Week In Review – Summer Holidays Week 5

This was week two of my 4-week plan to improve my strength and fitness before returning to work. I followed a similar pattern to the week before and fitted anything else I needed to do around that:

Monday – PT session with Steve + Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – PT session with Steve
Thursday – 5 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun open sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

As with the previous week, I have only included yoga classes but did do some home yoga on all the other days.

My Monday session this week was mainly body weight exercises e.g. the TRX as opposed to using free weights. Although my focus hasn’t changed, Steve does vary the exercises so my body can’t get too used to what we are doing. That probably explains why each session feels like it’s pushing me as I don’t know what to expect each time. That has to be a good thing.

That evening I had Hatha yoga. The room we use is part of a theatre arts group and we arrived to find they had installed mirrors on the wall so it was like a fitness studio. It’s been a while since I did yoga in a room with mirrors and it was interesting to observe my body in different postures as it meant I could self-adjust a little more. Sometimes you don’t feel that something isn’t quite right but it’s obvious as soon as you see it! Our balance posture was Eagle and for once I felt quite well balanced (usually my balance is better on my right leg than my left. I’m working on it).

On Tuesday I headed out for my usual 4 mile run and for the first time in ages I really felt like I had my own legs under me again. I honestly don’t know whose legs I had been running with, but they were rubbish! Finally the sluggishness and weariness had gone. A good thing too since I wanted to gradually lengthen my runs again and running on heavy, weary legs is miserable.

Back to the studio again on Wednesday morning for my arm session. How am I supposed to take a photo when Steve is chucking stuff at me? (It’s ok, it’s a really light, foamy kind of ball).

And later that day I caught the kitties being all cute ❤️

Thursday was another run and this time I opted for 5 miles so as to vary things a bit (I’ve been running 4 miles on Thursdays for most of the year). I kept the pace easy and really enjoyed being out in the sunshine.

This particular Thursday was the 1st of August, therefore I turned the page on my calendar. What a shock I got to see a cat very similar in appearance to Morven. Not quite the same, but enough to give me a start as I turned the page over!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Ashtanga class that evening gave me an interesting update on my progress so far with my strength training. I found that I felt really strong in Wheel (remember when I used to really struggle with that one?) and had the sense that I could hold it for longer than the usual 5 breaths. I also managed a brief headstand, holding the posture for a couple of breaths before losing the form, so I’ll keep working on building that one up again.

Friday was another strength session with Steve. And another “interesting” photo! I think he tickled me right as I took it 🙄

Since it was International Beer Day, we made sure to mark the occasion over dinner that evening. It would have been rude not to!

For this parkrunday I was down to pace 28 minutes and Steve was RD so that meant it was better for me to run an “open sandwich” (i.e. run there and have a bacon roll in the cafe afterwards while he processed the results then head off in his car to get the food shopping). I think I slightly mis-calculated my pace since we are still on an alternative course due to council works on our usual course and it is a little longer. I based my pace on what I would run on the usual course to come in slightly quicker than my time, but on this course I was about 3 seconds too slow. Oops! Still, I’ll know for next time as it looks like we’ll still be on this course for a while.

I was a mermaid for this parkrunday, just because!

Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Sunday run was 10 miles and while my pace is still not quite where it was, I felt comfortable over the distance despite running fasted and forgetting to take a gel out with me. Apparently I’ve forgotten how to organise myself for longer runs these days! Still, what a difference from a couple of weeks before when the last mile or two of my 10k run felt like I was wading through treacle on tired, heavy legs. I’m pretty happy when I can just head out the door and churn out 10 miles reasonably comfortably and I’m more or less there now so happy Allison! I did get kinda wet though, hence the face.

It’s great to be feeling so good again thanks to rest, sun, workouts and running. I do hope it lasts!

How are you getting on with your current goals?
Do you like to eat before a run or do you prefer to just head out?

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Friday Finds – 23rd August

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Hello! Sorry for missing my Friday Finds post last week. The kitties threw a bit of a spanner in the works as one of them was unwell and had to stay at the vet for a night, which really knocked my routine off. Everything is fine now, no need to worry, and when I finish catching up with my Week In Review posts the details will be in there for those interested.

But now let’s get to a bit of reading material to start your weekend…

First, a story I’ve seen shared online a lot in the last couple of weeks. We have seen a growing number of ultra races being won outright by female competitors and that’s exactly what happened at the Green Lakes Endurance Run 50k. Runner Ellie Pell won the race, thus being awarded both the prize for the overall winner and the first female. So far so good, however the organisers had expected the winner to be a man, so when the first placed male finished (in second position overall) there was no prize for him. If I’m honest, I’m not sure how to feel about this one. On the one hand, I’m thrilled that there was a female winner, but on the other hand it irritates me that this was so unexpected. What are your thoughts?

Next, let’s turn to a story I’m keeping an eye on at present. I’m quite excited to follow Eliud Kipchoge’s new attempt to break 2 hours in the marathon and it was recently announced that Norway’s Ingebrigtsen brothers, who have made a real name for themselves on the track, will be part of the pacing team. This could be shaping up to be a really exciting event!

Speaking of marathons, it looks like Strava has once more studied its vast store of data to come up with some advice for marathon training, as well as for forming healthy habits. I don’t think their conclusions really surprise me (although the headline is maybe a little misleading), but a reminder is never a bad thing!

Someone who has spent a lot of time training is Max Glover, who recently completed a marathon whilst pulling a 1.7 tonne BMW!! He undertook this crazy feat as a fundraiser after a friend’s illness, and there are just so many things to love about this story: he ran wearing an ancient pair of Converse shoes that he had to SUPERGLUE the night before; he only trained for 2 weeks to get ready for the challenge and he covered the 26.2 mile distance in a little under 22 hours! I don’t think I could move a BMW as much as 26.2 centimetres, so this is an amazing thing to accomplish. Well done Max Glover!

And finally, if you’ve ever wondered who would win in a race between a parkour athlete and a police dog, here’s the BBC to answer the question for you. Who do you think it will be?

Happy Reading,
The Running Princess  

Week in Review – Summer Holidays Week 4

Safely home from Florida (and more or less back in the right time zone again) my focus for the remaining weeks of the school holidays was to kickstart my training again. I lost some momentum at the end of term, especially when I wasn’t feeling well, and was also very conscious that the good habits I created last year of regular home yoga and taking time for myself had fallen by the wayside. I had also discussed with Steve the fact that I didn’t think one training session with him per week was enough and wanted to add additional strength work to my week while I was off (with a view to hopefully managing two sessions a week once the school year begins). I wanted to create a holiday routine with training front and centre, balanced with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the time off. Here’s how the first week of that routine ended up:

Monday – PT session with Steve + Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – PT session with Steve
Thursday – 6 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

Although I’ve only included my yoga classes, it should be noted that I did yoga at home on all of the other days.

I was straight down to the studio first thing on the Monday morning ready and (mostly) willing to get started. As you may remember, prior to the holidays I really wanted to focus on my arms – I felt like I hadn’t maintained my strength and definition, so wanted to do some work to build upper body strength which, hopefully, will help my running too. Steve gave me circuits using the TRX and some weights, progressing the exercises and mixing things up regularly. By the end my poor wee arms were quite weary!

Fortunately I had a yoga session that evening and it was a relaxing one (I had been worried my arms might not work if I needed to use them much!) so this session was exactly what I needed to help me wind down and sleep well that night.

I began Tuesday with a 4 mile run. At this point I was still feeling my calves a bit weary and tight – the consequences of lots of long days on my feet at Disney and a cutback in my running miles over about a month. Nothing adverse going on and I knew it would resolve within a week or so. To help things on their way, I had a sports massage booked and I definitely felt an improvement after that. I also did a little unintentional cat yoga that day – I think they were still feeling a bit clingy after us being away for a couple of weeks!

Wednesday saw me back at the studio working through a similar circuit to Monday… and the start of Steve making “guest appearances” in my post-workout selfies again!

Thursday was probably my busiest day of the week. I began with a 6 mile run since my legs were feeling much better and I had much more energy since my sleep rhythms were back to normal. I then spent a bit of time out reading in the garden as it was a beautiful day. In fact, it was that one day of the year when the temperature (minus humidity) topped the temperature in Florida!

What a day to be in London!

Unfortunately, probably not the best day to bundle the kitties in their travel baskets to go to the vet for their annual boosters and health check! They were not best pleased and sang me a lovely song all the way there.

I then had Ashtanga yoga that evening – my first class in ages since I missed the one before I went on holiday and missed 3 while I was away/travelling home. Thanks to the beautiful weather it was an outdoor class which I love as it happens so rarely. There were loads of people in the park so it maybe wasn’t as peaceful as it could have been, but it was so nice to be out in the fresh air rather than the studio which would have been boiling! Prior to the holidays I was struggling with my headstand and in hindsight that was probably a combination of me not doing enough yoga/strength work combined with being completely exhausted. I was certainly feeling much better, but by this point it was a month since my last Ashtanga class so I asked my teacher to spot me for the headstand so I could begin to rebuild my confidence there, starting with doing the posture whilst supported. I suspect I have been overthinking it a bit but my aim is to be back to holding it, unsupported, for 5 breaths before the end of the year.

Back in the studio on Friday to continue with that upper body work. Nothing really interesting to say about this, it’s just going to be about consistency and varying the exercises to hit different muscle groups and build up strength and definition. I pretty much just turn up and Steve tells me what to do. In this one situation in life, I do as I’m told 😂

On Saturday it was time for the parkrun sandwich again. It was a humid day but I felt so much better than the week before and my time was about 30 seconds faster so I was pleased with that. Still nowhere near my best but that doesn’t matter right now, what matters is that I consistently make small improvements as that shows me my fitness and speed returning.

Post-parkrun I joined Steve to meet his brother and was re-introduced to the bacon croissant. I missed those!

And I rounded off the week with an 8 mile run on the Sunday. Despite being a longer run than the week before, I felt so much better. Clearly getting back into the right time zone and being consistent with some training was already paying off! I know I’m not where I was when I was at my peak, but already I’m feeling the strength and fitness returning so with a bit more of my holidays to go I’m sure I can continue to make improvements.

Much as I loved being away, it was good to get back into a consistent routine and my focus for the rest of the summer will really be on that consistency, building strength and working to get my runs a little faster and a bit longer. Let’s see how that goes…

What is your training focus right now?
Any races/events coming up?

Friday Finds – 9th August

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

It’s still pretty quiet in my news feeds right now, although I suspect some autumn (fall) marathon news is beginning to filter in, but in the meantime it’s going to be another mixture of stuff I’ve spotted recently and some bits and pieces I’ve had saved. Enjoy!

As I write this, the weather seems to be pretty broken. It’s been pouring all day so I got drenched out on some quick errands and there’s more to come, along with more thunderstorms, tomorrow. Yet only the other day I was out for another warm summer run and last month was running in the Florida heat. We runners are never happy – it’s either too hot or too cold – but what’s the ideal temperature for running? Here’s Canadian Running with an answer:

Since I have been needing the time to reset and recharge, I was interested by this Brad Stulberg piece for Outside about wellness. It sometimes feels like every other day we’re being given some new top tip or life hack to improve our wellbeing, but here Stulberg sets out the real basics of how to help ourselves to feel good. It makes sense to me. What are your thoughts?

The time off work has allowed me more time to work out as well as more time to scroll through social media and I have definitely noticed a lot of films of workouts in places like Instagram. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of a post-workout picture (if there’s not picture, did it even happen? 😂) but these are in my garden after a run or in the privacy of Steve’s studio. A busy gym is quite another matter and this article discusses some of the reasons for it happening as well as some of the reactions. Is this something you see much of? How do you feel about it?

Speaking of gyms, I came across this great clip from the upcoming film “Brittany Runs a Marathon” in which the main character finds out how much it costs to join a gym. Kind of reminds me a little of myself ha!

And finally, ever since deciding to grow my hair longer again, I’ve been pretty obsessed with finding the best way to style it for running/workouts (currently going through a braids phase) so I was amused to see Runner’s World publish this list of great running haircuts through the years. Before my hair was long enough to braid I was going for bunches, so I think Grete Waitz is my favourite (although I suspect my pigtails weren’t “slicing back and forth like metronomic windshield wipers” when I ran!) What’s your favourite?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Event Report – Beignet Dash @ Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

Not so much a race this one, but a really good fun event so I thought it worthy of a separate post to share the details (and photos).

I think it was towards the end of my visit to Florida last year that I first came across the golden nugget of information that several of the Disney resorts host regular fun runs as part of their recreation schedule – and you don’t actually have to be staying in a Disney resort to take part. They take place on different days so check the recreation schedules, and each one gives you a different souvenir such as pins, water bottles or, in the case of the one I picked, BEIGNETS! I was sold, Steve was easily persuaded and my sister agreed to build it into a day of resort activities we had planned (nothing to do with beignets, of course!).

The logistics were pretty simple. The run takes place at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter on a Sunday morning. They open up a check-in desk at 7:30am and the run is at 8am (I think the times vary a little for some of the other resort runs so do check in advance if you have your heart set on something). It costs $15 to take part and that can be paid on the morning in cash, but my sister called up in advance and paid over the phone so we were all set.

We arrived at the resort just after 7:30am (there is a security checkpoint on the way into all the resorts but if you have a dining or recreation reservation there’s no problem) and made our way around to the check-in desk to pick up our bibs and sign a waiver. The bibs are really just a place to write your name and have some emergency contact details, but more importantly they have a tear-off slip on the bottom that you use later on to claim your beignets.

We still had time so wandered off to find some toilets (top tip, the most likely location is any building close to the resort pool) and took a few pre-run photos. I had embraced the Disney by wearing my new Minnie Mouse running skirt with my stars & stripes crop top, but I noticed a real range of choices, with some people in regular running kit and others going for a more RunDisney costume approach. I loved that!

A little before 8am we were gathered together by a rep from the recreation team and given a little briefing. Fairly straightforward stuff about the basics of the route (they used the resort lifeguards as marshals to make sure everyone went the right way) and details of how to claim our beignets. We were then given advice on how to position ourselves at the start: runners to the front, walkers to the back and “I’m just here for the beignets” in the middle 😂

The route itself was about 2km following the running trail around the “Sassagoula River” so nothing too taxing. I wanted to test out running with my GoPro mounted on a short grip so I think I made it a bit harder for myself by eliminating the use of one arm haha! No matter since the run is not timed and there are no placings – everybody gets the same.

There was some support around the route, mainly guests who were up early or out to support family who were running. The lifeguards were also really good and shouted encouragement to everyone. The instructions were really clear so there was no chance of getting lost, even if you found yourself making your way around the course alone.

The finish was back where we started after completing our loop, by which time there were all sorts of things set up. I had a “medal” of a Mardi Gras mask attached to beads put around my neck (it had an event badge pinned to it too) and was handed a small bottle of water (they had been giving these out while we were waiting to start as well). There were also loads of photo props out so we made sure to get lots of photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we were happy we had taken all the photos we could around the event, we went to take a few pictures around the resort with our medals/bibs still on. I liked these fun statues which led towards the pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And made sure to clock the Sassagoula Floatworks where we would be headed later on to pick up our beignets.

Then it was back to the car to do what we could to freshen/tidy ourselves up before our breakfast reservation (you can read about that here).

And the beignets? Totally worth it. In fact, I would recommend the run for the beignets alone. Yes, I know I could buy some, but there was something very satisfying about “earning” them with that taxing run around the waterfront 😉. Did I mention the beignets are served WARM and with loads of powdered sugar? Amazing!

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience of a Disney resort run and hope to try a few more of them in future years. Mind you, if anyone suggests a return to the Beignet Dash, I’m definitely in!

Have you taken part in any of the Disney resort runs?
Would you run for beignets?

Week In Review – Summer Holidays Week 3

It’s another lengthy one with loads of photos! Please stay seated with your hands, arms, legs and feet inside at all times 😂

Thanks to our preference for heading off on holiday midweek (pro tip, flights tend to be cheaper that way), it feels like our 2 weeks away take up almost 3 weeks of our time. This was a week that started in Disney and ended back home, and it’s always a strange one as it feels like the trip has whizzed by, yet at the same time the first day or two feel like they were ages ago! Clearly I prioritised fun over fitness this time around, but did manage to fit a few bits and pieces in to keep me ticking over:

Monday – Disney day
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – 30 mins
Thursday – I basically had no idea what day it was!
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich + SUP yoga
Sunday – SUP yoga

The week kicked off with our third and final Disney park day of the trip and once more my sister was in charge of all arrangements (I quite like this. I wonder if I need some kind of PA to sort my life out all the time haha!). If you’ve read my previous posts from the trip then you’ll know our plans kept evolving in a bid to maximise our time and ensure we managed to do all the things we wanted to. We decided to begin this day at the Magic Kingdom since there was one ride we didn’t manage to do on our previous visit and we knew we would need to be there for rope drop and that brisk walk over there in oder to make it work.

On arrival, we spotted the Main Street vehicles just arriving at the entrance hub and took the chance to get a lift along Main Street to the castle, something I’ve never done before. I’m sure the other family in there with us loved me announcing, “I’m in a parade!” In a loud voice haha!

Ride done, the plan was to get the monorail over to Epcot when we were ready, however my sister had gone off to do some other bits and pieces leaving Steve and I unsupervised for a while and I needed to catch up with her to make use of her AP discount for a couple of purchases before we left, so Steve and I amused ourselves with a massive coffee and some photo ops until she could join us.

Taking my coffee, mouse ears and pout to the purple wall. I’m such an Instagram dream 😂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a quick character greeting once Linsey showed up.

After that, we parted ways for a bit with Steve and I jumping on the monorail to Epcot and Linsey finishing up what she wanted to do in MK with plans to meet us later. That’s right, we were off to a whole other park unsupervised. I’m more than capable of sorting out what to do and making plans, but I’d grown so used to Linsey doing it for us that it did feel strange! Luckily, she had organised a couple of Fastpasses for us so we were all set and filled in some time with a cheeky character meet and greet. I mean, I couldn’t put Steve in the “duck butts” and not take him to meet Donald 😂.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course a visit to see Elsa and Anna (apparently Steve didn’t know which was which until this moment. Oh the shame!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch was a noodle bowl and beer in the China pavilion of World Showcase then on our way to meet Linsey we nipped in to Club Cool for a drink and were devastated to find NO BEVERLY. If you know, you know!

Unfortunately, there was a storm that afternoon. Nothing particularly unusual and it shouldn’t have been too disruptive to our plans, however the lightning took out some power in Disney and several rides were off for a while. Despite that, we still managed to tick off all the important things we wanted to do, and passed the time during the storm having a snack break. Rose gold cupcake for me.

And a couple more character meets to finish off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t stay for once last showing of IllumiNations (it finishes at the end of September but I was told last year was my last time seeing it so I’m ok with this) as we were on the move again to head over to Hollywood Studios to catch the Star Wars fireworks, an evening show I hadn’t seen before. Prior to the fireworks there was a really cool projection show on the Chinese Theater at the end of the main entrance street, then a short wait before the fireworks. I have to say, I’m not much of a Star Wars fan (I know I’ve seen the originals and maybe one of the prequels, but not much more) but even I knew it was a stunning combination of projections, pyros, lasers and fireworks. It actually made me think I should watch the films!

Sadly after that we were saying goodbye to Disney World for this year, but thanks to the decision to pack more park days in, we made loads of amazing memories to keep us going for a while.

The Tuesday was designated for a bit of final shopping as my parents had appointments for haircuts and the place they go is close to the outlet mall on International Drive so Steve and I just take ourselves along there to wander around the shops and meet up with my parents later on. We were actually fairly quick in getting round all the places we needed to go and when I called my mum they had just found themselves a good table at the food court so we hot-footed it over there to join them and grabbed the standard “food court Asian food” for lunch.

When we arrived back home it was time to pack, which actually didn’t take too long, then we were off out again to treat my parents to a meal out by way of “rent” payment for our stay. Mum loves Red Lobster so we usually go there. I’m not a huge seafood fan, but there are plenty of things I like so it was a great meal, even if it does taste of going back home ☹️

Lobster bisque

Garden salad

I created my own combo – soy & ginger salmon and wood-fired tilapia served with rice.

I wanted one last run before leaving on the Wednesday and I find that getting up early for a run tends to mean I sleep a bit better on the flight in the evening, so we headed out early on a different route to my previous run. It was slightly longer, but good to get out.

Since our flight wasn’t until the evening, we didn’t need to leave until later in the afternoon so spent the morning soaking up the last of the sunshine before getting showered and changed ready to leave. We had managed to score decent seats for the flight and I was fairly comfortable. I watched Guardians of the Galaxy (because I hadn’t seen it before) then popped Frozen on but fell asleep pretty much as soon as Elsa had Let it Go. I probably had a solid 4 hours or so and didn’t feel too bad during the remainder of our journey home.

Of course when we arrived at Gatwick for our connection it was now Thursday, but I don’t think I ever really get to grips with what day it is when I’m travelling anyway. We had been slightly delayed leaving Orlando thanks to a storm so that cut the time we had to wait at Gatwick and by the time we had sat down for a reviving coffee, it was pretty much time to head to our gate.

Not too long after, all three of us (my sister was on the same flights back) made it safely back to Edinburgh and were reunited with our luggage (there had been some doubt about this thanks to a baggage issue at Gatwick and we had been told not to expect our bags at our final destination. Good management of expectations there, British Airways!).

Once home it was really just a case of unpacking, heading out for some essentials and grabbing some dinner before bed.

I slept pretty well and then was up sharp as I was excited about collecting the kitties from the cattery. I knew they would be perfectly fine as I have been using this cattery for years and totally trust the owner as she is fantastic, but since this was their first time in there it had played on my mind a little as I didn’t know how they would react. I needn’t have worried, Sooty was being her usual slightly aloof and independent self, while Smokey, my big softy of a mummy’s boy, was so pleased to see me that if he could have fitted in my pocket he would have happily climbed in there for the rest of the day! It was so good to have them home again. I missed their furry faces!

After taking Friday to chill out and start adjusting my body clock, Saturday was time to get back into a regular routine. First up, parkrun. I knew I wouldn’t run too well thanks to a general lack of running, the long haul travel, time difference and fact that I’m convinced I missed a meal somewhere, but it was still good to be back and see my parkrun pals again (I missed a parkrun before we left so it felt like ages since I’d been there). I did go for the parkrun sandwich, but my legs were pretty weary on the way home and I definitely felt like the plug had been pulled out, but knew this was down to travel and would pass in a day or two.

After parkrun, I headed down to the outdoor centre for a. SUP yoga session. The promise of getting out on the water had given me something to look forward to once home and I really enjoyed it. The water felt a little chilly, but thankfully I stayed on my board. Yes, we did go to the cafe after and I had my usual chicken mayo sandwich.

I did run on the Sunday morning, but kept it to 10k as my legs still hadn’t quite caught up with me and the last mile or two was a bit of a slog. But it was a nice morning and I knew getting back into my regular running routine would help me to reset my body clock.

As a bonus, I had another session of SUP yoga so took myself back down to the outdoor centre. It was another great session and the water actually felt a lot warmer than the day before. By the time we were finished I could definitely feel the hard work in my abs after a SUP double-header! I was also starving and since I didn’t want to have the same thing for lunch two days in a row, I opted for French toast with bacon and maple syrup. I can tell you right now that this won’t be the last time I order this – it was amazing!

And that was my week! It feels like I crammed so much in there that it’s hard to believe it was just 7 days. Roll on next summer and another trip to Florida…

Do you cope well with long haul travel?
What exciting things have you been up to this summer?

PS If you want to take advantage of my sister’ Disney expertise, she writes a blog here.

Week In Review – Summer Holidays Week 2

***Fair warning: this one is long and has LOTS of photos. I’d put the kettle on and make sure you have snacks!***

Week 2 of the holidays was a full week of Florida time and with me feeling much better, I managed to run a couple of times. I could maybe have done more, but getting up super early to run after a long day (and late night) at a theme park really isn’t all that appealing (and your legs don’t thank you for it, trust me) so my running volume was down, but I was happy to just go with it and know that I could get my mileage and fitness back up to scratch once I was back home. Here’s the rundown:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – Disney day
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 30 mins
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 2k

I confess I had considered a run on the Monday morning, but having arrived home fairly late after The World’s Longest Theme Park Day I knew that it probably wasn’t the best idea to get up early (you have to run early in the Florida summer to beat the heat) so opted for a chilled day reading and dozing by the pool. Just the thing to set me up for the following day when we were hitting the theme parks again. My folks were actually out for part of the day with my sister, so we just did our own thing and hung out. Perfect.

Our theme park plans were constantly evolving. As I mentioned in my previous post, I off-loaded all the thinking to my sister and she mentally recalculated things based on making sure we managed to do all the things we wanted to do. I was really keen to ride Flight of Passage again so we decided to start there at rope drop, do a couple of other quick things then spend the majority of the day over at the Magic Kingdom. After FoP we really only rode one other thing (Everest) and took a little time for some photo ops, but were in the Magic Kingdom around mid-morning.

Our visit to MK was really successful too and we knocked off everything we wanted to do bar one thing – I even embraced the instagram thing by posing, a little tongue-in-cheek, at the Purple Wall.

A highlight of the day was our dinner. My sister found a reservation for a character meal in the park so off we went to have dinner with Pooh, Piglet, TIgger and Eeyore at the Hundred Acre Wood. And thanks to the headwear I had bought Steve, colloquially known as “duck butts”, I now have approximately eleventy-million pictures of assorted characters pulling them off his head and messing around with them! Seriously, every single character we met involved them in the interaction!

And we met princesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another highlight was meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the end of our evening. Since Mickey and I share Big Birthday years (we both celebrated in 2018 and made kind of a big deal about keeping the celebrations going!) I was keen to visit the Big Cheeses in their celebration outfits (having allowed enough time for them to change out of the safari outfits they had on at AK that morning!). Of course the “duck butts” got lots of attention again and our character encounter quickly turned into one of the funniest moments of my life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two busy park days close together, Wednesday was another day reading on my sun lounger. My legs definitely knew they had been in use a lot and with the cutdown in running thanks to being unwell, resting was a much better idea than a run at this point. So a restful day and mum’s home cooking it was.

I did, however, finally get out for my first run of the trip on the Thursday morning – only a week late! I decided just to do 30 minutes on one of my fairly staple local routes. More than enough to get back into it a little after a break.

Once we were cleaned up and had breakfast, we jumped in the car with mum and dad to get a lift over to Disney to join my sister for the rest of the day. She likes to build a couple of nights at a Disney resort into her trip and invited Steve and I to join her for the afternoon/evening. To make things easier around security getting into resorts (they’re super tight on this, quite rightly) and to avoid lots of driving around for mum and dad, the easiest thing to do was to drive to the Animal Kingdom car park, where mum and dad put us on one of the free Disney buses to head over to meet Linsey at the Coronado Springs. Mum and dad then spent time in AK before heading over to the resort themselves for their dinner reservation then met us to head home again.

Linsey’s room was cool with a typical Disney touch visible right away:

And the pool, where we planned to hang out for the afternoon, was pretty amazing. We had a great view of the new Gran Destino Tower which only opened a couple of days earlier. There was a water slide (of course I had a go!) tucked behind a kind of Mayan temple with a waterfall running down it and a hot spa pool off to the side.

We did have a bit of a rain break back in the room, where we availed ourselves of the Keurig to make some coffee, then headed back to the pool again and grabbed a snack.

There were a few entertainments going on by the pool and my sister and I ended up going over to the arts & crafts activity where we made a pop socket for our phones. For a few dollars you got the socket and could choose 2 stickers to put on it. I was quite pleased with my efforts.

Once showered and changed we went to have a look around the resort, starting with toasting marshmallows over by the pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then popped into the Gran Destino Tower, which smelled unmistakably new, and took in the amazing views from the top floor.

Finally a visit to the quick service restaurant for some food before meeting mum and dad again.

Yes, I did order a kids meal.

All in all, a fun day in Disney without actually going to a park.

I got a little sleep on Friday morning, then we were off to do some shopping. We started at one of the outlet malls as there were a few specific shops I wanted to visit and had lunch at the food court. Steve’s a sucker for food court Asian food!

Then it was over to Disney Springs. I always love spending at least an afternoon here wondering around. I spotted this novelty cat bed, although I suspect my kitties prefer to sleep on MY bed so it would be purely decorative in our house!

I also visited The Dress Shop to check out all the beautiful dresses I can’t afford. This one was in the window. Isn’t is gorgeous!

Of course we made sure to take some refreshment breaks since it was hot. First up, an ice cream at Ghiradelli:

And later, a frozen margarita by the water. One of my favourites:

On the way back to the car we popped into the bakery to see the beautiful cakes. I wanted them all but they tend to be pricey.

And I was happy to see loads of Skyliners. I can’t wait to try these out once they open up.

After all that, it was time for a little rest and one of mum’s delicious dinners.

We were up sharp on Saturday to head over to Clermont for parkrun. No way was I missing it again! They were on their alternative course within the preserve (I ran on this course once last year) and although it was hard going thanks to my recent lack of running and lots of time on my feet, I actually went faster than last year to score a course PB.

Great sign!

A smaller parkrun means a much higher finish position!

Steve was busy chatting so it was “instagram Dad” to the rescue for this photo 😂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As ever, everyone was super friendly and we chatted to lots of lovely people, but by far the most memorable part of the morning was that I saw a CAT ON A LEAD during the course of my run. Sadly I don’t think the cat was actually taking part in parkrun, simply out for its morning constitutional, but it was still a cat. On a lead. On the parkrun course. I wish I could tell you that I had backup for this one, but it all happened so fast as I came around a corner so had no chance to get my phone out without causing a pile up. At first I naturally assumed it was a dog, but then realised that it was walking like a cat (yes, it is different) and then the wee floof turned to look at me and it was most definitely a cat. Unfortunately, neither Steve nor my dad can corroborate this as Steve never notices anything when he runs (I mean, he failed to notice the EIFFEL TOWER that he ran right by in the Paris marathon!) and my dad just figured it was a dog and didn’t really look. Useless! But it was a cat. I know it was a cat and I’m telling you it was a cat. Life. Made!

Once home it was time for a very important outing as Steve and I had yet to visit IHOP for pancakes. We had a coupon for a free stack, so Steve used that and ordered a couple of sides to go with it, while I opted for my favourite breakfast there, the Split Decision: sausage, bacon, eggs, french toast and a short stack of pancakes. Yum!

We then spent the rest of the day on our sun loungers until it was time for dinner. This time, with dessert!

If you go to Florida and don’t have key lime pie, did it even happen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday we went heavy on the Disney again, starting with a resort run. I had found out maybe last year that some of the resorts have regular short runs on selected mornings and the one that really caught my attention was the Beignet Dash over at Port Orleans French Quarter. I think ’ll write a separate post on this one, but the gist is you turn up/book ahead, pay $15 to run a couple of kilometres then get a voucher for 3 free beignets from the resort quick service location. I will definitely run for beignets!

We actually opted to wait until later in the day to claim our beignets as we had a breakfast reservation at the Polynesian resort. I had noticed my sister went there on her last visit and was keen to go. Why? Well it was a character breakfast at Ohana, and if you know your Disney then you’ll know that “Ohana” means “family”, therefore this had to be Stitch (and if you don’t know your Disney then sorry, we can’t be friends!). I do love Stitch. Unlike the previous character buffet where we took multiple trips to the self service buffet, at this one the buffet came to you. They started you off with the most delicious pineapple bread, then a fruit platter, then the cooked parts of the breakfast. All served with lots of “POG” juice (passionfruit, orange, guava) and any tea/coffee you wanted. And you could ask for more of anything that you wanted. We had a second platter of the cooked food and a few bonus waffles at the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rather than the standard Mickey waffles, here we got Stitch waffles (but there was a rogue Mickey in the second batch!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we had a great view while we ate. That’s the Grand Floridian in the distance.

While eating, we were visited by Lilo, Stitch and Mickey (sporting a fetching Hawaiian shirt).

On the way out we were able to meet Pluto with a nice lei around his neck.

I definitely recommend this breakfast the next time you’re in WDW.

From there Linsey, still in charge of all Disney-related thinking, had planned a resort day for us using mostly Disney transport. Using a combination of monorail, boats and buses we visited the Grand Floridian for some shopping, The Wilderness Lodge to do the Hidden Mickey treasure hunt (good fun if you’re looking for something to do outside the parks), the Fort Wilderness campground to see the horses at the Tri Circle D Ranch and returned to the Polynesian to visit Trader Sam’s. This is a little hole-in-the-wall bar, but with a twist. The best way to explain it is whatever drink you order, a different “thing” happens in the bar. Some of it causes the lighting to change, the decor to move/react in some way or the staff to shout different things or spray water around. It’s hilarious and well worth a visit if you get the chance. The detailing is amazing and there’s always something going on. Finally we headed back over to POFQ to pick up our beignets. The original plan had been to get them to go since mum was expecting us for dinner, but when we realised they were served warm we decided to have one before we left. And then, when we discovered how tasty they were, we “accidentally” had a second. Oops!

Grand Floridian

Wilderness Lodge

It amused me that the horses had the same type of name tag as the cast members!

Those beignets!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s ok, we still managed dinner and I had a bonus beignet left over for breakfast the next day.

So there you have it. A pretty busy week and a LOT of Disney time. I was definitely in my happy place during this week and the trip wasn’t over yet.

Where’s your happy place?
Ever seen a cat on a lead at parkrun?