrings on my bedside table.  It is a happy reminder of an amazing experience.

The chefs and servers were amazing throughout the entire conference, but I really enjoyed getting to interact with them at our dinners.

By the third evening, my niece and nephew were really embracing the freedom the event provided.  They were hunters and gatherers seeking out tasty morsels that they could bring back to our table and enjoy!

Disney's TryIt initiative was part of our formal presentation during the conference.  For more information on Disney's TryIt and TryAthlon initiatives check their website Disney's commitment to health living is proudly displayed on their menus using the Mickey check mark.  It is only a guide in a healthier direction, we must make our own decisions based on our own dietary needs, but it demonstrates that they are trying to offer healthier options.  Life is a balancing game and food is a major component.  Sometimes my body really needs a milk shake, particularly if I feel I am running too lean and I have a marathon the next day, but most of the time there are healthier options.

runDisney, if you are reading, please have a TryIt food court at the Wine & Dine Half expo! It is a pairing that is meant to be! And PLEASE serve the Avocado and Black Bean Salad. I know it is pushing the season, but I bet you can do it.  Athletes need fuel that will sustain them and the TryIt offerings were wonderful!  

I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at the Walt Disney World Resort May 9-12, 2013.  The conference fee permitted me access to special events and experiences made available to conference attendees and their families.  I am voluntarily writing about these events and experiences.  These are my own thoughts, opinions and photographs unless otherwise stated.

runDisney lovers training e-team rosters on FB

You never run alone with runDisney! There are characters around every corner!
Are you running a runDisney race between now and #PrincessHalf '14? If you let me know which one/s I can add you to the runDisney lovers training e-team roster/s for those weekends. If you are not planning to runDisney during that window I can add you to the Dreaming of runDisney team. 

I post a daily training mileage update with the totals for each race weekend. You can comment with your training miles there and they will be added into the totals for your race e-team/s. Your miles will count toward the totals for each race weekend you are running. 

It does not matter which distance your are doing for a particular race weekend. Everyone's training miles count! You can post your miles daily or weekly it is up to you. Either way is fine! Welcome to the runDisney lovers training e-team!

Come on over to my FB athlete page at "for the love of Disney running" and join us as we train for runDisney fun one run at a time!

Just leave your name and which races you are running on the pinned FB post and I will add you to the roster in the morning.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Disney Soccer Academy

Through connections at Disney Sports I was able to sign my daughter up for a one day Disney Soccer Academy camp experience that was provided complementary by Midwest Soccer Academy.  My opinions are my own.

During our June family reunion trip to Disney my youngest got the chance to practice her love of soccer at Disney's Soccer Academy!  Disney does four, four day session soccer camps for kids ages 6-18.  Although we were arriving in the evening of the 3rd day of session one, my daughter was still able to test her ball skills on the fields of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Hess Fields for the last day of session one.

Getting ahead of myself by about 6 hours
 and relieving the big surprise up front...
at the end of day four Mickey came out to join the campers on the fields!
Check in was up at the field houses.  Some parents dropped their kids off and headed back to their cars.  Other parents hung around to watch their kids play soccer and wait for the special guest. I stuck around for a couple of hours and they joined my older daughter for lunch before returning to see my kids playing soccer with your know who!

The staff was great.  Each kid was set up with a Disney Soccer Academy shirt and a Puma soccer ball.  The staff were all clearly marked in easy to identify shirts of their own.

Glen Buckley is the on field manager.  I could not resit a pic...classy shirts , smiles and all.  He kept the kids organized and motivated when they were in large groups.  In total there were around 75 campers for session one.

The kids were all divided up based on their age.  My daughter was in the second group.  They made sure the kids had plenty of water breaks and boy did the kids run for it when they were announced!

They had about 2.5 hours in the morning to work on ball skills.  The skill of the day was short passes.

They also had time to meet new friends.  I was somewhat concerned that my kid was entering an established camp social situation on the final day, but sports bring people together!

A T-shirt and ball shot! They all got one of each! Mine lived in her shirt for the rest of the trip! She even wore it at the water parks as a rash guard. It's's soccer...wear it proud!

In addition to a coach for each age group the camp always has one professional soccer player on hand to interact with and inspire the kids.  Aaron Hughes was on hand for Session 1.  When we arrived we were taken down to the academy's trailer to get the correct shirt size and we had a chance to chat with Aaron before the day really began.  Turns out he has two daughters who much prefer ballet to soccer.  He was amazing with the kids, very accessible and engaged, as you might expect for a dad with kids there age.

That is Aaron with the yellow pinnie at his waist.  They were playing a game of capture the pinnie.

The kids were planing really well together, but they really got into it when a boys vs. girls game of capture the pinnie was announced.  The girls got Aaron on their side!

You should know that Disney contracts the Soccer Academy out to Midwest Soccer Academy out of Michigan.  Tony Shard is in charge of the operation and he was wonderful in helping to make this one day camp experience possible for my daughter.  I was somewhat concerned like I said above, about her jumping in on the final day, but he assured me that other kids attend for less than the full four days usually due to their families park schedule.  There were quite a few international campers in my daughters group.

Relaxing after lunch, before heading out to the fields for more.  Lunch is included in the camp experience.  I did send snacks along with her and of course water, but I don't think she ate the snacks and they had plenty of water and cups for the campers at the fields edge.

The kids had a Q&A session with Aaron Hughes after lunch.  The questions went something like this:

How old were you when you started playing soccer? 6 or 7
Why did you start playing soccer? Because that is what kids do back home.
How many red cards have you received? I am pretty sure the answer was zero.

In the afternoon the groups showed off their skills for each other.  Here they are trying to knock the balls off the cones.

The older kids did speed passing drilled and Aaron joined the groups.

Then it was Mickey time.  Mickey went to each group and spent some time with them on the field and then gathered with the campers for group shots.

Mickey jumped right into the game helping the goalie out on defense.  This was a highlight of the who experience.  She actually got to play soccer with Mickey!!!

And then take a bunch of pictures.  Group 2s coach was Tom Skeath.  He kept the kids going in a very relaxed way which was welcome especially given the June heat in Florida.

At the end of the day the campers received certificates and were able to get Aaron's signature.  Instead of doing an autograph book this trip we went with an autograph mini soccer ball!  I highly recommend branching away from the books.  She can have the ball out in her room on display with there other soccer mementos.  

Then it was time for individual shots with Mickey! 

There is always time for a hug with Mickey! She was so happy and I know this experience is one that she will remember for a very long time.  There is a good chance it will be her top Disney memory for a very long time!

For more information check out and

Monday, July 1, 2013

Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 - holiday racing at it's best!

You all know how I feel about holiday races...I LOVE THEM! Are you racing this holiday week?

I will be repeating a race I ran last year! Are any of you going to be out there with me?  I have not decided if I am heading up tomorrow to get registered or on Wednesday (race day).

Running back to Gillette Stadium during the 10K in 2012

Do you want to hear a little about the race and the event?
"The Finish at the 50 event is a must do. You will run directly into the stadium onto the field to the cheers of thousands of fans and see yourself on the giant 48 feet wide HDTV screen. Your race finishes on the 50 yard line inside Gillette Stadium at Patriot Place! Stick around to celebrate Independence Day with a spectacular fireworks display above Patriot Place. Be sure to sign up early as places will be limited and we expect this race to close out. Patriot Place is home to exciting attractions like The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon, CBS Scene Restaurant & Bar, Showcase Live and Bass Pro Shops.  Visit to learn about all the shopping, dining and entertainment options you can enjoy on event day."

Here is my blog post from last years event.

We could set up a pre and/or post race meet up...anyone up for fireworks?  How many races have a full on Fireworks Spectacular afterwards?

Here is the events website:

Registration will be open from 3pm - 7pm tomorrow (Tuesday) and Noon to race time on Wednesday all in the plaza at Patriot Place by The Hall and the ProShop. There are still bibs available! 

Note: the event is covering my entry in exchange for sharing all this fun with you all!