365 Days Later…

Today is the 23rd of March. It has never before been a significant date for me, but on the 23rd of March 2020 the announcement was made that the UK would enter a period of lockdown to help slow the spread of Covid-19. That was when everything changed.

Under the rules of the time there were very limited reasons to leave our homes: essential shopping, medical care or exercise (once a day). At that time the schools had already closed so I knew I would be teaching remotely for the foreseeable future and as we headed into that period of working from home I knew that I would need to get out for some fresh air every day in order to stop the cabin fever setting in, making me feel sluggish and disrupting my sleep patterns. Even as I listened to the speeches from our political leaders outlining the measures being introduced, my plan was to continue to run on my usual days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) and to take a walk on the other days so that I would get outside. But as the country awoke in lockdown on the morning of Tuesday 24th March and I headed out for my run, I began to think differently.

I enjoyed that run. I had been feeling very anxious for a few weeks as I followed the news of how Covid was spreading, fearful of what that might mean. But with firm measures in place I felt much safer as there was a new clarity around what to do. Yes, there would be lots to learn when it came to how to continue teaching without the traditional face to face model; yes, going to get my weekly food shopping would cause some anxiety; yes, I would miss social interactions, but I vividly remember thinking that so long as I could run, I would feel ok. And as that particular run came to an end, I began to wonder what would happen if rather than walking, I ran again the next day, and the next, and the next…

What would happen if I tried a run streak?

What happened is I ran for 365 consecutive days and have no plans to stop. Today, as I mark one year of my #accidentalrunstreak I want to reflect on some of my main takeaways from the experience.

  1. Running every day actually IS for me
    I’ve always considered myself an injury-prone runner and the number of injuries/niggles I picked up through the first decade of my running are testament to that. For this reason, I’ve always shied away from run steaks. I thought running every day would be a one-way ticket to injury and when I observed others taking part in streaks such as Marcothon, RED January and other similar initiatives, I saw broken people dragging exhausted bodies through their daily runs and wishing for the month they committed to to be over. Why would I want to put myself through that? But as I began my streak I made the decision that I would stop if it became apparent that running every day was causing me issues or I felt an injury brewing. By listening to my body, building up gradually and backing off the distance/intensity when I needed to, I soon adapted and found that I was craving my daily run rather than resenting it ike those I had observed. Even today, one year on, that hasn’t changed.
  2. The human body is amazing
    Observing the adaptations in my body in the first weeks of the streak was fascinating. It took until about day 5 or 6 before I began to feel the effects of running every day, but actually that manifested as a tired heaviness in my legs rather than anything untoward. I kept the distance short and the pace slow for a few days to allow my body a chance to recover, and as I came out the other side of that initial weariness I felt stronger, better adapted to running every day. It was like my legs caught up to my brain in realising that this was what they were doing each morning and got on board with the plan. I had run several marathons before and my legs had carried me through weeks of focused training and increasingly lengthy runs, but this was something different to adapt to and I remember thinking how amazing it was that rather than continuing to feel weary, my legs found a new energy and settled into this new routine.
  3. If I want to do something badly enough I will find a way
    As my streak continued I began to make some decisions. I had set myself clear “streak rules” (minimum of 30 minutes – the length of time I need to get my points on my Vitality Fitness Rewards policy – or 5k per day) but built in an “exceptional circumstances” fallback position of just 1 mile to keep the streak alive. Out of 365 days, I only used this fallback twice, on two consecutive days when I travelled (unheard of these days!) to Disneyland Paris in August, that moment in time when the world was a little more open. Knowing that I had a super early start on the day I travelled, but unwilling to let my streak end over one tricky day, I ran laps around the block to complete one VERY early mile before heading off (the following day was also one mile as I was conscious of having had a long day on not much sleep, with another busy day ahead). Similarly, when we returned to school in August I didn’t want to end the streak, in fact I thought I would find it mentally helpful, so committed to getting up early, as I had been doing previously on my running days, to fit my run in before work. I still knew that I would stop if it was becoming untenable, but by this point I knew that I wasn’t going to make a decision to stop the streak, rather it would be stopped by outside forces such as illness, injury or a change in restrictions that would mean I was no longer able to get out to run. Stopping would have to be taken out of my hands – I even worked out what I would do if I was told I would have to self-isolate but was actually well (up and down the garden path!). In the same way that I wouldn’t want to skip a meal or skip sleep, I didn’t want to skip a run. That’s how much a part of my life it had become.
  4. I feel better for the whole day when I start with a run
    I think the main reason I have no desire to stop the streak is how it makes me feel. Before Covid there were two days in the week when I was getting up a bit earlier to run. This meant different alarm times for different days – running days, non-running days and weekends. Looking back, I don’t think that was really a good idea. Far better to have a regular alarm, at least on work days, and running before work every single day helped to even that out. Even when working from home, I was still tied to the bounds of the school day so my time felt very structured. The same is true when I am travelling to school for a more “normal” day, I just have to get up a little earlier than when I have worked from home. At the beginning of the school year in August there were actually two days when I was unable to run before work because of the weather – really stormy with significant flooding and on one of the days there was still thunder and lightning around so it would actually have been dangerous to run. On both occasions the forecast was much better later in the day so I delayed my run until after school and I really noticed the difference in how I felt all day. It was like I didn’t wake up properly: my mind was less alert, my body felt sluggish and I just had this sense of being “off” all day. Starting the day with a run wakes me up, gives me a chance to reflect on things I need to do and the endorphins to send me into the day feeling positive, with a bit of oomph to get things done. It may be a bit of a shock to the system to get up on a dark winter morning, but by the time I get back from my run I feel ready for anything!
  5. Pace really doesn’t matter
    It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and stats, to compare ourselves to past triumphs and feel down when a run feels hard even though we are actually moving more slowly. But when you get out there every day, you can’t expect to be running fast all the time. I learned quite quickly that my best runs come later in the week, especially on Saturday mornings, when my legs will have had more time to recover from a longer Sunday run and, certainly in the case of a Saturday, I’m better rested so there’s more of a spring in my step. I’ve learned to be more appreciative of the time out there in the fresh air and forget about pace. Ok. so I’m probably running a bit slower right now than I was this time last year, but I also have no specific event to target and I know that at any time I could tweak my training to include specific speed work and get a bit of pace back if I wanted to. I have to ask myself why I am running: is it to be faster, or is it because I actually just enjoy running? The past year has overwhelmingly been about the joy of the run, with little regard to pace.
  6. Even when you run every day you can still cycle your training
    Related to that is the idea of how I approach each run. A traditional running week would have a mixture of easy runs, hill runs, speed sessions and long runs. A training cycle, especially in preparation for a marathon, would go through a period of building mileage and intensity, followed by a period of cutting that back to allow for adaptation – this is where the body reaps the benefits of that hard training. But how do you do that when there are no days off? From the earliest days of the streak when I consciously kept the pace and intensity down while my body adapted to the demands of running every day, I realised that there would have to be some light and shade in my running. Heading out the door every morning to run the same route at the same pace might tick the box of running every day, but it’s not very exciting and offers no real scope to stretch distance or pace. My running would stagnate. Instead, I began to create a pattern in my week which developed into a rolling cycle of training. Monday remains a recovery run since I have my longest run on a Sunday. Tuesday-Friday are still at a fairly easy pace, but with the option of including some form drills, fartlek work or hill training on a Thursday to mix things up if I want to. Saturday is my faster run as I like to record a 5k (not)parkrun and then the cycle comes back around to my Sunday long run (anything from 8-14 miles, but mostly 10 miles – it’s a good distance). The work week actually looks like a bit of a “pyramid” in terms of distance, something like 3.5 miles – 4.5 miles – 5 miles – 4.5 miles – 4 miles. This lets me build a little distance up to the middle of the week then pull back ahead of the speed and longer distance of the weekend. Across a series of weeks I will build in the same way I would for marathon training: 3 weeks of gradually increasing long run distance followed by a cutback week where I drop mileage and keep the pace easy all week. I’m not a coach, nor am I qualified to tell you how to structure your training, but I AM qualified to know what works for me and after 365 days I think we can safely say that this does. Of course I can play around with things a bit, run a shorter distance if I’m feeling tired or otherwise not at my best or stretch things out if I’m feeling good and I don’t have to be anywhere any time soon, but having this pattern has really helped me as even though I might stick to similar routes, I’m not always doing the exact same thing.
  7. There are a surprising number of new routes and challenges to try
    I’ve never particularly minded covering the same route over and over again. There can be something quite comforting in knowing where you are, what the terrain/elevation ahead looks like and the precise distance to complete the route. But that’s not to say I don’t also enjoy finding new places to run. When we moved into our house 5 years ago one of the great joys at first was having a different starting point for my runs, so even familiar loops would feel a little different as they would start and end at a different point. These days I often stick to familiar routes; I like to have a distance in mind and know precisely where to head to cover it. Yet when you’re out there every day, sometimes it can be fun to have something different to do in order to mix things up. Whether that’s a new route (something I did at the weekend), running a familiar loop in reverse (that one can feel a bit odd) or a fun challenge, it’s surprising how many different ways you can find to add a little interest to a run. Over the past 365 days I have taken part in virtual events, themed my running tops, hit new mileage goals, played “postbox bingo”, spelled words using the first letter of street names, taken part in scavenger hunts, created homemade running events and am currently ticking off a daily bingo card. Wearing a particular colour of top or taking a photo of a random object may not show up in the stats, but these have been the things that have made my running fun, provided a focus when the world has felt like Groundhog Day and connected me to a community even though I’m running solo. They are the things that add depth and colour, create stories and form memories. I can recommend it!
  8. I can run in (nearly) every kind of weather
    When you run for a full year you will inevitably encounter all sorts of different weather – sometimes in the same day since this is Scotland! Having considered myself a runner for over a decade, encountering various weather conditions is nothing new, but in the past I might have shifted my running schedule around if the weather wasn’t looking too great. This past year I didn’t give myself the choice. Other than those stormy days in August where heading out would have been reckless, I have run in sunshine, rain, high winds, fog, snow, ice, very hot weather, freezing weather and many combinations of the above. As it turns out, the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” is true. And as a side note, if you plan to run every day it’s a good idea to have enough kit to see you through a week in a variety of weather conditions. It really takes the pressure off on laundry! Oh, and laying it out the night before really reduces the mental fatigue of figuring out your kit in the morning – I leave mine in the bathroom to make things even easier when I roll out of bed.
  9. I’m much happier in shorts!
    But with all those weather conditions, it turns out that my happy place is when I can run in shorts. I remember the days when I would spend chunks of the year in full length leggings or capris, afraid that I would be far too cold in shorts, but these days I much prefer my running shorts. People often think I’m mad and assume I must be freezing (I’m not), but my arms are far more likely to feel cold than my legs, so it’s not unusual to see me in shorts and a thermal top! So long as the temperature is above freezing, I’m probably out in my shorts. Thinking about it, I’m not sure why that’s become my preference. Maybe I feel more free. Maybe I can more easily fool myself that the weather is good. Maybe I’ve just become one of “those people” who switch to shorts at the earliest possible opportunity and refuse to go back – like switching the heating off and leaving it off until winter rolls around again. Whatever it might be, that month or two in winter when it gets far too cold for shorts is probably my least favourite of all since it takes so much kit to get me out the door – nothing beats shorts and a T-shirt for ease of planning!
  10. Sometimes the journey really is more important than the destination
    Perhaps most important of all is the fact that there doesn’t need to be a goal race or other arbitrary target for a run to be worthwhile. This wasn’t entirely new to me as I had already cut back on the amount of racing I did as just wasn’t feeling a need to be in a constant train-race-recover-repeat cycle. I was picking events based on what I felt they might add to my life, such as Run Disney events, or because they offered an interesting experience. Of course it has been a year now since racing was even a possibility and while I know I WILL go to in-person races again, that really isn’t what’s motivating me right now. As I hope I’ve made clear throughout this post, my motivation is coming from the fact that I enjoy pulling on my shorts, lacing up my shoes and getting out in the fresh air. The next time I choose to race it will be a fun bonus rather than the reason I run, and that’s an important distinction.

And there we have it. 365 days and 1938 miles later, I find myself feeling a range of emotions: proud of what I have achieved, shocked that my body has held up to running every day, disheartened that the world around me has not changed that much in all that time and excited to see how the streak continues to unfold.

Here’s to the next 365 days…!

My Year of Running 2020

For the past few years I’ve written this roundup post looking back over my running in that year (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). Even as I write this introduction I feel like this year’s post will be a little different (what isn’t in 2020, right?) but there has been a huge shift in my running this past year so I still wanted to create a post to reflect on that. Here we go…!

Best Race Experience
Well that’s an awkward one to start with! I had very few race plans as the year began (and those I did have were cancelled) so there are pretty slim pickings. Loads of events went virtual (and I took part in a few) but I think I’m going to choose an actual race experience – yes, those did happen in 2020, so long as you got in early! 1st January 2020 as part of our usual NYD adventure (three runs in one day), I ran in the Blairgowrie Ne’er Day Fun Run and put in one of my best performances in that event to date. It’s a very low key and simple event with no T-shirts or medals (the post-run soup and sweets are always very welcome though). It’s so strange to think now of all those people together in a hall before and after the event: no social distancing, New Year handshakes and lots of sweaty hugs. Unthinkable now! I’m sad that for the first time in its 30+ year history that this won’t happen in 2021, but fingers crossed it can return for 2022.

Best Run
By some miracle, I actually got to go on my planned long weekend trip to Disneyland Paris with my sister in August. Although I ran each morning, my favourite run was on the last day when I ran to the Disney gates and back on a warm and sunny morning. Hopefully this is something I’ll be able to repeat in the future as it was such fun to see familiar landmarks such as the Tower of Terror, Disney Hotels and Disney Village as part of my route.

Best New Running Gear
When you accidentally start a run streak, having plenty of running gear is a must. I’m certainly not short of kit, but a crucial cog in the wheel when you run every day is shoes. I always rotate my shoes and was in need of a couple of new pairs anyway, but I think my favourites from this year are these Adidas Solar Boosts with space-inspired soles. I wear them for my long runs and they feel great!

Best Running Advice You’ve Received This Year
Do you know, I can’t think of anything in particular, but when I first floated the idea of running every day as the UK lockdown began back in March, Steve told me to go for it. To be honest, whenever I come up with an idea for a challenge I would like to undertake, he supports me all the way and sometimes being told to go for it is just the advice you need.

Most Inspirational Runner
Ok, I know he’s my husband and I’m biased, but I’m going to pick Steve. As his 50th birthday approached at the end of this year, I made the (slightly mad) suggestion that he should mark the occasion by running 50 miles in one day. Not only did he do it, but he picked a day when the weather wasn’t all that great and STILL did it. I don’t think I’ll be replicating this feat when my big birthday rolls around, but it’s still an inspiring achievement.

Favourite Picture From A Run Or Race This Year
When the inaugural Disneyland Paris Princess Run Weekend was cancelled, the admins of a Facebook group I’m in created a fun at-home version. We created our own costumes, medals and photo ops and shared our pictures in the group. I had plenty of time for some arts and crafts in advance to prepare and had a great time on my run (for which I resurrected my Anna running costume from the 2019 Magic Run Weekend 10k). While it wasn’t quite the same as being at DLP, it certainly created a sense of community and fun to keep us all going and I love this picture I took of my “meet” with Mickey Mouse:

Race Experience You Would Repeat In A Heartbeat
Um, a little short on race experiences so I’ll choose a virtual one instead. Although completely unofficial, when my second planned Run Disney experience of the year (Magic Run Weekend in September) was cancelled, the same Facebook group that created an at-home version in May did the same thing again…but bigger! It was still a free event where we created out own costumes/race bibs/medals etc, but I went all in for this one by mirroring the 36km challenge: 5k on Friday evening, 10k on Saturday morning and a half marathon on Sunday morning. Based on the group themes I created all-new costumes for each and basically spent my weekend running around wearing crazy costumes (which nobody seemed to bat an eye at!). While I would MUCH prefer to be back running in DLP again soon, this was a great experience and I loved checking in with the group all weekend to see what others had come up with for their own Run Disney at home experience.

If You Could Sum Up Your Year In A Couple Of Words, What Would They Be?
Run Streak. If you had asked me this time last year, there is NO WAY I would have predicted this would happen. I never intended to start a run streak, it just sort of…happened. When we went into lockdown in March we were told one of the reasons we were allowed to leave our homes was for exercise each day. I knew that if I could get some fresh air then I would cope ok with being at home all the time and originally planned for this to be a walk on days which weren’t “running days” (I was running 4x per week at that point). The first official day of lockdown was a running day and when I got home, I floated the idea of seeing what would happen if I ran the next day, and the next, and the next… I genuinely thought it wouldn’t suit me, that I would struggle or get injured, but it was fascinating to observe how my body adapted to daily running and now I think I would feel strange it I DIDN’T head out each morning. Over 280 days later and I’m still enjoying my daily runs. It feels like part of me now.

How was your year of running in 2020? I’d love to hear all about it…

Homemade Run Disney – A (Virtual) Magic Moment

Oh 2020. Remember when I thought I was going to have Disney-filled year? Turns out that wasn’t to be, and although my miracle trip to Disneyland Paris in August was just the pixie dust I needed to assuage some of the sadness and frustration of this year, the opportunity to bring a little homemade Run Disney magic into one of my weekends was a welcome distraction. I summarised my virtual Magic Run Weekend experience in my last Week In Review post, but here are more of the details (and photos – lots and lots of photos!) for those craving a little more.

This was set up by a Facebook group I’m in – Run Disney Paris Fans – and was simply a free bit of fun to inspire those of us who love going to DLP for Run Weekend and were missing t this year. It was great to see how everyone got creative to put together their own events and photos.

The first thing I needed to do was decide on my running costumes. Had I actually been going to DLP I would have spent much more time over the details of this, but since this was just going to be me running around the streets of Perth, it wasn’t quite so important to have the details just so. Besides, there’s only so far I’m prepared to go in what I wear running around town by myself 🤣

Knowing the chosen themes made it a bit easier to decide and I settled on Marie (The Aristocats), Cinderella and Rémy (Ratatouille).

Then the next bit of prep was to make my race bibs and medals. We were able to download the designs from the Facebook group, then I set to work laminating the bibs and getting creative with cardboard, tinfoil and ribbon to make my medals. A little fiddly, but I actually found it quite good fun! If I had been taking part in one of the challenges (31k or 36k) in the live event I would have just had one bib for all of the races I was running, but I liked the idea of having all of them since this made it more unique, as well as connecting with my chosen costumes.

As the weekend rolled around, my aim was to recreate as closely as possible the way the event would unfold. That meant 5k on Friday evening, 10k on Saturday morning and a half marathon on Sunday morning. To keep me organised, ahead of each one I gathered together everything I needed for my costumes as well as some additional props for post-run photos of “character meets”. Yes, I was going for it 100%!

Beginning on Friday, my Marie costume was fairly simple: white tech top, white sparkle skirt (with shorts underneath), white compression socks, pink trainers and the Marie headband I bought at DLP.

 

I actually had great fun running my 5k and even though it was my second run of the day (I had run a super easy 5k in the morning before work) I felt good. Interestingly, nobody seemed to be paying me much attention as I ran around at 5pm on a Friday in my Marie costume (and no, I didn’t wear the ear headband to run) 😹.

After my run I added a couple of additional details to my costume: I put the ears on, tied a pink ribbon around my neck and donned my Marie face covering that I got on Shop Disney. Fully costumed up, it was time for my post-run photo shoot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, of course, no Run Disney event would be complete without some character meets. My observation from previous years is that there aren’t so many in the 5k. For my homemade event I was welcomed to the finish by the Beast, my princess Belle-themed (pre-Duffy) Disney bear and The Big Cheese himself – Mickey Mouse in his running kit.

For my final flourish, I chose one of my Disney T-shirts to act as a “finishers’ top”. Given my theming, my Disney cats one seemed the best choice.

It was such a fun way to start my weekend and definitely made me feel a bit less sad about not being on a flight to France.

For my 10k on Saturday I was going with Cinderella. This costume was probably the least precise to my perfectionist mind, so I think of it more as “Cinderella-inspired”: pale blue (ok, turquoise) tech top, pale blue tutu (with shorts underneath), white compression socks, black trainers and my silver tiara running hairband. It was a little chilly so I ended up adding white arm warmers before I headed out.

This time I did get a little attention as I was running, but it was a friend of mine (who also runs) in her car. I guess when she spotted someone running in a tutu on a Saturday morning she figured it could only be me 😂

Once again there was a little adjustment when I arrived home as I added a homemade black ribbon choker (I hadn’t fancied running with something tight around my neck) before taking my medal pictures.

Getting carried away with the shoe theming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time I included a “castle shot” as well:

Character-wise, this time I “met” Minnie Mouse (in her Belle-style gold ballgown) and Mickey, who had a different set of shorts and T-shirt on. Thank goodness, I wouldn’t want him to be whiffy!

And thanks to some Disney magic, Mickey was able to transform to a bigger size in order to give me a post-run hug haha!

This time my choice for the “finishers’ T-shirt” was my Princess Power one since it features Cinderella.

Not quite the Saturday morning I had originally planned, but good fun nonetheless.

The pièce de résistance was my Sunday morning half marathon. The event at DLP is always such a highlight with loads of characters and lots going on (you can read about my previous experiences here and here). I had known the overall theme for the weekend when I was in DLP so when I spotted a hat on sale that would make for an easy (but fun) costume idea, I bought it. For the rest of my Rémy costume I needed: grey tech top, grey capris, pink socks and I even set out a wooden spoon for my post-race photos! Again, it was a little chilly so I added some grey arm warmers at the last minute.

For this one, I had Steve help me out with a “start line” photo, with Mickey Mouse (in his finest Breton stripe) acting as race starter (although I didn’t actually wear my hat for the run itself).

With the hat safely back on my head at the end of my run it was time to take my final “Run Weekend” photos:

An attempt to recreate the post-race picture with all the medals attached to the castle railings. You get the idea!

There are always loads of characters around at the half marathon, so my event was no exception. I was pictured with Rémy (of course!), Duffy Bear in his French outfit and, for reasons best known to himself, Stitch (I mean he has nothing to do with the theming, but he’s a cheeky scamp who likes to invade photos 😂).

I was also pleased to see that Mickey had changed out of his French outfit and was back in his running kit (another set, he must have almost as much kit as me haha!) and we got a few pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And for my “finishers’ T-shirt”, I stuck to the fact that at DLP the half marathon swag is always Mickey/Minnie themed regardless of the race theme. The “Best Day Ever” T-shirt I got in August seemed perfect.

I was also keen to get a decent “castle shot” and came up with a way to manage just that. Almost believable!

All in all, I had great fun putting this together. No way as much fun as actually going to Disney for a running weekend, but a nice way to add a bit of magic to an otherwise mundane weekend and it gave me something a little different to focus on for a few days. I recommend it!

Fingers crossed that next time we get to run in Disney for real…! 🤞

The Year Of The Mouse!

In the Chinese calendar, 2020 is the Year of the Rat, but did you know that “the Chinese word shǔ​ (鼠) may refer to rat, mouse, or other muroid-type animals”? (Thanks Wikipedia!). And as any regular reader, or person who actually knows me in real life, is aware, I am a BIG fan of a certain famous (fa-mouse? 🙄) mouse. THE Mouse. The Big Cheese. A certain Mr M Mouse and the theme parks associated with his image. Every year I take at least one pilgrimage to the House of Mouse (more since I joined the fun at the Disneyland Paris Magic Run weekend – if you missed it you can read about my experiences here, here and here) and with the plans I have afoot this year, I will most definitely be thinking of 2020 as my Year of the Mouse!

“But what’s so different?” I hear you ask. Surely I mean I’ll be taking my usual trip to Florida in July and popping over to Paris in September for Magic Run Weekend again? Yes, quite right. But as an added bonus, this year I’ll be squeezing in some extra visits to my happy place.

Last year Run Disney France announced the inaugural Princess Run Weekend taking place in May 2020. With the early May bank holiday falling that weekend, the dates worked out perfectly for us to fly out during the day on the Friday (rather than arrive late at night after I finish work and we get on an evening flight), run on the Saturday and Sunday (more on that in a moment) then fly home that evening as we have previously done on the September run weekends. The only fly in the ointment was that with it being a holiday weekend across Europe, the price of a package (Disney hotel, park passes, race bibs) was going to be so much more than we have paid in the past for September weekends, so we took a risk and booked with one of the off-site partner hotels and booked our flights before they got prohibitively expensive. This meant we were waiting for the bib only sales to get our race places. An agonising wait as French systems tend to be a bit laid back about the specifics of when things might actually happen!

While we were waiting, the themes for the races were announced and if anything this added to my desire to be part of the event (although let’s face it, having got flights and accommodation I was going to DLP that weekend, I just hoped it would be for the runs!). On the Saturday there will be a 5k themed to Ariel from The Little Mermaid (you know, the one with my near-permanent ear worm song and general mermaid-y feeling) and on Sunday there will be an 8k themed to Belle from Beauty and the Beast (my absolute favourite and the princess I relate to the most!). Basically, they announced two themes absolutely made for me and the option to take on both as the Cinderella Challenge (because it’s the 70th anniversary of Cinderella) for a third medal. I already knew I would be disappointed not to get a place, and with the theming it became my mission to get that challenge bib!

Finally we got the word that the bibs would go on sale the first Monday in February. I would be at work but Steve and my sister were primed to get on the case – Steve had space in his diary and my sister booked the afternoon off work to make sure she was available as we had heard so many tales of website crashes and lots of stress with people trying to book bibs for the September races in the past. They were keeping in close contact with each other and updating me with how they were getting on as I sat anxiously at work, keeping my fingers firmly crossed. As it turned out, there had been some improvements to the booking system, and although there were one or two hitches along the way, it wasn’t too long before my sister sent me this:

Getting this actually made a big difference to me, coming so soon after the news of a school inspection. I realised last year that not only does Disney make me happy, but knowing that I have trips to a Disney park to look forward to does wonders for my mental health. You would think that the crowds etc might stress me out, but I noticed last summer that being in Disney World made all the stresses of the year and struggles with various illnesses learning up to that point just melt away. I felt refreshed and renewed, happier than I had been in months. Clearly Walt’s original vision was working for me!

And with that in mind, I knew that having the May weekend races to look forward to would really give me a much-needed mental distraction through what is by far the busiest and most stressful time in the school year. Since getting that confirmation of our places, I’ve had great fun turning my attention to what I plan to wear for those runs (I prefer not to reveal those until race day) and making some plans for our time in the theme parks.

But that’s not all. A few days later I discovered that my sister was planning a weekend at DLP in August, towards the end of my summer break. With flights coming in quite cheaply and the cost of a hotel room (off-site) much less when it’s shared, I decided to go with her for a long weekend in the parks. Ever since my first trip there for Magic Run Weekend in 2018 I’ve had it in mind to do something like that since realistically it’s not too far away and although I LOVE taking part in the races there, I thought it might be fun to have a couple of days of dedicated time in the parks without worrying about getting enough sleep before a run, being tired from having just done a run and just generally building all of our plans around the races. August will be that time.

I know not everyone will understand my desire to do this, but it feels like the right thing for me just now. I’ve not entered any other races, nor do I have plans to, so won’t have those entry fees or travel costs to consider. It’s also going to be much more cost effective for me to join my sister in buying an annual pass for DLP so my park entry will be much less overall and I’ll get some food and merch discounts with it too (because obviously I will want to buy All The Things!). I’m fortunate that I earn enough to have the odd weekend away, but it’s not something I often actually do. Yet with budget flights (booked early) and the option of non-Disney hotels shared between two/three of us, it becomes remarkably affordable. It’s something my sister often does as solo trips, and now I’m seeing the opportunity to join her if the timing is right (which saves her some money too as we’ll share the hotel cost). Frankly, I’m much happier spending my money on trips like this than on lots of nights out, meals out, UK mini-breaks, etc. Don’t get me wrong, those are all fun, but I know time in spent in Disney feels much healthier for me and the memories I create are far more vivid and long-lasting than some of these other ways I might spend my time/money. Given the choice between a night away and a fancy meal or a weekend at Disney, I know what my choice would be!

So to summarise that’s:

  • DLP in May for Princess Run Weekend
  • A couple of days at WDW in July as part of our trip to Florida
  • A long weekend at DLP in August with my sister
  • DLP in September for Magic Run Weekend (we booked our package for that one towards the end of last year so bibs etc are already taken care of).

As if that wasn’t enough, it looks like my sister is also heading to DLP in October when I have school holidays, and with no other plans for that time of year, chances are I’ll join her. It would only annoy me knowing I was sitting at home when she was away having some Disney fun!

And THAT is why 2020 will be my Year of the Mouse. The only question is, how many new pairs of Minnie Mouse ears can I add to my collection? 🤔

Clearly false! 😂

Anyone else planning some Disney fun this year?

2019 By The Numbers…

As a follow-up to my Year in Running post, and to celebrate my highest mileage year ever, I thought I would dig a bit deeper into my stats for 2019. Although I try not to be a slave to the numbers on my watch, I do always wear my Garmin when I run and the data it records goes to both Garmin Connect and Strava, which I have used to help me compile this post. Let’s take a look…

  • This year I have run a total of 1104 miles, which is the most I have ever done. My previous record was 838 in 2018, hence my goal of 800 miles for this year (to take into account the possibility of injury/illnes which would require some time out of running as I didn’t want my mileage goal to be a pressure). I was rather surprised to reach this goal with over a month of 2019 to go!
  • I have spent 171 hours of 2019 running, across 237 separate activities on 173 different days. That sounds like quite a lot of time!
  • In those hours I have climbed a total of 10,663 metres. That’s more than the height of Everest!
  • I have taken part in 5 races: The Stirling Marathon, Edinburgh Half Marathon, Chariots of Fire Beach Race, Disneyland Paris 10k and Disneyland Paris half marathon. My race calendar has been pretty empty and I’m happy with that.
  • I completed 44 parkruns (1 less than in 2018, but there were some unexpected gaps in my attendance).
  • I achieved Groundhog Day (the same finish time at the same parkrun location on two consecutive weeks) TWICE!
  • For 6 months of the year I recorded over 100 miles of running. Not bad given I lacked consistency in the first half of the year.
  • July was my lowest mileage month with 54 miles (I was ill then ran very little whilst on holiday).
  • April was my highest mileage month with 119 miles (thanks to a marathon and my longer training runs in preparation). Interestingly, December came second with 113 miles, yet I have nothing to train for right now!
  • My average pace was 9:27 per mile. Probably slightly skewed by the super-slow miles at Disneyland Paris, but still a decent long-run pace.

2019 overall was a funny year for me. It started badly with repeated bouts of a chesty cough, continued with an illness around Easter and a throat infection in the early summer. As a result, I just didn’t pay much attention to my stats other than a glance at my total mileage from time to time. With much better consistency in the second half of the year, I  can really see the numbers telling the story now. Let’s hope for a healthy and consistent year in 2020!

Anything of note in your running stats for the past year? 
How much attention do you pay to the running data you record?

My Year Of Running 2019

Over the past few years I’ve taken part in a blog link up to recap my year. This year I haven’t been able to find that link up anywhere, but since I wanted to look back over 2019, I decided to use my previous posts (2016, 2017, 2018) as a template and write my post anyway. So here we go with the 2019 edition…

Best race experience
These days I actually don’t race very often as I much prefer the process of getting out and running to the pressure of performing in a race situation. Yes I take my running seriously, but with this being a fairly tough year at work, I needed something that would bring plenty of fun to it – and for me there’s nothing more fun than running in Disney! I loved the whole Disneyland Paris race weekend so am going to be a wee bit liberal in my interpretation of “race experience” and pick the 31k Challenge, that way I can include BOTH the 10k and the half marathon. Sneaky!

Best run
Can I pick Disney again? This time at Walt Disney Word in Florida where I had my first experience of a WDW resort run. Along with Steve and my sister, I took part in the Beignet Dash over at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort. It was a mere 2km of running, but totally worth the early start to get a free order of WARM Mickey beignets. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best new piece of running gear
Once again, I continued to obsessively buy running leggings with crazy patterns on them, and once again that’s not going to be my choice – too obvious! Now that my hair has grown out again, I find a cap suits me much better than when I had a bob so was keen to get something “nice” for runs on wet days (rather than the perfectly functional, but essentially freebie, one I wore before which I call my “emergency running hat”!). So in what seems to be a developing theme for this post, it’s Disney once again as I’m choosing the Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend hat that I made a point of buying when I was there in September.

Best running advice you’ve received this year
Not exactly advice, but I realised this year that I really needed to do more strength work to help improve my running. Ever since the summer I’ve consistently managed two sessions a week down at Steve’s studio (three when it’s been school holidays and I have more time) to work with an assortment of kit such as the TRX, weights, bar bell, Bosu, gym ball and my own body weight with a variety of press ups in order to strengthen my arms and core. I feel so much better as a result and can definitely feel the difference – and I managed to answer one of these questions without mentioning Disney (until now haha!).

Most inspirational runner
I would usually try to choose a female inspiration here, but on this occasion I just HAVE to choose Eliud Kipchoge. His achievement in running the first ever sub-2 hour marathon, even if it isn’t an official record, was an incredible moment and I’m sure it will have unlocked many more breakthroughs to come in the world of running thanks to his insistence that “no human is limited”. I actually ran to parkrun whilst simultaneously live streaming the end of Kipchoge’s historic run on my phone and will happily admit to tearing up when he crossed the line in 1:59:40. An inspirational runner, true gentleman and downright nice guy. I can’t wait to see what he does next (probably not Disney, but you never know 😂)

Favourite picture from a run or race this year
This is such an easy question for me. Thanks to the magic of – you guessed it – Disney, this year I acquired this picture which is now my all-time favourite running picture of myself. I’m dressed as my favourite Disney princess (Belle, whilst still living her provincial life – there must be some much more…), running through Disneyland Paris and grinning from ear to ear. I was loving that race and for me, the joy of the experience seems to radiate from the picture. I love it!

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. But you knew that, didn’t you!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Disney Magic. It couldn’t really be anything else! I went to WDW, DLP (twice!) and somehow managed to pour a bit of Disney into every day. Now to see if I can make 2020 even bigger, even better and with even more pairs of Mouse ears…

I’d love to hear about some of your 2019 highlights. Share below, or even better write your own post and let me know so I can read it.

Race Report – Disneyland Paris 10k 2019

“One and done” just isn’t my style. I mean, I have previous for this one, such as entering a marathon just to have the experience once…and to date, I’ve run 12 marathons! So it really shouldn’t come as any surprise at all that when it came to my Run Disney experience, “one and done” just wasn’t going to happen.

Regular readers will remember that last year I celebrated a Big Birthday and made a bit of a Big Deal about it, keeping the celebrations going through most of the year, the highlight being my first ever Run Disney experience with the half marathon at Disneyland Paris as part of their Magic Run Weekend.

At the time I wasn’t sure how Steve would take to it and so made sure to savour every moment, not sure when I would have the opportunity to run in Disney again, but when I caught him eyeing up child-sized Mr Incredible costumes in the park shops and wondering if he could make it fit him, whilst simultaneously muttering about having to up his costume game, I realised that we were DEFINITELY going to be back!

This time round I kept things a little more low-key, but at the end of September we travelled back to Disneyland Paris for our second experience of Magic Run Weekend. Unlike in 2018 when we were “only” entered in the half marathon, this time we were able to sort out our logistics so that we could also take part in the 10k on Saturday morning to complete the 31k challenge (and receive an extra T-shirt and medal for doing so). It feels so long ago now, but in this post I’ll share some details (and many, many photos!) from my 10k experience.

First of all, the theme. For the 2019 Magic Run Weekend the overall theme was “Adventure”, but each race had its own individual theme and for the 10k it was “Princesses”. Oh yes, the theming for 2019 was far more “me” than in 2018! Steve, my sister and I decided to put together a group effort when it came to the costumes and I did actual crafts (all new to me!) to make something for Steve to wear:

Anna, Olaf and Elsa

And when it came to the route, I knew that it is changed slightly each year so had no expectations other than to hit both of the Disney parks and spend a little time running behind the scenes as well.

Steve and I had both been lucky enough to get in corral A so knew that we would get underway fairly quickly after the race started as there wouldn’t be too many waves ahead of us, so with this in mind we made sure to get into our corral in good time and enjoyed some of the pre-run entertainment. This year it was all on a big screen rather than a stage, and seemed to mainly feature the Genie from Aladdin.

And then, we were off! With very different plans in mind (Steve running it all as he would any regular race, me stopping for all the photo ops) we quickly separated and set off on our first adventure of the weekend.

As is the norm in France, the route was marked in kilometres and the markers were appropriate to the theme:

The route actually took us into the main Disneyland park fairly quickly and before I knew it I was running up Main Street towards the castle. This is always such an emotional moment for me, and since this was my first sight of the castle on this trip, by the time I reached the Photopass photographers I was fighting back the lump in my throat that was threatening to have me in tears (the fact that the ambient music was the big transformation moment from Beauty and the Beast – my favourite – where the Beast turns back into the Prince wasn’t helping much either!).

Official Photo

And from there I was on a Saturday morning theme park tour, punctuated by character meet and greets, starting just around the corner by the castle stage where Belle herself was waiting for me. Perfect!

(Official Photos)

Belle. Always my favourite.

Moana – the soundtrack to our SUP yoga sessions!

Ariel – I’ve been on such a Little Mermaid kick this year!

Merida. The proud Scots!

And Rapunzel was out on a bridge spanning the route, calling encouragement to the runners.

And as with last year, all the cast members out along the course were full of energy and support. It was such an amazing atmosphere.

As I was running I knew that my sister was in a corral further behind us and that she didn’t particularly intend to stop for many pictures in order to make sure she had plenty of time in the parks later on, but I was texting her with information about where the stops were, which characters were out and, if I had heard it, which character they would switch with in case it changed before she got there. That way she could prioritise any stops she made. Since I was stopping so much, I fully expected her to catch up with me and she finally did at the very last character stop (Merida) so in the end, I wasn’t too far ahead of her in finishing the run, which made it much easier to meet up again in the finish area.

I was having such an amazing time that it felt like the finish line by the Walt Disney Studios was on me before I knew it (even though I was a good hour slower than my 10k PB haha!) At the point when I finished, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck were on the stage greeting runners so I grabbed a picture.

Then went off to collect my all-important medal and assorted snacks.

 

 

We also grabbed a couple of post-race photos before heading back to the hotel to get changed and have (second) breakfast.

So all-in-all a fantastic start to our weekend of Disney running. I definitely recommend the 10k as an excellent event for those looking for a Run Disney experience but without the commitment of the half marathon distance, as well as for those who, like me, love the magic of Disney and never say no to a bit of a running challenge!

Stay tuned for a roundup of our half marathon experience…

Week In Review – New Term, New Attitude

After a fairly quiet week at home to finish my October break I was actually feeling ready for my return to work for the start of the new term. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s going to be a busy one, but I got a lot done when I was off so felt ready to tackle things head on. It was also important that I now sustain the training routine I have created, despite the fact that I have absolutely nothing to train for right now…and I am perfectly happy with that! I very much feel like I just want to run, be consistent and feel like I could happily jump in a half marathon at any point or begin to up my training for something bigger without having to start at the beginning. I’ve never been in this situation before and I kind of like it! It’s nice not having the pressure of an impending race, performance goals or expectations from others. Instead, I’m just enjoying running for what it’s all about – getting out in the fresh air and moving. I know this wouldn’t have worked for me in the past, but right now it’s ideal. So with that in mind, here’s what I got up to this past week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – accidental half marathon 😂

Most of that is very much as per the pattern I established last term, but what I really noticed was my performance at the weekend. More on that later.

We actually began the term with an inservice day. We don’t usually have one at this point, but there are a couple of additional ones this year and right after a holiday is a good place to have one. It gives you a day to get your head around what needs to be done and have plans in place for the weeks ahead. There was a bit less sitting in one place at this one, but still a bit less active than a teaching day so I was ready to stretch out on my yoga mat at the end of the day. This was the last session in the current block and we now have a two week break before the next block starts so I will have to make time for some home practice over the next two weeks. I left the class feeling really relaxed and ready for the teaching day to come.

That day started early as I was up for my morning run. Not going to lie, it’s quite a shock to have a 5am alarm call when you’ve just had a week off, and I really noticed how dark it had become in the short time since last term. Darkness for the entire run, with not even a glimmer of daylight as I finished, so I think I’m just going to have to accept that it’s going to be dark morning runs from here on in. I don’t mind, but it’s so nice in the summer months to be up and enjoying the early morning light when most other people are still in bed. Apart from that, it was just my usual Tuesday run – 4 miles at an easy pace as a recovery run from my longer one a couple of days before. It was a windy morning, but my legs and body felt good so I enjoyed the run.

That evening after work I headed down to the studio and this time Steve was ready with the resistance band, TRX and weights for my arm workout. I’m really starting to notice the change in the definition of my arms and feeling strong so focusing on this since we got back form our summer holiday has definitely been the right decision for me, even if the TRX parts are getting tougher!

I’m keeping Wednesday as my rest day, which meant I had time to go and get my nails done. My “French Trip manicure” was off and I wasn’t feeling totally put together without my nail polish, so having that done made me feel much better. Sometimes it’s the simple things. And yes, I am a total puzzle – I need to have my nails done but really push it on how long I can get away with not washing my hair!

Another early alarm call on Thursday to get out for a run. Despite not having anything specific to train for, I decided that I wanted to get back to some form drills again as Steve had noted at parkun last week that my form was good and I want to maintain that. I think running with good form is one reason I’ve felt much more robust over the past year or so and not really had much time out of running with any issues, so it’s obviously worth doing. It had been a few weeks though (I did some drills in my preparations for the Disneyland Paris runs) so I went back to the beginning with a mile warm up then 6x 500m drills with a minute recovery between each. I always start off thinking it’s going to be a bit of a chore but then quite enjoy the “work” intervals of the drills.

And then there was Ashtanga that evening. I’m now in the habit of keeping my yoga stuff in the car on a Thursday so that I’m less likely to miss the class if I get held up at work, but I still had time to nip home and change. It was a really good class as it was all the regulars and a couple of interesting things happened. First, I managed to take a bind in Marichyasana B, a posture we have begun working towards in recent months. It basically involves folding yourself up like a pretzel a bit like this:

At first I could barely bend the leg not in half lotus in much at all, but gradually got there and have been working towards taking the bind. I hadn’t really expected to get there just yet – even recently it hasn’t felt possible for me – but for some reason it just felt right to have a go and I managed it. I was so pleased with my progress!

We also tried a different back bend which I enjoyed as I like the challenge of new postures. And when we reached headstand I asked for support, but once I was in position my teacher was able to move away leaving me holding the headstand independently for a few breaths. I was pleased with this as it marked progress towards being able to do it completely independently again, but I’ll not rush and instead get used to being in the posture more often and hopefully get to a stage when I can move into it and find balance without support once again.

Friday was a pretty busy day at work as I had some things I needed to get done, but I was productive so didn’t have to stay too long after classes finished. That gave me plenty of time to get down to the studio – resistance band, dumbbells, press ups, weights and TRX this time. Phew!

After that first week of the new term I was ready for the weekend and kicked it off with the parkrun sandwich. I had actually managed to stick to my shorts for my midweek runs but Saturday morning was pretty chilly so I opted for my new leggings which had arrived on Friday. Any excuse!

Those leggings must have had super powers as I ran so well, finishing in under 24 minutes for the first time since March (and only the second time for the current parkrun year which began in late November!). In actual fact, it was only 6 seconds away from the time listed as my fastest for the parkrun year and since we’re still running on an alternative course which is a little longer than our regular course, I would argue that it might even represent a comparably faster time. After lots of setbacks with illness in the first half of the year, I’m so pleased to have clocked a 23:55 as we get to the tail end of the year.

Interestingly, although we still had a high number of runners, my finish position both overall and by gender are unusually high (2nd female – whaaaa?). I think a lot of the speedy people at the front end of the pack were away taking part in a cross country competition, leaving me the opportunity for a higher placing. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it – pretty sure that’s my highest gender placing ever at parkrun, and with the numbers we get these days it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything lower than about 70 for my position. Brilliant!

I think I was still buzzing on the way home as I found myself racing against Steve, who admittedly was taking it easy since his back was bothering him, and taking the chance to catch and pass him on the way up the road. Yes, I am competitive!

My Sunday plan was to run 12 miles. I did a few bits and pieces around the house (what a way to take advantage of the extra hour thanks to the clocks going back!) before heading out and decided I wanted to run basically the same route as my 10 miler last week, but add a lap of the North Inch park to bring it closer to 12. But the North Inch is only 1.5 miles so I needed to add a bit more. I ended up getting carried away and adding on too much, resulting in an accidental Sunday morning half marathon. Oops! #runnerproblems. In my defense, it was a lovely, bright autumnal morning, the shorts were back on and I was just enjoying the run. Once again my performance was better than my average time for the distance when I’ve actually been training for something, suggesting that I’m running better without that pressure. I’m all about the process rather than the end goal right now, so seeing that confirms that I’m doing the right things. I was pretty hungry for the rest of the day though and happily ate all the food!

So there you have it. Back to work, back to the routine, but a bigger focus on process and enjoyment than striving for a goal. I’m finding it rather refreshing.

Do you prefer having a goal to strive for or focusing on the process?
In what way have you surprised yourself with your performance in something lately?

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?

Race Report – Chariots Of Fire Beach Race 2019

Just a week after the Edinburgh half marathon, we were racing again but this time it was much more of a fun run experience.

This time last year we entered the Chariots of Fire 5k beach race for the first time, and although there was an issue with the turning point on the route so it was short, we still very much enjoyed the event and vowed to be back. Granted, we left it a little late to get our entries in this year, but we were both looking forward to it.

Pre-race information is really detailed and helpful, but we were happy we knew what we were doing, as it hadn’t really changed and we know the area fairly well. Sadly the weather wasn’t looking too promising again, but that wasn’t going to dampen our spirits.

We left at a much more reasonable time, despite having to drive for an hour and wanting to get there in good time to snag a decent parking spot. Thanks to the midday race start, this meant we were still able to be fairly leisurely.

Since participants are encouraged to wear white, I dug up the skirt (I suspect it’s actually a tennis skirt) I acquired for the race last year and paired it with my 2018 event T-shirt. Because of my later entry I wasn’t able to pre-order a 2019 one and I neglected to take cash with me to get one on the day. No big deal!

Once parked by the West Sands we collected our race numbers, nipped to the loo and returned to the car to get organised and relax for a bit. As race time drew nearer we headed down onto the beach. Steve wanted a warm up and right at that moment the rain began. Typical! Fortunately, it didn’t last too long and it actually became much brighter. What was the one thing I didn’t bring with me? That’s right, sunglasses. I honestly didn’t think I would need them so didn’t pick up a pair and here was me now squinting into the brightness. Luckily Steve had a pair in the car that he lent me, however they were pretty scratched so I think I got an interesting insight into what cataracts would be like while I was wearing them!

As we got ready to run, Steve bumped into someone he knew and I spotted some friends and headed over to speak to them. We then joined the crowds at the start line for the pre-race announcements. For some reason we couldn’t hear these too well but I knew the drill – run to the turn at the piper (no way was this going to be in the wrong place this time!) then run back, hand in my timing chip and collect my goodies. Simple!

The start is always marked by the strains of Vangelis and it must look (and sound) amazing to have all these white-clad runners dashing off across the sand. The majority of the course is on the wetter, packed sand so I had opted for my Inov-8 Mudclaws as I thought they would be best on this surface and I was really happy with my decision as they felt good underfoot.

There was some softer sand for a short stretch right before the turn, but it wasn’t too bad and before I knew it I was on my way back…into a headwind once again!

The headwind did slow me a little, but I kept a steady effort throughout and was happy with my run. I have to say, the return section was a little deceptive as I kept spotting, then losing sight of, the finish gantry so was just gauging the distance by my watch. Soon enough, I could hear Vangelis drifting towards me along the sand and did my best for a sprint finish. It later turned out that there was a photographer there, which clearly I didn’t spot. Ha!

Photo: Chris Wallard Photography

I returned my chip and collected my medal before locating Steve for a few beach photos. I also took some slow-motion video of me running by the water – it had to be done!

After catching up with a few people, it was time to collect the most important of the post-race goodies: a fudge doughnut and bottle of beer. The fudge doughnuts didn’t make it out of the car park, but we kept the beers (which this year had a race-branded label which was pretty cool) for later that evening. For those in more of a hurry, the medal was also a bottle opener!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beach race is such a different race experience for me and although running on the wet sand can be rather energy sapping, it’s a great thing to do. I think this one is going to become a staple in our annual race plans now and if you can get to St Andrews in early June I would definitely recommend signing up. You won’t regret it.