July is far and away my favourite month of the year: summer break begins, a sunshine holiday beckons and it’s time for this Running Princess to kick back and have some fun.
Although the school term finished a little later this year, we still managed to kick off our month in style by creating our own event to make up for the fact that we were missing out on joining my parents for the annual Watermelon 5k in Winter Park, Florida. Had we been in Florida, we would have run 5k in face-melting heat, eaten some watermelon (best rehydration EVER!) then headed off for a cooked breakfast with my parents. Not ones to let a little Scottish July rain deter us, we recreated the experience by running a soggy parkrun, having some watermelon, then going out for breakfast (all whilst wearing assorted Watermelon 5k souvenir T-shirts!):
I actually ran a little further than parkrun that day as I had entered a virtual 4 mile event to mark the American 4th of July holiday and when I arrived in Florida a few days later, I was finally able to get hold of my race pack. It was pretty cool as it had a tank top, race number, magnet and (rather massive!) medal:
But it was the following day that we really started to feel in holiday mode as we were FINALLY able to make use of a present I bought Steve ages ago. Here are some clues:
Yup. We went on a balloon flight! Our flight had been cancelled so many times that it was somewhat of a surprise to actually be going up and I really couldn’t believe it was going to happen until we took off. I was a little nervous about it, but it turned out to be a fantastic experience and something I would highly recommend if you ever get the chance. It was an early start but the views were worth it – we could even see some of our favourite running routes, including the parkrun course, and it was a unique opportunity to see our city from the air. Here’s a taster:
The experience includes helping to set up the balloon then packing it away at the end – think of trying to squeeze your sleeping bag back into its storage bag, but on a grander scale! And then, a light refreshment to mark the occasion:
It was absolutely brilliant and a wonderful way to start our holiday, especially since just a few short days later we were on the plane to the sunshine state 🙂
This year, we wanted to use our trip to relax, read and, of course, run. And we certainly managed all three…
We also made use of the nearby playground to create our own workout. Obviously doing squats on the seesaw is TOTALLY playing by the playground rules and using the equipment properly!
Interestingly, since getting back a number of people have commented on us running and racing whilst away, with many saying, “not much of a holiday, though.” I find that a strange statement as running isn’t a chore for us, it’s part of our lifestyle and something we enjoy doing. To have the opportunity to run and race in a different part of the world is something we embrace – we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy it! Our holiday runs are short (the longest we did was 4.5 miles), early in the morning, and immediately followed by a dip in the pool to cool off ahead of a delicious breakfast featuring watermelon, then we install ourselves on sun loungers to relax and enjoy the weather. For us, that IS a holiday!
But the real highlight of the trip for me was not running related, it was heading down to Tampa to see Rascal Flatts (with support RaeLynn and Scotty McCreery) in concert. I’ve been trying to see Rascal Flatts for the best part of a decade but it’s just never quite worked out. Ironically last year they were playing in London while we were in Florida! I was convinced that the universe didn’t want to me to see them, but at long last I got my chance and had a great time singing along to some of my favourite country hits.
The only other reason for us to leave our sun loungers during that fortnight was for one of my other favourite pastimes: shopping (I predominantly bought new running kit – always a Running Princess!). We also had a great time larking about with some of the headgear at Downtown Disney:
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, however we did have a brilliant time and came home feeling refreshed and ready for new challenges. No sooner were we home than we were back toeing the line at parkrun, eager to see what our fitness was like after two weeks of running in the sort of heat that makes your face feel like this:
And as it happened, despite feeling a bit sluggish and jet lagged, I ran about 30 seconds faster than before we went away. I’m now looking forward to seeing if my times can continue to improve in the weeks ahead.
So thank you July for being a wonderful month once more. I had an absolute blast and enjoyed the much-needed chance to recharge my batteries. And I managed to add a bit more bling to my collection:
August will bring with it a return to work, but also a return to more focused training. Bring it on!
What was the highlight of your July?
Any exciting plans for the new month?