As I laid in bed staring at the ceiling of our Disney World resort room, I remember thinking “I have not gone to sleep at 9:00 p.m. in a really long time.” As a self-proclaimed, night owl, 9:00 p.m. was about 3 hours earlier than my norm, however there I lay pondering the past four months of training, dozens of hours of planning, and all the excitement of that cute little brown-haired boy from my favorite Disney commercial in the 90’s who exclaims to his mother, “We’re too excited to sleep!” With my alarm set for a mere 6 hours later, a crazy 3:00 a.m., the prospect of participating in my first ever runDisney event was all I could think about. The Dark Side was calling, and it had enticed my entire family into trying the Star Wars Half marathon. Instead of starting off with something easier like the 5k or the 10k we went all in with the half. As our carefully selected and organized costumes were already laid out to facilitate the shortest prep time in the morning, I couldn’t believe the moment was almost there. With the previous late night of packing and pre-vacation house cleaning still weighing on me I finally gave way to sleep.
Most of my family had never run a half marathon before and prior to our decision to do our first runDisney event, none of us were even running on a consistent basis. We were basically going to work our way from the couch to a half marathon, and there was no better motivator than that of a looming Sith Lord. I tell you this because I want you to be encouraged that I truly believe anyone, at any level of training (yes, even the couch potato, binge watcher) can start training for a runDisney event and have an amazing time. And what better time to start than right now!
What makes a runDisney event special is not just the theming, the costumes, the characters, and the fact that it is at WALT DISNEY WORLD, but that you will find people of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels having a great time together. The goal is to finish and have fun, and if that requires a run-walking strategy, you will be far from the only one. And the atmosphere is so magical and electric that no matter if you are the first runner or the last, people you have never met before will be cheering you along the way, with of course the prodding of some of your favorite characters. After our runDisney vacation in April I knew I wanted to do it again. As someone who goes to Disney World often, this trip provided an amazing change of pace and offered a new level of excitement. However, what really pushed this vacation over the edge into truly memorable was the opportunity to share it with another family.
These wonderful friends were getting ready for the Army to relocate them during the coming summer and agreed to participate in the runDisney vacation with us as kind of a last hurrah. I cannot even begin to explain what a difference it made having encouragement and enjoyable companionship not only on race day but all throughout the training process. Someone to share the high’s and low’s with, to push you when you didn’t want to go out and run, or to huddle together with in the starting corrals eagerly awaiting the start. It is a trip we will always remember, not just because of the Disney magic but because of the friendships forged in preparation, training and accomplishment. While the Star Wars Half Marathon started out our week-long trip, it really set the stage for what would be another amazing Disney vacation. And as someone whose passion is trying to help deliver amazing Disney experiences to families, I knew I needed to take this to the next level.
Arriving home from the trip was the start of a whirlwind of events, from my daughter’s (our oldest) high school graduation three weeks later (Disney themed party of course!), to college orientation shortly after that. Before we knew it our friends were hugging us good by and they were on their way to the next location Uncle Sam had assigned them. A moment marked with many tears, we knew that the bonds forged, in part thanks to runDisney, were lifelong.
What does all this have to do with now and the ConciEARS team? Great question! It was probably about ten minutes from the time that their car pulled away before my brain started turning, thinking about “what’s next” and “how do we take this to the next level?” This was about the same time that I was getting ready to work on my Disney 180 segment I record for our friends over at The Sweep Spot podcast. I love Disney podcasts and through our partnerships I have come to meet amazing people and families who are some of the most passionate Disney fans on the planet.
One of those families is Erik and Brandy Johnson, veteran runDisney experts who have given ConciEARS the privilege of helping plan their last 5 Disney vacations. As the ideas were churning I knew that I had to reach out to them both about leading a ConciEARS runDisney group for next year. Well as they say, the rest is history. It took one short meeting and they were both on board, coming up with ideas, and excited about the prospect of meeting other great Disney fans who wanted to explore this runDisney phenomenon.
So I am excited to present to you the first ever ConciEARS & Friends runDisney Group. Pulling together our families from years of vacation planning, combined with all our great podcast and blog partners (The Sweep Spot, Disneyland Weekly, Disney Chris and the Jiminy Crickets Podcast, The Mouse and His Pals) we are going to have a blast working towards a one-of-a-kind event with fellow Disney fans. And we are going to do it in an encouraging, educational, and uplifting manner, no matter what your running experience/preparation.
If you have ever wanted to try a runDisney event but didn’t have the support nee
ded, we are here for you. If you have done more runDisney events than you can count but want to make some amazing friends along the way, we are here for you. And if you just aren’t sure about any of this…come on in and join the fun…again, we are here for you. And this year there are two great opportunities to get involved, the Star Wars Rivals Weekend April 4-7th, 2019 at Disney World or if a trip to the Magic Kingdom is just not in the stars for you this time, join us right where you live and train for the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon which runs from January till March. These are two exciting events that work together (stay tuned for more to follow on that) and can create memories of a lifetime. We hope you will jump into hyper-drive and come on over to our runDisney Facebook group and get involved. And as always, your friendly ConciEARS team is ready to help you with any vacation planning needs you may have. Good luck and “may the force be with you.”