Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for all the visits on my website and the kind comments on my first blog post! I'm so happy to be able to live out my passions, and share them with you all!
Today's post will encompass a little thing called the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo! During each runDisney event, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex opens their headquarters (located in Walt Disney World) to invite runners to shop the latest fitness merchandise, high tech gadgets, and nutritional products. It is mandatory for all runners participating in a runDisney event to pick up their official race number and packet during the days leading up to each race. This was honestly one of my favorite parts about race weekend, because the enormous complex was brimming with excitement.
When I signed up for my first runDisney event, I never expected the huge turnout like there was on race day weekend. I had signed up for the Princess Half Marathon in February of 2016 never having run a half marathon or trained for any sort of running event of this magnitude. Before I attended the Expo, I first went to my hotel (located on Disney property) to check-in. Normally, Disney will allow guests to check-in prior to the time stated, but if your room is not yet available, they can keep your luggage tucked away safely for you. This comes in handy if you're eager to get to one of the Disney parks and don't wish to tote your bags around. You can also download the Disney World app, sign in, and request a special check-in time if you booked your stay through one of the Disney resorts. (The perks of being a Disnerd)
Once we checked in, my friend Jackie and I jumped in her car and took off to the RunDisney Expo. The Expo runs for three days (Thursday - Saturday) and is open at different times depending on the day. Make sure to always check the runDisney website for details, and set an alarm on your phone (it opens fairly early in the morning). Typically, runners who sign up for the 5k and Kids Races will want to be at the expo on Thursday or Friday morning. You can expect heavy traffic at the Expo all day on Thursday. The 10k and Half Marathon are run on Saturday and Sunday, which means those runners have the luxury of choosing Thursday, Friday or Saturday (if you're a half marathoner).
Jackie and I got to the Expo on Saturday at around 1 PM. I was nervous because I had heard that a lot of the vendors were selling out of their products, and I had my eye on the popular Disney New Balance shoes. As it turned out, a lot of the official runDisney merchandise was restocked each day of the expo!
If you're looking to avoid heavy crowds, try going to the Expo on Saturday if you can. I remember the parking lot being very full when we pulled in, but a lot of people were heading out at that point. The best part about going late, was that we didn't have to wait in line for our bibs! Wait time for Packet-Pick Up can sometimes take up to one or two hours! Once you enter the complex, there are signs everywhere about where to go and what to do. Jackie and I made our way to the first building where you receive your bib, a race packet, and official runDisney merch. If you wait until the last remaining hours like we did, this will be the fastest line you'll have to wait in, guaranteed.
After picking up the necessities, we then headed to the main building where all the fun and commotion was. Disney releases their official race program a few weeks prior to each race, so my advice would be to highlight the vendors and speakers you wish to visit by order of importance. You really won't want to waste time, and if you have a special item you want, definitely make it a priority to get to that booth first. Also, make sure you factor Expo shopping into your Disney budget, because the place is a treasure trove of fitness goodies.
Walking out onto the landing of so many well known vendors was like heaven for me! We immeditaley started down the stairs and stopped at one of the first booths, which was "Raw Threads". This company makes amazing runDisney shirts that highlight every princess and her style. I really liked Ariel's "Leg Day" tank, but I already had my race day shirt picked out prior to visiting the Expo. (Runners, if you don't have an outfit by race weekend, Disney has you covered...you can find every kind of race outfit at the Expo! Bring cash.)
Jackie was able to snag this amazing Belle-inspired tee to wear on race day! Along with "Raw Threads", there were so many other fun booths to visit. We stopped by exhibitors that sold snacks, sunscreen, sweatbands, ear buds, deodorant, running skirts, and more! I could definitely see how a large crowd would make any visit to the Expo less enjoyable, but for the most part we had a great time and got everything we needed/wanted. All the vendors and employees made purchasing any item quick and relatively easy. I was able to try on and purchase my runDisney New Balance shoes in the size AND design I wanted amid the chaos! (Plan to size up for New Balance sneakers, and plan to spend at least $100 per pair.)
Another really cool part of the Expo, were all the photo ops! One thing I definitely wasn't expecting, was the chance to meet Jeff Galloway near the runDisney booth! Jeff is an American Olympian and life-time runner who provides the training plans for every runDisney race. I stuck to his training plan like glue, and I came out of race day barely sore and feeling GREAT. (Jeff's website ww.JeffGalloway.com is super valuable and his training methods produce great results.) One of the best takeaways I learned from Jeff, was the ability to factor in a Magic Mile during my training. A Magic Mile is completed about every two weeks of training and is a one mile timed trial. His formula states that if you run a measured mile at a challenging pace, you can then use that time to predict your outcome during further distances. His website even hosts a Magic Mile calculator, and directions on how to pace yourself through every type of race. Thanks for the signed bib, Jeff!
Once we had done all our shopping and grabbed a handful of snacks, we decided it was only appropriate to do a pre-race pic with our runDisney shirts and bibs! Cheesing hard as per usual.
I couldn't think of a more exciting way to spend the afternoon. We probably spent a couple hours wandering the sports complex before deciding to head back to the hotel for a bit. This was our first half marathon, so we decided to spend the rest of the day leisurely shopping at Disney Springs. If you're planning to visit a runDisney expo AND visit a Disney park in the same day, you will want to make sure to plan accordingly...(get to the expo early and make feasible Fastpass and dining reservations). If anything I've learned over the years of going to Walt Disney World, it's that you plan for a lot but actually get to do very little. Make the most of your time by utilizing Walt Disney World transportation, the Disney Parks App, and FastPass plans according to your purchased tickets. It's all relatively simple if you remain calm and don't actually run anywhere until race day. ;) Oh, and definitely wear comfy shoes...ALWAYS. :P