Race Report – The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon 2018

This is going to be a long one and full of photos, so put the kettle on, get comfy and prepare for a bit of pixie dust!
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Imagine having a wish: a wish you knew would fill you with magic and joy; a wish so strong you felt envy whenever someone else had that wish come true; a wish you wished for so hard, for years and years. Then one day, that wish was granted

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."It may sound like the plot of a Disney movie, yet it’s how I felt about taking part in a Run Disney event. For years I had yearned to create a costume, run through Disney parks and meet a host of characters. I coveted one of those HUUUUUGE Disney medals and was determined that one day I would achieve my dream. A couple of weeks ago “one day” became “today”.

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My awesome wrist wrap created by Nicky Lopez @ Run Bling

Our day began super early with a 4:30am alarm call so that we could have breakfast at our hotel at 5am (one of the benefits of staying in a Disney hotel was the early breakfast and late check out provided for runners). I would usually associate such an early start with a marathon and spend breakfast time forcing down food (and hoping not to see it come back up again!), but not this time. This time I was excited and, despite legs that had that telltale weariness of a day spent in a theme park (no regrets – it was an amazing day!) I was desperate to put on the rest of my costume and head over to the expo to wait until it was time to get into the start corral.

We actually got to the expo in great time, giving us time to take a few photos, chat to some other runners, admire the costumes and, crucially, join the massive queue for the toilets before we had to head around to our corral.

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As close as I could persuade Steve to a costume. It’s amazing what you can find online!

We were in corral C and we knew we were supposed to be in our corrals about 30 minutes before the estimated start time for our group (corral A began at 7am and we got in our corral just before that so we could experience the beginning of the race. It was about half an hour later before we were to get started, but the time seemed to pass really quickly. The weather was mild, even so early in the morning, with a little drizzle in the air so it was going to be a humid morning.

Since the event had a “villains” theme, the start of the event was handed over from the Disney hosts to Cruella de Vil and her henchmen. It was great watching things get started and moving closer and closer to the start gantry.

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g7EijkMFQk2MlLUJioRZTgAt long last, it was our turn. We were counted down (I started my watch a little before the start line as I wanted my hands free to shoot some film) and I ran across the start line grinning from ear to ear.

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The first part of the route took us under an archway announcing we were entering Disneyland then on into the Walt Disney Studios where we had spent the previous morning. We looped around different areas of the park, passing through “Studio One”, an enclosed area of shops and restaurants where all the cast members were out in force to cheer us on. It reminded me in many ways of the famed “disco tunnel” in the Paris marathon.QH9AnyyQRhWSqTzFLTUA5g

785007481Emerging from the studio, I glanced to my right and spotted the first of the character stops. I had actually wondered about skipping the first couple in order to get ahead for some later stops, but when I saw who it was I realised I was definitely going to stop here after all. I was dressed as Belle and the first character was…Gaston!

AZP7alUrQDSoEx9eIvW99wFrom here, the route took us towards the main Disneyland park, and I did skip a couple of character stops as the lines were really long and they weren’t ones I was massively bothered about. For me, it was all about running around the different “lands” of the park and through the castle.

As we hit Main Street I realised that this section was an out and back – first running away from the castle, looping around the town square then running the full length of the street towards Sleeping Beauty’s castle. This was my iconic moment and I made sure to film, take photos and stop for an official photo to mark the moment.

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780503394We actually ran around to one side of the castle, via Adventureland, and into Fantasyland (pausing only for a photo with Jafar).

788343590It was at this point that I found myself hit with a wave of emotion: I was actually running in Disney, I was running my dream race. The cast members were out in force and they were shouting “allez” in that rising way spectators do in the Paris marathon as well. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these things that made me feel so happy I could burst – I very nearly cried with happiness and this remains a really vivid memory of the race for me as I looped around and through the iconic castle with an accompaniment of Disney music.

Once through the castle, I really was in photo mode. It felt like I was stopping for photos, shuffling a few steps as I put my phone/Go Pro away then immediately stopping again for the next one. During this time I chatted with others and was struck by how well organised these photo stops were, especially for someone running solo (I had told Steve he could run on at his pace. I mean, I was running in Disney, what else did I need!). Our package included a Photopass for the race and our bibs had a barcode on them which was scanned by a cast member before the photographer took our photos. There was also always another cast member on hand who took photos using our own phones so we would have photos right away. I was actually sharing some of these while I was waiting to see various characters so some of my friends on social media could experience the event along with me. I was having such a lovely time that I clocked a 37 minute mile. Nope, not a typo, it really did take me 37 minutes to cover a mile. My goal marathon pace is usually around 9 minutes per mile and I can walk a mile in around 16 minutes, so clearly I wasn’t in much of a hurry at this point!

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788344247Eventually, I made my way out of the park and embarked on the next section of the route which took me out into the French countryside, through a small town and around a reservoir before heading back to Disneyland. I know some people find this part rather random, but I quite enjoyed it. It was good to get my legs moving at a regular pace for a while and have some more consistent running without having the constant stopping and starting (except for stopping briefly to take a photo of each kilometre marker) and the scenery was quite pleasant. The part I found random was the fact that so many runners were in some kind of costume which pretty much looked normal within the magical bounds of Disney, but once outside I couldn’t help thinking that this must look like the weirdest parade ever 😂

Even in this section outside of Disneyland there was some entertainment – bands, breakdancers, cheerleaders – and lots of spectators, so the time did pass quite quickly. Because there were a number of out and back sections it also gave me a great opportunity to look at some of the costumes other runners had put together. Some were really elaborate and I’m not sure I could have run in them without feeling irritated, whereas I had put together something comprised mainly of actual running kit, with a sparkly skirt on top (the sparkly skirt was crucial as I had wanted to wear one of those for ages!).

The last part of the route brought runners over a road bridge from which we could see the traffic entrance to Disneyland, before heading in by the Santa Fe hotel and through part of the Cheyenne hotel (where we were staying. Thankfully I didn’t have to run past my room!).

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GOPR0064From there, we followed the same path we had walked in by before the race that morning, around by the Sequoia Lodge and into the Disney Village which was packed with spectators, shoppers and those on their way to the parks for the day. It was so noisy with loads of shouts and cheers, yet at the same time a little bittersweet as I knew there was hardly any distance left to run. Yes, my legs were weary from being on my feet all weekend, but I didn’t want the experience to end so did my best to keep soaking up every moment.

Bur all too soon I could see the finish line ahead of me. We had retraced some of our steps from the early part of the race to finish behind the Hollywood Tower in the Walt Disney Studios park. I ran triumphantly over the line, collected my medal from a volunteer then walked over to the stage where Sorcerer Mickey was welcoming runners back. Sadly he was on a stage so there was no specific photo op, but I did get a cast member to take a photo and took a few seconds of video.

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IMG_0526There were several Photopass photographers stationed in front of some of the Marvel statues in this area so I got a photo then began to make my way towards the exit to meet Steve. Along the way I collected all my goodies – a bottle of water, an iced coffee drink (it was pretty good), a box of snacks, a banana and a space blanket. There was also some Powerade but I managed to miss that (gutted – blue Powerade is my favourite!).

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fullsizeoutput_27afOnce I met Steve, we had some more Photopass pictures taken outside the Studios before making our way back to the Expo to collect our bags (and take a few more photos because clearly we didn’t have enough already ha!).

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CjCn0Pv9QXyTbfhe%cxgkgI don’t think I ever stopped smiling throughout the race and had such an amazing experience. I had joked to Steve that I might take 3 hours and wasn’t too far off with 2:51:09. Near enough an hour slower than my half marathon PB! I did look at the results just out of interest, and my age category was won by none other than Paula Radcliffe, who is an ambassador for the event, but at 1:23:18 I suspect she didn’t stop for any photos haha!

I, however, stopped every kilometre as I wanted to make sure I had a picture of each marker. They were in keeping with the theme and were quite entertaining.

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UntitledFor me, this event was my fairytale, my chance to fulfil my wish of creating a costume, running through the parks and meeting a host of characters. Some wishes are for a once in a lifetime experience, but I have a funny feeling this won’t be the last time we take part in the Disneyland Paris Magic Run Weekend…
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Week In Review – The Magic Of Disney

What a week! I can’t believe my magical weekend finally came around and there will be a post on the Disney race itself to follow as soon as I have some time to sit down and think about it properly. In the meantime, here’s my regular week in review post with how I spent my week as a whole (fair warning: there are LOADS of photos here!).

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – run + sports massage
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – travel
Saturday – Disneyland!!!
Sunday – half marathon

My main priority throughout the week was to be as rested as possible as I knew the weekend would be tiring. This meant cutting back some of my workouts and making a point of maximising sleep by getting to bed at a reasonable time and cutting out anything unnecessary in the morning so I could sleep a little later. I also made sure to include some yoga each day to help me unwind, starting with my usual Hatha class on Monday night. As ever, the perfect end to my busy Monday.

I had already decided to move my midweek run to Tuesday so I could have Wednesday completely free to pack. As it turned out, this was most fortuitous as Storm Ali paid us a visit on Wednesday and running would have been pretty challenging. It was actually quite windy on Tuesday, but I was only looking to run at an easy pace and this was perfectly achievable. I followed this up with a sports massage to make sure my legs were in tip top shape for a weekend of theme parks and running.

gP8GtmpQRrOQVgblNat%9wAs well as a rest from any training, I also skipped my orchestra rehearsal on Wednesday so I had the night free to get myself packed and organised for the weekend. This made me feel much better as I knew I had little time the following evening and had to leave straight from work on Friday.

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My packing “helper”. Mum was on kitten care duties over the weekend so they were spoiled rotten!

It was then really important to me to get to my Ashtanga class on Thursday after missing it the previous week. I wanted the chance to calm my mind and stretch my body before the busy weekend. Unfortunately, due to some heavy traffic I was a few minutes late and this affected how I felt as I joined in with the class. Still, it was much better than not getting there at all and I did feel a lot more chilled by the time the class finished. I then went straight off to get my nails done to match my running costume.

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Can you guess…?

And then it was Friday. A colleague of mine very kindly offered to take the last few minutes of my class at the end of the day so I could get changed and get out of the car park ahead of all the school buses and parental pickups. This put us at the airport in good time for our flight and we got some food while we waited in the departure lounge.

EaU0qkeiR7qPQgjNOvQ61gThings began to unravel a bit when our flight was delayed (without much by way of explanation) for a little over an hour. By the time we moved an hour forward to Paris time, this meant it was getting quite late. We had always known we would be too late for any of the trains or coach transfers to Disney, so had booked a shared taxi but with the delays we ended up missing our slot and it took some time to get things reorganised – not helped by that laid back French attitude towards such things! By the time we got to our hotel it was 1am local time and had been a looooooooong day! We were booked into the Cheyenne which had a wild west/Toy Story theme and our room was ideal for our needs.

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+poMDiMqRc6QoaVNe3AvvwWe were up sharp on Saturday morning as we had loads we wanted/needed to do. But first, breakfast. The buffet in our hotel was pretty good with a selection of hot and cold items. But the best bit was while we were eating there was an announcement that Disneyland was open! I think I squealed!!!

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xsfqfrjNQo2TjNsbMxS6xwOur first port of call after breakfast was the expo to collect our race packets and the items I had preordered. This part of it was easy enough, leaving some time to explore the merchandise. I may have bought one or two all the things!

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%3Y%tQYkTqiJy4SX%t+UzwFinally, we went to check out the exhibitors but there were very few. I think perhaps I’ve been spoiled by bigger expos so found this a bit disappointing. I did enjoy finding my name on the wall of runners and taking some photos to mark the beginning of the weekend.

+iT8MkbcS3SD7eLI0rV7eA
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76vF2EVqRXqLKRMo61%+tAWe took our things back to the hotel then it was time to hit the parks!

kfyuY8hzSIWEr6PhsWAOZwFirst, we headed into the Studios as I wanted to devote much of the latter part of the day to the main park. In the Studios our priority was to get on the Ratatouille ride since this was new to us and is currently under construction at WDW in Florida. We got a Fastpass but had some time to wait so went shopping then got in the queue for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. It’s been a while since we’ve done that one since we haven’t been in the Studios in Florida for a while and it was brilliant!

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Hq9MdPDkRiOvd0Tdlh4KrARatatouille was amazing! It was a ride where you needed 3D glasses and were “shrunk” to the size of a rat. Doing something new was fantastic and it was a real highlight of our park day.

FZZpf3HJRRqbKPTbxC1uoQFrom there, we headed into the main Disneyland park. I found it quite confusing as it was similar to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, yet familiar things were in different places so it felt like being in a weird dream. Here, we wanted a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as I knew it was different to the Florida version. We headed straight there, admiring the seasonal decor on the way.

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fZfsNc8xTKelJTxOamaAPAIn Frontierland, where Big Thunder is located, it looked like being in the movie Coco as there was a Day of the Dead theme.

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7YTlCD78SwK2aJUmw9YuWAWe knew the parks would be busy and didn’t expect to get on loads of rides, hence our priorities (the others were Hyperspace Mountain, which was having a technical issue and Phantom Manor which was closed for refurbishment. Next time!). Given the long queues, we walked around soaking up the atmosphere and trying to get our bearings. We also needed some lunch so, on my sister’s recommendation, chose a place in Discoveryland (which I think of as Tomorrowland) that did burgers. I chose a chicken burger with fries and an ice cream for dessert.

6XAfgOrwQBmwCfiQ2GNi9wThroughout the remainder of our day we managed to get on Pirates of the Caribbean (again, different to the Florida version), used our Fastpass for Big Thunder (which was brilliant!), watched the afternoon parade (Disney parades are the best!), bought souvenirs, took a million photos and found some more food before getting ourselves ready for the fireworks.

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UvfmsSsHTWeqSwdO7R4gNQThere was some rain in the area so the actual fireworks were removed from the evening show, but the projections onto the castle (similar to what I saw in Florida last year) were so good that I barely even noticed. It was all set to Disney music, some in the original version and some in French. Pretty sure the words to Let it Go were a bit different in French…

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iKJ7PZ4FR2aABdIvSePLIw
KrcfqeOhREuFamriaLD2Pw
WWiUTEmTQNm9SagBcmOX6wWith that, our day came to a close and we headed back to the hotel to get our race things ready and try to get some sleep.

When our alarm went off it felt like the middle of the night…because it pretty much was! We got dressed and headed for breakfast which was laid on from 5am. We were actually given a wristband which meant we could go back for a second breakfast after the run, presumably because what we would eat before a run would be different to what we might prefer to have. We actually didn’t use this because of timings, but it was a great idea and we had been aware of loads of 10k runners coming in for breakfast while we ate the previous morning.

fullsizeoutput_27b1From there, it was final organisation in our room then over to the expo where the start corrals were and the bag drop. It also meant we could wait inside, where there were reasonable toilets, until we had to get into our corral.

I’ll write a more detailed race report to cover everything else, but the short version is I had THE BEST time! It was my slowest ever half marathon by far, but probably my favourite race experience EVER! I think it’s safe to say we’ll be doing this again in future. I’m already mulling over costume ideas…!

sqAvuFYPR6KyXHms0O3DNQPost-race we nipped back to our hotel for a quick freshen up and to drop some things off, then made a whistle-stop visit to the main Disneyland park so we could take some photos with our medals and buy a couple of last-minute souvenirs before leaving.

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52I6N3BlS8mR5tWnFwX+2gThe hotels gave runners a 1pm checkout so we had a quick shower, packed and were ready for the shuttle to the airport at 1:15. Perfect!

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A Beastly “stowaway” in my carry-on bag!

The journey home was much more straightforward and even with a stop for some food, we were home and organised in time to watch the finale of Bodyguard on tv. I even think these cheeky faces might have missed me!

p5WhqWM6T6KaOiIu0aigMwI really truly loved my weekend, I mean what’s not to like about a Run Disney event when you’re a runner who loves Disney? It was perfect! Look our for my race report (which will contain LOADS MORE photos!) to find out more about my experience.

b276uzRLS6q+9FFXqvgcaQWhat’s been your favourite race experience ever?
Have you/would you run a Disney race?

Week In Review – Fairy Tales and Furry Tails

Aloha! I am back home in sunny Scotland. Missing the Florida lifestyle but still plenty of training and life moments to fill you in on (get ready for lots of photos again!). Here’s how last week worked out training-wise:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – run
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – rest
Sunday – rest

Having aborted my run last Sunday, I decided a day off on Monday would be a good idea. Most of the day was spent reading in the sunshine, interrupted only by a light lunch of soup and sandwich thins.

bmsfEwKDTuu4DQi4Y5IQ4QThen it was time to get changed ready for an evening excursion to Disney’s Grand Floridian. Months ago dad booked a meal for us all at 1900 Park Fayre (a character dining location) within the hotel for us all to celebrate my Big Birthday, so for the second time on this trip, I was required to wear a badge and pretend it was my actual birthday 😂

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c15w3ZioRkiLjwQvqcZFgQIt was a fully buffet meal and throughout it we were visited by Prince Charming, Cinderella, the Ugly Sisters (Anastasia and Drizella) and their mother, Lady Tremaine. Great fun!

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I always knew that some day my prince would come! 😂

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2+Ofxb+FTe2Hqe1aVVSJrgI made a decent go of the buffet, taking several plates with small portions of various things I wanted to try. The desserts were AMAZING!

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8avHkL%CRYy+0JY0783ZBwWhen I returned from collecting my desserts I found that I had been brought a Mickey Mouse birthday cupcake, which I asked to have put in a box to take home as there was no way I was fitting it in after everything else!

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X4FPq1kPQzOewY8X+LlN7QAs we left the restaurant there was a photo op by the glass slipper, so we got a few pictures taken.

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IMG_0021And then we headed outside and walked along to the jetty as you can actually see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from there and the soundtrack is played on speakers at the jetty too. We may not have been able to see the projections onto the castle, but it was still a really nice end to the evening and a fantastic (early) birthday celebration.

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IMG_8127The next morning Steve and I got up for a rather sluggish run to try and burn off some of the buffet. It wasn’t our speediest effort, but it was good to move and being up early meant I had time to get my suitcase packed before breakfast, freeing up the rest of the day to soak up the last of the sunshine.

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kwTnSn03RGSOJiLGHa70agOf course, mum made a nice lunch. This time, sausages.

x0O0+%jOTeaf7sV7a2mlPAWe had another meal out that evening as Steve and I always take my parents out on the last night of our holiday. Mum likes The Red Lobster so we headed over there so she could have a plate of snow crab legs. I’m not a massive seafood fan so opted for a New York strip steak instead.

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FyFx2fXyROmWmY4Y0myoAwAnd when we got home, my dessert was the cupcake I had saved from the previous evening. If you ever get one of those Mickey celebration cupcakes, I can tell you they’re delicious!

We began Wednesday with another run as we knew we would be cooped up on planes for the rest of the day. Our route took in another Strava segment and despite feeling tired, I scored a PR on that segment and propelled myself to second on the women’s all-time list. Not a bad effort!

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C3aQ2OUfQNSZJz3lpzUUBwSteve and I both had a free stack of pancakes to claim at IHOP so we got showered and dressed then walked around there for breakfast. We both chose double blueberry pancakes and they were delicious (although Steve had to take one for the team and eat my last one – I’m such a failure!).

yGcumllHTYmorNO527I3aQThere was a bit of time to double check and finalise our packing, then dad drove us up to the airport for our flight to Newark Liberty. During the trip we had watched the short 4-episode season of Dancing with the Stars (like a little Strictly Come Dancing taster for me!) which dad had recorded earlier in the year. All the competitors were athletes, one being figure skater Tonya Harding, so I was keen to watch the movie I, Tonya on the flight. If you’ve not seen it, it’s really good.

g49lA7OnTJaRqWT2IGJZ7gOnce at Newark Liberty we had a little time to find our new departure gate and have a snack before boarding for the transatlantic flight. This is my least favourite part of the entire process as you don’t really get a good sleep on this overnight flight. I dozed a bit but mostly read my book and relaxed (as much as I could) ahead of landing in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

Since we arrived home first thing, we actually headed to bed to stretch out and sleep for a couple of hours before trying to spend the day as normally as possible. I was tired, but was doing ok so decided to go to my usual Ashtanga yoga class as the idea of stretching my body out after being folded up into an airline seat for hours just sounded so good – I even managed not to fall asleep in savasana! I enjoyed doing the Ashtanga sequence again as I although I did some yoga while I was away, it was always Hatha yoga using Yoga with Adriene videos.

I made it to about 9pm then went to bed and slept right through until the morning. Steve was at work on Friday morning so I got the house tidied up then got ready for the one thing that made returning from holiday worthwhile… KITTENS!

Yes, you read that right. Kittens!

You might remember me having to say goodbye to my beautiful (but elderly) cat at the beginning of the year. She was my best friend and had been with me through my entire adult life. For the past few months I’ve found it really strange not having a pet about the place (for a number of years I had two cats but the younger one went first). After the Stirling marathon, which gave me a bit of closure through my fundraising efforts, I began to feel ready for a new furry friend, but knew that I would have to wait until I got back from Florida. Still, I began a conversation with my local branch of Cats Protection and was told about a litter of kittens that would be ready to be re-homed at just the right time. We went to visit them in June and were greeted with this adorable sight – a pile of kittens!

aRrnZam3QSutneNkZuOqowWe chose two (yes, two!) who seemed to be good friends and played together a lot. We then visited them again the day I finished work for the summer so that we could see how they had grown as it seemed an awfully long wait until we got back. And finally, on Friday lunchtime, a lovely representative from CP brought them to us.

Allow me to introduce… Sooty (the wee girl on the left) and Smokey (her brother on the right). Two from a litter of four (the other two were re-homed together as well).

EZnNyD9uReyRGYVBOdH1BQBasically the rest of Friday was spent making sure the kittens were settled, playing with them and beginning to bond with them. So far Sooty has been very affectionate, with a VERY loud purr; Smokey is playing things cool but he enjoys attention and plays enthusiastically. I can’t wait to see how their little personalities develop, and just can’t get over how cute they are when they groom each other and sleep all curled up together ❤️. Apart from anything else, it’s just so good to have pets in the house again and having this time off work for the summer means I get to spend plenty of time with them before term begins.

s5g3m8%CRh2wdOC5fl+brQI should have been at parkrun on Saturday, but for the previous few days I had been aware of a niggling tightness on the outside of my left ankle so decided to skip parkrun so I could do a little work to help it to ease off rather than prolong it. And having the kittens to play with made skipping a week sooooo much easier to bear!

fullsizeoutput_2650For the same reason, I took Sunday off and stayed at home with the kittens while Steve went for his run. My ankle is already feeling much better so I should hopefully be able to try a run during the week ahead. And if I can’t? Well I have kittens so everything is ok!

fullsizeoutput_2658In many ways it’s been a funny week. It’s always strange to think that as the week began I was basically in Disney World then finished the week at home in Scotland. Stranger still (in a good way) to have new furry friends to think about, but it definitely took the edge off coming home from our holiday!

Any tricks for coping with long haul flights?
Are you a cat person or a dog person (or both, like me!)?

If you would like to help more cats like Sooty and Smokey to find a loving fur-ever home, my Just Giving page is still open here.

Week In Review – Florida Fun!

I’ve enjoyed a full week of Florida fun – sunshine, running and food…as well as a visit to the playground of a certain mouse! Here’s the lowdown:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 30 minute run
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – run
Friday – Epcot!
Saturday – parkrun
Sundayrun rest

Monday is usually a fairly easy day for me when it comes to my training, and after running both Saturday and Sunday, I decided a day off was needed. So while Steve went out for a morning run, I stayed in and did a little yoga before getting settled on my sun lounger for the day. For those keeping track of my holiday eating, lunch was pizza and dinner was my mum’s delicious curry.

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2C09650B-B798-4410-9EC4-70B0374A31EBOn Tuesday it was time to head out for a run again. We were leaving fairly sharp as mum and dad had appointments to get to, so Steve and I headed out just before sunrise when it was still really hazy looking.

36D95339-DAAC-4EE1-93C0-6A8A9C1CBD42And we saw the sun coming up at the end of the road.

A7D73561-41DF-4E65-8A51-FC23B297C35CMy legs were a little sluggish, but I felt much better afterwards and ready for the day.

050C3697-031C-46D6-97B8-267C717FC717While mum and dad were busy, Steve and I took the chance to do a little shopping at the outlet mall…once we’d had a frozen mocha from Panera Bread!

E5CFD420-2457-4881-9390-09BA0543E078Lunch this time was in the outlet mall food court and we opted for a combo – mine is orange chicken and chicken with broccoli. We followed that with an iced tea by the fountain before shopping some more.

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C933C9E0-3A08-4DCB-A8B6-06C54F9D8870After all that (and another frozen mocha later in the afternoon) we weren’t wanting a huge dinner and since my parents were out, we just had a simple dinner of soup whilst enjoying the sunset.

88BB4804-D7E2-48F5-82A9-32B230C0A609I opted for another rest day on Wednesday and spent the day reading in the sunshine – more or less my perfect day! Mum made her version of chicken à la king (chicken in white sauce) for lunch.

806BF393-0CD4-493A-A179-70240465C330In the evening I did a little more yoga and then it was time for more of mum’s yummy cooking. This time, pasta and meatballs followed by ice cream with a Cadbury Flake. Oh, and another amazing sunset. Perfect.

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A3D1FAC6-9EF7-4AD6-A205-3D9CEC15D2BFThursday began with another run, this time 4.5 miles. Thanks to an unusually dry week for Florida at this time of year, the humidity was much higher and we could feel it in the air even early on. It definitely makes for more challenging running conditions, but my hope is that when I get home running will feel much easier and my pace will have benefitted.

3554C524-7CBD-44D9-B1E8-F0C742B37C1BWe then had a chilled morning and light lunch of soup before getting ready and heading out for our favourite treat of the trip – afternoon tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort. Honestly, if you want one non-park tip for a Disney vacation then this is it. There are a variety of options (including one for children) to suit every budget and absolutely everything is delicious. Well worth it (but make sure you’re hungry when you get there!).

71068D11-856E-4751-A6E0-99EAD4F13C0C
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73A637E6-B0DB-45CB-B134-DBD1E7A6A3A2The Disney theme carried on into Friday as we enjoyed a theme park day. As usual, dad presented us with a Disney gift card by way of birthday present (basically he gives all of us our birthday present in July, even though both my sister and I have August birthdays and Steve’s isn’t until December!). We always use our cards to buy a one day Disney pass and this year we chose to have a day at Epcot.

9E95758D-B394-403C-B8E7-C529DDAD4CDC
748BB200-7E66-4E97-AADA-99C93D6B257CSince it was technically my birthday present, I wore one of those “I’m celebrating” badges (buttons) and pretty much treated the day as my birthday! We set off sharp with my sister so had breakfast when we arrived – coffee and the biggest doughnut I’ve ever seen!

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Yeah, I smudged it. I ALWAYS smudge it!

3EA1E20C-4354-4346-A6A2-F1799BCBC555We then enjoyed an awesome day of rides, character greetings, shopping and touring World Showcase.

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22ADA1F3-B813-4C29-993D-0DB5B785200EMid-afternoon we actually nipped out of the park to head over to the nearby Boardwalk as we had heard about these incredible cupcakes which had both a unicorn horn and Mickey ears that were being sold exclusively at the Boardwalk Bakery and we HAD to have one. I was still wearing my “I’m celebrating” badge and this led to me receiving a Magical Moment when the bakery staff gave me my cupcake for free as a birthday present. I love things like that in Disney and the cupcake itself was AMAZING!

DABDE175-2A7E-4288-B998-DC49D498E355Another highlight was the dinner reservation Steve made for the Akershus restaurant in the Norway pavilion. I had been here before for breakfast with my sister years before, but not for dinner and I was looking forward to it.

53FFEA47-DDA1-4E6C-BB5C-CAD356C5A838It’s a character dining experience with the Disney princesses. You’re greeted by Belle (my favourite) upon arrival then Aurora, Cinderella, Ariel and Snow White visit your table at some point during your meal.

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99EEDC4F-4F1D-49D2-A362-5A71567F00C9
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2AC337C0-7099-411E-9C53-8C6A482999F3The meal itself was fantastic and actually quite a healthy option for theme park food. You begin with the Taste of Norway buffet which has salad, cheeses, cured meats and fish to create your own plate.

66A2E1E6-85B7-4959-9297-CB58AC17137AYou then choose a main course. We couldn’t decide so opted for the Viking Mixed Grill which had tasting portions of 3 of the dishes. My favourite was the salmon and if we were to return to the Akershus I would definitely order the salmon for my main course. So good!

3E2FB641-6A71-4AB7-A159-62CC60FBB7ABDessert is a sharing platter brought by your server. We don’t normally “share” in this way, but we were pretty stuffed so relieved not to have a massive portion each (besides, our server had threatened to bring another if we actually finished it lol!). On the plate was rice cream (a little like rice pudding but a creamier consistency and actually pretty good. Apparently it’s traditionally made at Christmas from leftovers), apple cake with coconut cream and salted caramel sauce, and a chocolate mousse. They were all incredible but it was definitely an effort to finish it off and we left a little of the apple cake as a sacrifice to ensure we managed the chocolate mousse!

48E6E9E4-BDD1-4978-8BD9-BB92C565566FAfter dinner we met up with my parents who had a dinner reservation in the France pavilion and we watched the fireworks together before heading home.

As a result, we weren’t at our freshest on Saturday morning but we were still up and away to head over to Clermont for parkrun. Because of another event in the park, this time we were on their alternative course which is on the mostly shaded trail within the preserve rather than on the paved path along the waterfront. I was looking forward to a different run but knew I wouldn’t be terribly speedy – I was tired, it was VERY humid even early on and the course was harder thanks to the different terrain and having a few more twists and turns.

DECDD29B-BE06-47F9-8EC7-4C69DE7DC6FAI ran comfortably hard and finished in 26:42. Quite happy with that since I had no expectations at all for this one.

D710E30B-9830-4936-A567-5D4E93ACEA28When we were at Disney Springs last weekend I bought a pair of Goodr sunglasses as I had heard loads of good things about them from US-based runners and I tried them out at parkrun (our runs during the week had been early enough that sunglasses weren’t required). I have to say, I loved them! Really comfortable, even when wearing my Aftershokz earphones, and they didn’t bounce or move around. Add to that the cool colours, mirrored lenses and $25 price tag and I think I’m a convert. Perhaps another pair next year…

F43DD606-61DC-4AE2-8A6B-5277BF4BB6B1Once home and showered, we treated my parents to breakfast at Denny’s where I chose the French Toast Slam.

7A51418E-B916-4D13-B205-DC2F748F48F5The remainder of the day was pretty chilled after a busy couple of days. I finished my book and got another one underway, then in the evening there was a really amazing sunset with some stunning colours to watch while we ate our dinner (“Christmas” ham with wedges and veg) followed by key lime pie.

EA097BCE-4C5B-4A3B-80E0-75106613C1CA
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5395E1CB-7A5C-4A2A-B221-2D244EDEFB6BOn Sunday I was up and ready for a 10k run with Steve, but after about a mile I aborted the run and ran home. I was feeling pretty sluggish which I would normally push through, but I also started to feel a bit “off” with cramps so decided it just wasn’t worth the misery. Of course as soon as I stopped running I felt much better, but I’m glad I listened to my body as it was clearly telling me not to run this time (I was still gutted to miss the run though).

Fortunately, we did have plans to go to a different outlet mall so that took my mind off it. Despite battling some huge tour groups and having to stand in the most enormous queues to pay for anything, I did manage to find a few bargains so was happy with that. Lunch was a similar combo to on Tuesday but no photo this time as we were squeezed into a table and it was just too much effort. Sorry!

And the week was rounded off with the last home-cooked dinner of the trip – mum’s sweet chilli chicken with rice.

EE88B3DC-7F96-4E6B-A83B-49252D653926Sadly only a few days left of this trip now, but we’ve packed in all the things we wanted to do and have one or two things to look forward to once we’re home.

Are you still dealing with hot weather training where you are?
How would you like to celebrate your birthday?

Week In Review – Sunshine State Of Mind

As predicted, following the endless weeks of the end of term, the first week of the summer seemed to slip by rather quickly. At least it was good fun! Travelling means it’s not always easy to fit in training sessions, but I think I did ok with this one:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – morning run
Wednesday – travel
Thursday – run
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – run

I began the week with a range of errands to get ready for going away. Although I have a lot of clothes and things waiting for me in Florida, there are always a few last minute odds and ends than need to be sorted out (like making sure I exchange some money!) so took this as a rest day to get everything sorted and lay out the things I needed to pack.

Tuesday was also filled with errands such as having my hair and nails done, but I wanted to make sure I fitted a run in as well so headed out first thing for 10k. Even at 7:30am I could tell it was going to be a warm day so was glad I didn’t leave it until later on!

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Sunshine State of MindOn Wednesday the closest I came to a workout was hurrying through Newark airport to make my connection! It was a super long day with an obscenely early start to get to Edinburgh airport, followed by 2 flights: Edinburgh to Newark (where we cleared customs and immigration) then on to Orlando. Since it was the 4th of July Newark airport was really busy and this seemed to slow things down, then once on our flight we sat at the stand for an hour waiting for a group of connecting passengers who were delayed getting through the airport. Steve and I weren’t actually sitting together for this flight so I used the time to read my book (I had already watched the movies I wanted to see – The Greatest Showman and Coco – on the transatlantic flight!).

When we finally made it to Orlando my sister picked us up and mum had some food waiting for us. I was thrilled since the airline offerings had been pretty meh and the snacks I had packed just hadn’t been enough!

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of MindOf course thanks to the time difference we were up super early on Thursday even after our long day of travelling. One thing I’m always struck by when arriving in Florida at this time of year is how there are more hours of darkness compared to Scotland in summer, thanks to being so much further south. When Steve and I awoke it was still dark, yet at home the sun would have been up for an hour or so already! At sunrise we headed out the door for a 3.5 mile run which really helps to reset out body clocks and gives us a chance to move after being folded into airline seats for hours and hours.

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of MindPost-run we went for breakfast at IHOP with my parents. A little indulgent after a fairly short run, but we’re always so very hungry on the first morning until our bodies work out what time it is!

Sunshine State of MindAfter breakfast it was time for my favourite treat to begin the holiday – a spa pedicure. My poor wee running feet were definitely in need of some TLC and it was so nice to be pampered a bit while I enjoyed relaxing in a massage chair.

Sunshine State of MindThings were pretty restful for the remainder of the day, then some more of mum’s home cooking. Perfect!

Sunshine State of MindOn Friday we planned to have a pretty easy day just hanging out at home, however the morning began quite cloudy and I feared I wouldn’t get a chance to lie out on my sun lounger. I watched some Ted talks, caught up on some book group posts and took a lovely nap before lunch (yup, more of mum’s delicious food).

Sunshine State of MindBy this time the sun had finally made an appearance so the afternoon was spent on my sun lounger reading my book, and floating around in the pool with my pizza-shaped pool float.

Sunshine State of MindDinner was best described as “festive”:

Sunshine State of MindSaturday was another early start as dad was taking Steve and I over to Clermont so the three of us could take part in parkrun. We first tried this event last year and enjoyed it so decided not to sign up to any races this year and go to parkrun on both of our Saturdays instead. Everyone we spoke to when we arrived was really friendly and the weather felt just a little cooler than normal (although we knew it wouldnt feel that way once we were running!).

Sunshine State of MindAfter all the usual parkrun proceedings, we were off. Somehow I was fairly near the front and shot off, clocking the first mile at a ridiculously fast (for the conditions) 7:37. I knew I would likely pay for that later, but managed to run at a steady 7:58 for the second 2 miles, despite a rather brutal stretch in the last mile or so that’s in direct sunlight – the heat makes you feel so much more tired than you should be at that point in a 5k! I pushed on and tried to hold my pace as I had realised that I could get a 24:XX time for the first time EVER in Florida. I’ve wanted a sub-25 5k in Florida for years, but the July heat has always got the better of me, even when I’m in decent sub-24 form at home (the closest I’ve ever come is a rather irritating 25:02 back in 2016). Perhaps the recent spell of warm weather at home helped as I finished in 24:24, comfortably under the 25 minutes and a PB not just for my Clermont parkrun stats but my Florida running as a whole (dating back to 2010!).

Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of Mind
Sunshine State of MindBy way of part “payment” for hosting us for two weeks, we had offered to take mum and dad out for breakfast after parkrun and on this occasion another visit to IHOP was the easiest thing to fit in with their plans for the day, so we toasted 3x Clermont parkrun PBs with pancakes. As you do.

Sunshine State of Mind

My parents and my sister had plans for the rest of the day so Steve and I spent the afternoon enjoying the sun until the standard evening storm came in. We had originally thought we would go out for something to eat, but since it was raining really heavily and we would have been walking, we opted to stay in and eat some leftovers mum had in the fridge.

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Sunday began with another run. Steve and I headed out at sunrise once more with the intention of running for about half an hour. We took a different route from the one we ran on Thursday morning, one which includes a Strava segment so I couldn’t resist upping the pace a little on that stretch to see how I got on. Turns out it was my second fastest time on that segment, so I guess I’m going to need another go while we’re here…

F9B54F42-DA1E-4A0D-A6E2-35B85A840A92Then it was a quick dip in the pool to cool off before getting ready for our day.

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We headed over to Disney Springs around lunchtime for a bit of shopping (once we’d had some food, of course!). Steve and I decided to try Blaze pizzas and although I found the rather frantic nature of the place a bit chaotic, the pizza was pretty good.

21FEE4D7-93C2-4305-8850-6344E807898CAfter a bit of shopping it was time for dessert – and where else but Ghirardelli’s? I had a couple of scoops of cookie dough ice cream, but opted to have it in a cup since the pressure to eat a chocolate dipped cone/waffle bowl in this heat before it melts and causes a bit of a scene is too much for me!

772B4FB9-470D-4A0D-8C61-DBDA4173343CThe afternoon was rounded off with a delicious frozen lime margarita by the water. Just the thing on a warm afternoon!

4DBEDF5D-AFEA-4357-95EE-9EA2C93248D6Once home, I was actually pretty tired so found time for a power nap before dinner – tilapia with ratatouille and asparagus. Yummy!

0D6B2661-A482-4236-8053-C08405A03D90Week one of the summer holidays and the first few days in Florida done. I’m now looking forward to a full week of Florida fun ahead…

How are you spending your summer?
Are you managing to train in the heat?

When You Wish Upon A Star: A Magical Announcement…

Now that my spring goal race is in the past, my thoughts inevitably turn to what’s next. No longer do I race for the sake of it, preferring to make races work for me rather than shoehorn them into my schedule, but I do like to have both a spring and autumn goal to work towards. Spring is usually a marathon, but in the autumn anything goes – another marathon, a half marathon, going for speed over a shorter distance – the possibilities are endless.

But this autumn is going to be special. Those of you who know me in real life, or follow my Facebook page (and if you don’t, feel free to join the conversation) may already know why as I’m so excited about it…

This year, I celebrate a milestone birthday (I’ll keep which one to myself!) and that was one of the drivers behind my decision to make this The Year of Me!!! I wanted this year to be about the processes, not the outcomes; to add positive habits and value to my life; to have exciting experiences. And that’s exactly what this autumn will bring.

By some miracle Steve managed to pick up on my subtle hinting (i.e. tagging him incessantly in relevant posts and sending informative emails about what I would like to do to mark my special birthday 😂) and, due to some questions of logistics, he recently revealed to me what we will be doing…

I’M GOING TO DISNEYLAND PARIS TO RUN THE HALF MARATHON!!!

Yup, shouty capitals because I just excitedly shouted that at you. The number one item on my running bucket list has long been to take part in a Run DIsney event. My sister and both of my parents have taken part in events at WDW in Florida but I have never been able to as they all fall during term time, one of the drawbacks of being a teacher. So when I heard a couple of years ago that there was to be an event at Disneyland Paris I knew it would be my chance to fulfill that dream. For the last couple of years we were committed to the Loch Ness marathon on that same weekend, but this year it’s finally going to happen. (Did you really think I was going to go a whole year without running in/near Paris???).

Greetings from 2005!

Despite the fact that I have a Florida trip coming up in just a few weeks, I’m already thinking ahead to DLP. I have visited there once before but it was waaaaay back in 2005 in what I now refer to as “another life” and I know it has changed a great deal since then. We have a package which includes our race bibs, accommodation, park entry and race photos. It will be a whirlwind visit as we’ll be flying over on Friday evening and returning Sunday evening to fit in with work (a random Disney weekend in the middle of term!) but I know I can make the most of it and will be tapping my sister for tips on must-do attractions since she has visited more recently and, as a former WDW and DCL cast member, is bound to have some good advice! As for the race itself, Steve has grand plans to be competitive and is hoping for a good time. Me? I fully intend running a half marathon personal worst as I’ll be stopping for lots of photo ops, enjoying the scenery and soaking up the atmosphere. I’m fairly certain it’s the kind of thing that will make me want to cry tears of joy as I run along Main Street and round by the castle. It actually gives me goosebumps just thinking about it and there are sure to be A LOT of photos – I’m even thinking it’s time to purchase that Go Pro I’ve been wondering about…

I’ll be doing THIS!!!

The weekend will begin with a visit to the Run Disney Expo to collect our race packs and spend a fortune on stuff (oh the stuff I’m going to want – best start saving now!) but for the moment the most important consideration is to sort out my costume. Much like wearing ears in a Disney theme park is a rule, there’s absolutely no way on this Earth I’ll be taking part in a Run DIsney event without dressing as one of my favourite characters. I already have some ideas but will keep the details under wraps for now. Instead, I will leave you with a video which gives a taster of what’s in store for my greatest birthday gift EVER!! (Life goal = meeting a tracksuit-clad Mickey Mouse).

Have a magical rest of your day!

Have you (or would you like to) taken part in a Run Disney event?
Any Run Disney or DLP tips for me?

Go the Distance – my runDisney experiences

My sister has started a Disney blog and since it’s the WDW Marathon weekend (good luck to everyone taking part, especially those doing the Dopey!) I thought you might enjoy reading more about the runDisney experience. Introducing: Adventures by Linsey…

Adventures by Linsey

The Walt Disney World marathon takes place this weekend and runDisney has come a long way since it’s inception. Hell, when I began running their events it was known as the Disney Endurance Series.

My first Disney run was back in 2007 when I took part in the Race for the Taste 10k which coincided with the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival. The race sadly no longer exists as Disney replaced it with the Wine and Dine half marathon event, which was a much needed expansion on what they offered, so an understandable change to mix things up a little. What I enjoyed most about the race was how relaxed it was for those who are more ‘fun’ runners. We entered as a large group from the Rose and Crown – including those of us on the program, along with managers and chefs. We had a lot of fun, some struggling a little –…

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