Disney lovers come in many different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, backgrounds and on and on but Disney lovers also come from many different hobbies. We’ve featured agents who love photography, who love to dress up, and those who love to shop. But what about those poor unfortunate souls who love to run at Disney? Well, we have some of them as well. The runDisney series and weekend is always one of the more popular events during the Disney year as runners from all over emerge on Mouse Town and show our their hard work by completing races of various mileage. And we have an agent who is “Perfect” for this discussion:
Meet Ashley Oldham (Boo). From Lexington, KY (Go Big Blue!), Ashley is a school counselor, wife and momma to twins, a Believe Agent and a dedicated runner. Where does she find the time, the energy, the passion, commitment and devotion to excel at all three? She was kind enough to pump up Brian Pavlick on a recent video interview as he considers his first runDisney event in the future. Full video is posted in the YouTube link above and highlights from that interview are in the questions and answers below:
When did you discover a love for running?
I grew up dancing from age 6 and my dad was a ranked distance runner. So I was either dancing or running on the weekends. I would participate in the kids’ races and then pursued it for fun in high school and college. But when I started teaching, I would run as a stress reliever and would do that every day. I love distance running and prefer it over sprints.
Did you run distance events prior to runDisney?
I did several local 5K and 10K races. I love that the running world is truly approachable with all ages, demographics, body types, speeds and styles participating. My first half marathon was the 5th Anniversary of the Princess Half Marathon. A little pro tip – anniversary races at Disney are EXTRA MAGICAL!
Do you participate by yourself or with a group?
My first half-marathon ws me running but I had my cheer squad (my mother, my brother and my husband). I treated myself and stayed at the Grand Floridian for my first race. But I almost missed my race! Because I ran by myself, I didn’t have someone like an agent or a fellow runner to help me know the start times, corrals, transportation, etc. When I saw the race started at 5:30am, I thought I’d get there at 5:00am and just show up and run. Well, I realized I might miss the race and so I ran 15 miles that day instead of 13.1! I was lucky but I won my race before the race!
How can an agent help you sign up for a race?
You can book on your own but they sell out very quickly. Agents can get up early and they can usually sign you up before general registration. You have to have a vacation package to book the races through an agent but why not stay on property, use the transportation and then play in the parks when you’re done.
What is the check-in process?
If you’re used to big races, you know there are packet pickup times and they are usually a part of a large expo. Disney blows it out of the water. You meet famous trainers, pick up race merch, give you some bubbly, and then you can pick up some new gear. We spend as many hours at the expo as we would at a park!
What are the final preparations?
They have training plans and the prep starts well ahead of schedule. Plus there is certain packing and planning for races. Are you running in costume? Make sure you have that ready! Don’t do anything new on race day. Fuel the same way you have been during your training. Then, the alarm rings at 3:30AM (at least for me) and I’m ready to go. And when you get there, you’ll see a DJ, tons of people, it’s basically a 3AM block party. The build-up to running is some of the most exciting moments and may be more exciting than the actual race for some.
What landmarks do you pass when you run?
5K is through EPCOT and the World Showcase. You see cast members and characters. But 10K is my favorite. You run the Boardwalk as the sun is coming up and then running back through EPCOT. The half-marathon goes through Cinderella’s Castle. I always see people getting engaged in that spot during the races. It’s so sweet and magical! When else can you run through a castle with 23,000 people?! For the marathon, you run through all four parks. It really is as cool as you would hope!
What are the keepsakes you receive for running?
The accolades of your cheer squad and tight hammies! But you also get a shirt, a bib, and a medal. We do it for the bling! Again, anniversary years are very special and they have incredible keepsakes for those events. And I’ll always have my costumes. Yes, I do dress up because life’s more fun in costume! I have been “blue dress” Belle, Cruella de Vil and Snow White. I have a friend who makes my costumes and they are running appropriate. Others will wear full-on outfits that would be impossible to run in but they look fun. But for different challenges you receive different medals. But also my memories of running the Dopey Challenge (5k, 10K, Half and Full Marathon in 4 consecutive days) and the Glass Slipper Challenge (10K and Half Marathon in 2 days) 10 weeks after delivering my twins are my ultimate keepsakes.
How can I prepare now for the next runDisney event?
DO NOT go too hard too fast! Run a short 30-45 minute run two days a week. On Saturday, run a longer run, possibly around 5 miles. If that’s too much to start, cut it in half and slowly go. Make sure you add in non-run days where you either cross train with weights or, just as importantly, take that Sunday day of rest. You do not have to run every day. But if Disney releases a new race series, jump on it and you yourself can be a perfect too!