Yeah, Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is here!
I finally made it to Florida (a bit later than I was planning) after a Hurricane, a Nor’easter, not having power for a week and a half and my original flight being canceled…but, I’m here!
Once I arrived, I met up with my roomies for the weekend (Jenn, Dan and Pat – who I actually met at Wine & Dine last year!) who were already over at Epcot working their way through the Food & Wine festival. We ended up making it a pretty early night since we had to be up really early for the runDisney Meet-Up and Tweet-Up event the next morning!
About a week before each of their race weekends the runDisney team puts out a call to all participants through social media and the Disney Parks Blog to RSVP for the opportunity to attend a special pre-event meet-up. I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the Wine & Dine Meet-Up again (I got to go last year before my first race ever!). Jenn, Dan and I rolled out of bed for our 5:30am wake up call and arrived at the main entrance of Epcot by 6:30am to “meet-up” with the other participants.
The runDisney folks gave us a quick overview of what to expect for the morning and we started off with a 1.7 mile run around the World Showcase. There were two groups of runners, one led by former Olympian and runDisney trianing consultant Jeff Galloway which used 30 second run/walk intervals and one straight run group (that I went with) led by Anton Van Zyl, 2-time winner of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.
We finished the run at the Germany pavilion and headed inside to hear from our guest speakers for the event.
First up was Jeff Galloway who talked a bit about his run-walk-run method and the training plans he provides for runDisney race participants (available on runDisney.com), according to Jeff anyone can make it through a half or full marathon pain free and with a smile on their face!
When I first started running I used Jeff’s run-walk-run method to build up my mileage and it really worked great for me, I love his “can do” attitude and how he really makes running a distance race attainable for anyone!
Next up was Anton Van Zyl. Not only is Anton a 2-time winner of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon (**update – Anton won again this year, so make that 3-time!!), but he recently competed in the Kona Ironman Triathlon! Anton’s message for us was to make sure to have fun and enjoy the race! He told us that he’s recently taken a step back to simplify his training (he’s stopped using a running watch that feeds him constant data) and encouraged us to simplify our race and not over think it.
(I should mention that since this is a Meet-Up and Tweet-Up we were all encouraged to tweet, Facebook and share everything that was going on with our social media groups as the event was happening!)
After Anton was the newest member of the runDisney team, nutritionist Tara Gidus (aka the Diet Diva!). Tara spoke to some of the challenges of preparing and fueling for a night race (i.e. don’t eat a big meal too late in the day!) and reminded us “it’s not just what you eat, it’s how you eat”. I loved that Tara wasn’t one of those intimidating nutritionists, she admitted that she makes dietary mistakes herself and told us not to stress too much, that “there is no perfect”.
Lastly, Tara introduced Chef Steff who was going to be doing a culinary demonstration for us (it is the Wine & Dine race after all!). I was definitely excited when I saw the recipe cards they gave us and saw what he was making – spaghetti pie! Honestly, I thought spaghetti pie was something my grandmother invented…apparently not, apparently Chef Steff’s grandmother had a hand in it too!
While Chef Steff was showing us how to make his spaghetti pie (a great runners snack – pasta and eggs / carbs and protein! It’s like an Italian energy bar!) they passed out samples for us to try! It was sooo yummy! I loved the red pepper flakes, gave it a little kick!
After our spaghetti pie breakfast we headed outside for a meet & greet with the one and only Mickey Mouse!
I had a great time at the runDisney Meet-Up and I’m glad I got to go for a 2nd year in a row! Well, it’s 6:30pm on Saturday night (race night!) – we’re all rolling out of bed from our naps and getting ready to head over to the race start! Race recap coming soon!
Chef Steff’s Spaghetti Pie recipe: