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?

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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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Week In Review – Vive La France!

Bonjour! I’m back home from France. It was a great trip, but definitely tiring!

As usual, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL, but since last week’s post didn’t cover the full week thanks to my travel commitments (and lack of wifi to update the weekend’s events) I thought I’d begin this week’s post by filling in the gaps. Unsurprisingly, I have plenty of photos to share – this might be one to enjoy over a cup of tea!

The trip began in Normandy then we headed to Paris. Once home, it was time to get back to my regular routine (whilst also making sure to rest from the demands of a full-on itinerary and 40 pupils to keep an eye on!). Here’s the itinerary:

Saturday – travel to France
Sunday – explore Normandy
Monday – explore Bayeux then travel to Paris
Tuesday – Paris
Wednesday – Paris
Thursday – travel home
Friday – rest(!)
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – easy run

Saturday was a travelling day. While France is not really that far away, we had an early start to ensure we were at the airport in plenty of time (45 people to get checked in and through security!), then once in France we had a coach journey north to Normandy. An early highlight for the pupils was the presence of the Scotland football team in the departure lounge (a few were able to get photos). For me, arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport felt really familiar – I’m losing count of how many times I’ve been there now! – and I was pleased to find we had a great coach driver who not only drove us north, but provided some commentary and information about various things we passed as we left Paris, including the Stade de France.

IMG_4015Once in Normandy we headed to our base for the first couple of nights which is a youth centre opposite the most beautiful church tower.

IMG_4024We were hustled right in to dinner as we were a little later arriving that usual. The teachers had a most welcome arrival drink awaiting them, but I found the food a little strange – edible, but an odd combination. Fortunately, the meal was rescued by dessert which was these delicious pastries:

IMG_4017Our knowledgeable coach driver, who had stayed for dinner, told us they are known as Paris-Brest. Shaped like a bicycle wheel, they were created to commemorate the cycle race of the same name which began in 1891. I can confirm that they are delicious!

By the time we’d finished eating and been shown to our rooms, there was really only time to unpack the things we would need then start getting ready for bed. Of course the pupils were excited, and many had slept on the coach so felt wide awake, but I know how busy and tiring the trip is so was keen to get everyone to bed at a reasonable time.

Sunday was all about Normandy. We began the day in the beautiful town of Caen exploring the Sunday market and the castle which was built for William the Conqueror. We had our packed lunch in the castle grounds then headed on to Arromanches, at the heart of the D-Day landing sites (Jour-J in French). We were there to visit the 360 cinema which has a powerful 20 minute film which gives a real flavour of events in June 1944. The cinema is above the town and from the elevated position we could see the remains of the Mulberry harbour which was created to bring cargo ashore during the D-Day landings. We then took the short walk down to the town and had a look around for a short time before heading on to our next port of call: the American cemetery at Colleville.

IMG_4036The cemetery sits above Omaha beach and was featured at the start of the movie Saving Private Ryan (two of the brothers whose story inspired the film are buried at this cemetery). We didn’t have much time there, but I found time to watch a short film in the museum which I had not previously seen, before having a look around the cemetery itself. It’s a very sombre place and the mood can be felt in the air. It always really brings home the scale of the sacrifice made by allied forces as over 10,000 crosses are in this location alone.

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IMG_4043We began Monday still in Normandy with a visit to Bayeux and the famous tapestry which depicts the events around the Norman conquest of England in 1066. It’s quite spectacular and intricate, 70 metres long and 50 cm high. I remember learning about the tapestry at primary school, and always remember the part where Harold is killed with an arrow through the eye. Ouch!

IMG_4065After the tapestry there was some time to explore Bayeux before our packed lunches. There’s a beautiful cathedral in Bayeux and overall it’s a very attractive town.

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IMG_4079After lunch we were back on the road and heading to Paris for the remainder of the trip. Again, staying in a youth centre but more modern than the one in Normandy. We arrived in time to have a little time to relax before dinner, then it was time to head out.

Our first evening was spent in the Notre Dame area. We allowed the pupils some time to explore in their groups, so I opted to pay a visit to the nearby bookshop Shakespeare & Co. It’s a famous independent bookshop, traditionally English-language. Its location is close to Kilometer Zéro, the point from which all French road distances are measured. The shop is part of the rich history of ex-pat literary Paris in the 1920s and was a meeting place for the likes of Joyce, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Eliot. Today it’s still full of nooks and crannies inviting visitors to get comfortable and read. There’s even a resident cat whose favourite sleeping place is well defined!

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IMG_4124I absolutely adore this place and could easily spend hours (days?) there, but contented myself with a couple of books. You can ask to have your purchases stamped with the store logo, which is a nice touch and something I recommend if you ever visit.

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fullsizeoutput_229cTuesday was probably the most tiring day as we had no coach so were both walking and using the metro. It was also a day when there were public sector strikes, which ended up affecting our itinerary.

The first visit on the agenda was the Musée d’Orsay, a one-time railway station now home to a number of exhibits including Impressionist art. In the past we have visited the Louvre, so this was new. Unfortunately, just as we got there the museum was in the process of closing as the strikes meant they did not have enough staff. We gave our pupils some time to themselves to look around, take photos, buy food, etc while we made alternative plans and I drew on what turned out to be far more impressive knowledge of Paris than I realised I had as I was able to look at my map and come up with a plan almost immediately. All those Paris marathons were good for something!

IMG_4172We needed to do something that would not incur a cost (including additional metro tickets) so I created a tour of the area we were in. From the Musée d’Orsay we walked along the Rive Gauche past the bouquinistes to the Pont des Arts. This is the pedestrian bridge which attracted controversy due to the number of “love locks” attached to it. The locks have now been removed due to safety concerns, but it’s still a great bridge to cross as it’s quite spacious and there’s no traffic so you can take some time for photos.

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IMG_4231The bridge leads into the Louvre courtyard so we spent some time there taking photos around the iconic pyramid (and I decided this would be the the ideal location for some yoga photos!). I had thought of maybe heading into the Tuileries gardens next, perhaps even along to the Place de la Concorde to see the obelisk, however we needed to start heading to our lunch at a quick service restaurant close to the Pompidou centre so we made our way along Rue de Rivoli to get there.

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IMG_4196The afternoon was devoted to some shopping so we walked the group along to the Forum des Halles, a huge underground shopping mall. There has been a lot of work going on remodelling the area and it was fascinating to see how much it has changed. I didn’t really do much shopping, but did enjoy the chance to slow down a bit and spend some time in a nearby café.

Unfortunately, our evening was also affected by the strikes. We had been due to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but it was also closed. We had a bit longer to think about alternative activities and I suggested going along anyway to see the monument from ground level and spend some time on the Champs Elysées before walking along to the Trocadéro to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up. This turned out to be an ideal solution – another score for all that time I’ve spent exploring Paris on foot!

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IMG_4219The pupils were pleased to see the coach again on Wednesday morning as they were so tired from the day before. Wednesday began with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. I ended up waiting at the bottom with a pupil who was unable to go up because of a fear of heights. I amused myself with a coffee and pain au chocolat for second breakfast!

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IMG_4241Once the group was back on the ground we walked across the road to the Port de la Bourdonnais where we had a one hour cruise on the Seine. I’ve done this a few times so didn’t bother listening to the commentary and instead just enjoyed the Parisian scenery and chance to relax for a while.

Back at the coach we had a quick packed lunch (it was a little chilly) before heading off again. We asked our coach driver to go around the Arc de Triomphe, which he did, then took a fairly scenic route to our next port of call all the while keeping up his very knowledgeable and interesting commentary.

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IMG_4255Soon, we passed the Moulin Rouge and got off the coach to make our way up the 270 (I think) steps to the Sacré Cœur. I had to go up them fairly briskly as some of the boys raced up and a member of staff needed to be up there to keep everyone together as they arrived. After a pause at the view point, we walked around to the Place du Tertre to enjoy the artists, cafés and souvenir shops. The staff sat at a café by our meeting point and I ordered a delicious bowl of soupe à l’oignon gratinée.

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IMG_4397Our evening activity was a visit to the Montparnasse tower and its panoramic observation deck. We made our way there on foot, and it was well worth it for the stunning views of Paris by night.

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IMG_4297Thursday was, sadly, the day we had to go home. I was up early to take one of our pupils to the airport as a family funeral required her to be on an earlier flight than ours. It was actually quite nice to have a couple of hours to myself and not constantly hear my “teacher name” followed by Are we…? Can we…? When are we…? Where is…? etc.

IMG_4307Back in Scotland our journey home took us over the new Queensferry Crossing (my first time) which was exciting, but by the time I finally got home I was exhausted so Steve treated me to a Chinese takeaway for dinner before I went to bed.

IMG_4320Unsurprisingly, Friday was a very quiet day. I slept a little later then usual, got unpacked and paid a visit to my parents before going out to eat with Steve. Even better, my favourite special was on so I had a lovely steak dinner 🙂

IMG_4335By Saturday I was ready for business as usual. What with my recovery weeks and the trip, I hadn’t trained since the Loch Ness marathon and was keen to get started again with a parkrun.

IMG_4336It was a lovely autumnal day, perfect for running. I had no expectations of time, but enjoyed moving my legs and pushing my body again. I ended up running really evenly and was quite surprised to finish in 24:41. Not too shabby after three weeks off!

IMG_4343The rest of the day was pretty relaxing as Steve was away, so I chilled out with the cat and caught up on some TV.

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IMG_4409Sunday was another return to the usual routine as I headed out for my second run of the weekend. Nowhere near as long as my marathon training runs, but a nice 5.5 mile loop at an easy pace to start reminding my body of how to run again. I felt sluggish at first, but by the end I could feel everything clicking into place.

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IMG_4408What a week! So strange to think that I started the week in France and ended it on my usual running route. Life is so funny sometimes! It was great to have some time in Paris, but now I’m ready to re-focus and get back to some regular training again.

Have you been on any trips recently?
How is your training going?

Week In Review – Bon Voyage!

All of a sudden it’s October and the end of term. I’m not entirely sure what happened to the last 8 weeks (although I suspect it was all just focused on reaching that start line at Loch Ness!). As you read this, I will be escorting 40 teenagers around Normandy and Paris, so look out for next week’s update with more details. For now, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share my roundup of the last week.

Since this was the second of my usual two post-marathon recovery weeks, and I was getting ready to head off on a trip, things remained pretty gentle this week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – travel to France
Sunday – explore Normandy

I felt much better on this Monday than I had the previous one, thanks to a restful weekend. Since I knew I would miss my Hatha yoga class on Saturday (and had paid for it as part of the block) I decided to go to the Monday evening class instead. It meant I didn’t have a huge amount of time to do anything else, but to be honest the time out to calm my mind and focus on me was just what I needed. Interestingly, I felt a little residual weariness in my legs when we held one of the postures for a long time, but I suppose that shouldn’t really be a surprise so soon after a marathon!

Tuesday was busy so “rest” may not be quite accurate. I had to dash out of school at the end of the day to make it back in time for my hair appointment. I usually get this done at the weekend, but thanks to a number of obstacles in recent weeks (including, but not limited to, my trip to Inverness) there had just not been a way to fit it in and I really needed a trim before going away. At least sitting in the chair chatting and reading my book was nice and relaxing.

Tuesday was also the day my rejection from the London marathon arrived. Luckily, I had a Plan B and got my entry in for the Stirling marathon as soon as I got home!

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Another rest day on Wednesday, but again not exactly resting on my laurels. This week I FINALLY made it back to orchestra (rehearsals began a few weeks ago) as I want to be part of the forthcoming concert. I was a little worried as I haven’t really played since the concert last November, but it was so nice to see my orchestra friends again, and I even made a decent job of sight-reading the symphony we were playing!

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Thursday was, of course, my Ashtanga yoga class. Definitely something I needed in the last week of term! There were only three of us this week, but I felt so much better in the postures than last week when my legs were still so weary – I even managed to work on Wheel a little more which is one of my goals.

By Friday I was probably running out of “oomph” but luckily it was the last day of term. It still ended up a rather busy day as I got everything sorted out for the two week break. Once home, I had scheduled a checkup at the vet for my cat (Steve’s in charge of making sure she has all her medicines while I’m away!), after which I had to get stuck into packing. I always feel like I take far too much on this trip, but the weather in France can be so changeable at this time of year, and with the regimented timetable of a school visit, going to buy new clothes (as I would if I was caught out on a holiday) just isn’t possible. Add to that all the additional bits and pieces I need with 40 teenagers in my charge and suddenly I need more than usual, but by some miracle I got it all done in time to head out to eat – starting with a celebratory end of term pint!

IMG_4011My other Friday news is that the medal for my Hogwarts Running Club virtual race arrived – year 4 of the Platform 9 3/4k. I’ve taken part in this every year and this year, the medal has a light so it looks like the front of the Hogwarts Express. Cool!

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Saturday was travelling day. We gathered in the school car park while it was still dark to head to the airport, and fly to Paris. From there, a coach transfer to our Normandy base for the first couple of days. However since all this took place AFTER I wrote and scheduled this post, I’ll need to fill you in on the details next week! For now, it’s au revoir from me…

How has your week been?
Are your training just now or enjoying some down time?

Tips For Travelling Abroad For A Race

Earlier this year I shared my tips for making your first race day experience go smoothly, however what about preparing for a race a little further away from home? One of the many wonderful things about running is that it’s something you can do wherever you are, and these days more and more runners are taking advantage of the opportunity to race abroad. Regular readers know that I’ve now run the Paris marathon 5 times (4 of those in consecutive years) and have become used to racing 5ks during my summer trip to Florida. Not only does racing abroad offer a fantastic way to see a new place, but it can also form the basis of a holiday or short break. Ideal!

But just as racing closer to home needs a bit of advance preparation, travelling abroad for a race brings with it a few additional steps to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Based on my own experiences, here are some tips to make sure you have an enjoyable time:

  1. Check if there are any additional requirements in order to race. In some countries, including France, runners must provide a medical certificate signed by their doctor before they are allowed to race. Perhaps you’re travelling even further afield and need to check visa or health requirements. Taking care of such things in good time means you can relax in the lead up to your trip.

 

  1. Confirm all bookings such as flights and hotels. Print out anything you need such as booking references, boarding passes and race entries and pack them in your carry-on along with other essentials like your passport (and while you’re at it, check your passport is still valid – you don’t want an emergency trip to the passport office when you should be on your flight!)

 

  1. Remember travel insurance and any health requirements such as an EHIC card.

 

  1. Make sure you have all the usual travel essentials – guide book, travel adaptor, phone charger, currency – as well as race-specific ones like your race pack or any other details you’ve been sent. If you have to visit an expo to collect your race pack, make sure you know how to get there and what you will need in order to collect your pack – some races require a confirmation document and/or photo ID.

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  1. Check the weather forecast and plan the kit you are going to need. Make sure you have a couple of options in case that forecast changes. Remember not to wear anything new, and make sure you have something to keep you warm/dry before the race as well as something to put on afterwards if you have a bit of a journey back to your hotel. If you’re going somewhere warm, make sure you pack your sunscreen otherwise you’ll have “interesting” tan lines to show off! I ALWAYS pack my race day kit in my carry-on so I know I have all my essentials safely by my side. If you’re travelling for a marathon, I recommend compression socks or leggings for the day after, especially if you’ll be flying, as they always help my legs to recover.

  1. Think about food. Ok, I know as runners we’re always thinking about food, but what I mean is to think about what you’re going to eat before the race. If you have a meal you always like to have e.g. porridge, it may be best to bring your own in case your hotel doesn’t have what you need. Likewise, you may not be able to buy your preferred race fuel (gels, drinks, etc) at your destination, so pack whatever you need. I usually carry a few snacks for the flight as well, since you never know what food options there will be on a travelling day.

 

  1. If you’re taking any tech like a running watch or smartphone, make sure you have any chargers you might need (and the appropriate adaptor to plug them in!)

 

  1. Pack a few first aid essentials like blister plasters and painkillers in case you need them after the race. It’s not a bad idea to have some safety pins for your race number either, just in case!

 

  1. Be sensible ahead of race day. It’s easy to notch up 10+ miles simply walking around a big city and ideally you want to turn up at the start line with reasonably fresh legs. That said, if you have the chance then it’s worth checking out the start and finish areas to make sure you know your travel arrangements for race day.

  1. The night before your race, do exactly as you would at home – read over your race pack, lay out everything you need and try to get a good night’s sleep. And make sure you eat well – I wouldn’t be trying any unusual or spicy foods the day before. Stick to something familiar and save the local delicacy for your post-race celebration!

A little planning will help remove some of the stress that can come with travelling and you will be able to relax, get the most out of your trip and, crucially, enjoy your race.

Have a great racecation!

Week In Review – Squeezing Out Every Last Drop!

What a strange week! I’ve gone from living it up in Florida to a wee Scottish drowned rat in the blink of an eye! I still have plenty of photos to share from the last days of our trip as I link up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL as usual.

Since much of the week was still either part of our holiday or dominated by the demands of travelling home, my schedule was a little different again. I don’t generally plan so much when we’re away, but there’s always room for a morning workout somewhere along the line!

Monday – Magic Kingdom
Tuesday – 5k
Wednesday – workout @ park then flight home
Thursday – walk
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 10k

We definitely got the week off to a great start with a visit to the Magic Kingdom. My dad has decided that everyone’s birthday now takes place in July (the only one of us actually born in July is my mum!) and we are all now being presented with a Disney gift card when we’re in Florida. It’s totally up to us how we use the card but Steve and I like to have an experience rather than buy something, so we decided to have a day at MK since it’s been a couple of years since we visited there. My sister came too and decided we should be there for rope drop so we could get on plenty of rides before it got too busy. I’d actually never been in as early as that before but it worked out well as Steve and I scored a ride on the first Seven Dwarves Mine Train of the day (there were no Fastpasses left by the time we had our tickets to plan the day and the line for this one is always ENORMOUS!!).

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IMG_2973Much like our day at Epcot last week, we had a great time revisiting old favourites like Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion whilst keeping the Photopass photographers occupied (my sister has an annual pass so gets the photos included). And yes, I did do some novelty shots of my own by the castle!

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IMG_3019There was some pretty heavy rain later in the day but it cleared up in time for the fireworks. I’m so glad we stayed because the new show is incredible – a combination of fireworks and projections onto the castle itself. Awesome!

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IMG_3099In the end we were in the park for the FULL DAY. Yup, all the way from “all are welcome in this magical place” to “we thank you for joining us today“! Needless to say, we were pretty tired so Tuesday was a bit more relaxing. We still got up and joined dad for our last “running club” 5k of the trip, safe in the knowledge that we could snooze in the sun later on, and this time he chose a different route a bit more like the one Steve and I had done ourselves the previous week. Knowing there was a Strava segment I wanted to improve on, I set off at a pretty steady pace then ramped it up for the section where I hit the segment. Once I knew I had completed it I actually stopped for a moment to catch my breath and get a decent drink before carrying on. It was worth it though as I ran the segment 30 seconds faster than the last time and set a new PR there. Also notable from this run, the 4 cranes which flew in formation across the road in front of me (Steve was quite far ahead by this point and dad didn’t see me pointing at them so you’ll just have to take my word for it!).

IMG_3102After enjoying the last of the sunshine we got showered and changed to take mum and dad out for dinner. We always do this on our last night as a thank you for looking after putting up with us for two weeks. Mum loves snow crab legs so we went to Red Lobster. We all had lobster bisque to start then I opted for a New York strip steak (a cut we don’t tend to see in the UK) which was delicious.

IMG_3133Steve and I decided to get up on Wednesday for one last workout in the morning sun. We were conscious that we would be travelling for quite a long time and cramped up in a plane so wanted a bit of movement before that happened. We ran down to the park and worked through a circuit of exercises including the two exercises we did last week and adding on some curl ups on the monkey bars (we had to do these in fives as our hands kept slipping off the wet bars!). We did 3 rounds of the circuit – 10 reps, 15 reps and 20 reps. We then ran home by a longer route than last time and promptly got in the pool to cool off!

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IMG_3171Mum was conscious that we would likely be eating at funny times for the next few hours so made us scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast.

IMG_8526Then there was nothing for it but to get showered, dressed and finalise our packing ready to leave 😦

Once checked in we had a ginormous slice of pizza to keep us going then made our way through security to the gate. Sadly there was a bit of a delay on our flight up to Newark Liberty which meant we had very little time to connect to our transatlantic flight. Fortunately the gates were close together so we were able to grab a really quick snack (a ridiculously overpriced sandwich for me) before boarding.

IMG_3186Unfortunately there was another delay due to a problem with the baggage scales so we sat for an hour before pushing back. I actually slept a bit and only woke up when they brought dinner round. As soon as I’d eaten I promptly fell asleep again (it was probably 11pm by then) but my eyes snapped open when I heard someone say “ice cream”. Actually, I caused Steve a great deal of amusement as I woke up and said, “did I hear ice cream?” Which he understood as me hearing the actual ice cream lol! It turned out to be a lemon sorbet but it was delicious and I went to sleep right after, sleeping right through until they brought breakfast thanks to us having 3 seats between the 2 of us: Steve sat on the aisle so I could lift the armrest, curl up in a ball and lie flat on the other 2 seats. A bit cramped but a much better sleep than bolt upright in my seat!

By some miracle our luggage actually arrived in Edinburgh with us (I had been doubtful thanks to a rather odd woman at the bag drop in Orlando, two flights and assorted delays, including to baggage) and we were back on the road quite soon (with a coffee stop half way to keep us alert). This, of course, was Thursday as we flew overnight and we were home around lunchtime. Knowing it was best to try and keep going rather than nap, we unpacked a bit then headed out to get some essential food shopping to see us through to our normal shop at the weekend. Steve actually went out to teach a class in the early evening and I decided to take a walk to keep moving and stop me falling asleep!

IMG_3188Sleep was a little disrupted on Thursday night (I was awake for a couple of hours at random during the night, but just read my book until I dozed off again). I had my alarm set for the all-important job of going to collect the cat from the cattery. With her health conditions and long list of meds I was a bit apprehensive about how she would be but was relieved to find there had been no problems at all and she was clearly very well looked after. She was in fine voice on the way home as she told me all about her holiday and spent a good chunk of time patrolling the house to check everything was how she wanted it. She also wouldn’t let me out of her sight. Anyone would think she missed me!

IMG_3196In a bid to keep moving I decided to walk down to my gym in the afternoon simply to sit in the hot tub and sauna. I knew if I stayed home I would fall asleep and really wanted to get back into the right sleep pattern for the time zone I’m in. The walk did the trick and I was feeling refreshed ready for our usual Friday night meal at our “local” (with a wee draft Bud Light for a  taste of “home”!)

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IMG_3199Although still tired, we got up on Saturday for parkrun as we know a run helps to reset the body clock.  Unlike Clermont last week it was a wet and windy morning to welcome us home but it was so nice to see lots of familiar faces once more. I wasn’t sure how well I would run as despite lots of running (in the heat, which boosts fitness in cooler weather) I was still jet lagged so was rather surprised to finish in exactly 24 minutes. That’s my fastest parkrun since late May and great motivation to try and get sub-24 again soon.

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What a difference a week makes!

To really reset our usual routine it was back to a longer run on Sunday. My alarm went off at 8am but I felt like I wanted to doze a little longer. When I opened my eyes what felt like 5 minutes later it was 10am – oops! Must have needed that!

I got organised and planned out a 10k route. No pressure on splits or time, just running to feel and getting my body use to running a little longer again (not only was I sticking to shorter distances in Florida, but I cut back in the last two weeks of term when my right leg was niggling a bit so have not run more than 5 miles since mid-June). It was pretty damp again and within the first mile the heavens opened and I got drenched. It then dried up and I finished my run looking like a scarecrow with hair sticking out all over the place, Thanks Scotland! Still, it was nice to be out and settling into the rhythm of a longer run. I was still a bit sleepy and felt sluggish in the middle of my run as I didn’t eat before heading out and was really running at lunchtime, but soon enough my body remembered how to fuel itself and I felt good.

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Summer in Scotland means the rain is warmer 😉

After a weekend of normal routine it seems hard to believe that I began the week festooned in sparkly mouse ears waving to assorted Disney characters in the shows and parades. Life can be rather funny at times. Still, it was a brilliant trip and I can’t wait to do it all again next summer. For now, time to get into training mode and get ready for the Loch Ness Marathon which is now creeping closer!

IMG_3023What’s the strangest week you’ve had recently?
What event are you training for?

A Parkrunner Abroad

One of the brilliant things about parkrun is that when you travel, certainly within the UK, you should be able to find an event near you and be welcomed to run. There aren’t so many events in the US (yet) but there is a well-established parkrun in Clermont, Florida and this year we finally got a chance to head down there and join a run.

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Originally the event took place on near enough the same route as the Cool Summer Mornings 5k that we have taken part in so many times at Clermont Waterfront Park, however they recently made a slight move within the park (about a mile or so further along the path) to avoid further cancellations due to the frequent other events in the park and some construction work that’s happening.

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We set off around 6:30am so we would have plenty of time to get there, with a little margin for error, and get parked. It all turned out to be really easy and we parked right by the start line where there were also some toilets. It actually reminded me a little of Al Lopez Park in Tampa where we previously did the Run Thru Hell 5k as there were covered shelters with picnic tables under them which were set up as event HQ.

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The start was all set up and there was a guest book for international visitors to sign. We then had a few minutes before the briefing to watch everyone arriving.

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As is standard, there was a briefing right before the start at 7:30am. What was unusual was that the briefing was split between a visitor (who is a run director at a parkrun in Northern Ireland) and the run director for the event. It was a nice touch and fun to hear a different accent. It certainly drew lots of cheers!

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Photo Credit: Kate Castleman on Clermont parkrun facebook page

After that, the run. There was a moment of confusion as the RD said “3-2-1 go!” To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what happened. I was near the front, heard the countdown and, like those ahead of me, began running. Next thing everyone stopped (dad ran into my back!) then we were waved on again. Clearly a false start of some description but not worth getting upset about as it was only a couple of seconds.

The route at Clermont is an out and back along part of the same path we’ve run on for Cool Summer Mornings, but heading in the opposite direction so those two routes do overlap. The first part of the route was in shade and felt quite pleasant as we were also heading into a breeze, but all too soon we were out in the glaring sun all the way to the turn. Dad was quite literally breathing down my neck for the first half of the run but got past me at the turn and sped off just as my legs began to turn to lead!

I actually ran pretty well for the first half, but the heat got to me in the second half and all I could think about was getting back to that shade for the final part of the run. When it finally came into sight I managed to up the pace a bit to cross the line in 25:28. That’s about 5 seconds slower than the previous week’s 5k, but the route was slightly longer and we were running a little later so that’s fair enough. My average pace was actually a bit faster and I held my speed for longer before succumbing to the heat. Any run in Florida in July is always going to be hard work (and it was particularly hot that morning apparently!).

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Photo credit: Hector Clamente on Clermont parkrun flickr group

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Once over the line I was handed my finish token and made my way over to the shelter which had been set up for barcode scanning. There was also a cooler with some bottles of water which had been provided by a very generous person – a great touch in the summer heat.

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I found Steve and dad, who had enjoyed his first ever parkrun, and we milled around for a bit cooling down, chatting to others and getting some photos. Like with my home parkrun, everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming, chatting easily and taking photos for us.

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Then it was back in the car for the half hour journey home to get showered and cleaned up. We had offered to take mum and dad out for breakfast so a short time later we were off again to head round to IHOP. We had coupons for free pancakes but added some sides and may have got carried away as each side came on a separate plate and we ended up with FOUR plates each. That’s some serious refuelling! Steve and I walked it off by heading home on foot as mum and dad had some errands to run.

UntitledThe parkrun results were pretty speedy and we actually had our emails before we left for breakfast. I was happy with mine in the conditions (despite several sub-24 times at home, I’ve NEVER managed to run even sub-25 in a 5k in Florida. It’s something I’d love to achieve one day) and now have an event PB to try and beat in future!
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Clermont parkrun was a fantastic parkrun tourism experience. If you’re ever in the area (not too far away if you’re staying somewhere handy for Disney World) then I recommend heading down there on a Saturday morning. We definitely plan to be back next time.

Are you a parkrun tourist?
What parkrun would you really like to do?

Week In Review – Having a Magical Time

It’s been a full week of holiday fun, but there’s still been some room for running and working out. As ever, I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share my week. I hope you like lots of photos as this week’s post has loads! Of course with being on holiday the pattern was a little different again. Here’s how it broke down:

Monday – 5k
Tuesday – short workout @ park
Wednesday – Epcot
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – shopping!
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – Disney Springs

We began the week with our second “club run” (dad calls us a running club when we have our holiday runs together!). It was the same 5k route that we did on our first morning last week, but I was feeling a little sluggish so took it at a steadier, more even pace. UntitledAfter a dip in the pool to cool off we had breakfast then I got myself spruced up for an excursion. There were a few errands along the way, but our destination was Dsney’s Grand Floridian where Steve and I had reservations for afternoon tea in the Garden View Lounge. We parked at the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC) to use the resort transportation. Mum and dad were heading to the Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours (they have annual passes) while we went to the GF. Since we had plenty of time we decided to get the ferry over to the MK together, then Steve and I took a resort launch to the GF. Untitled UntitledWe had a bit of a walk around the resort then checked in for our reservations. Not long after we ordered, there was an announcement that Cinderella and Prince Charming were going to come down the grand staircase and our server told us we could head on out to see them. Untitled Untitled UntitledOnce back at our table, our champagne had arrived (along with my rose from Princess Aurora’s rose garden), followed by our first course – fruits and cheeses – and our tea. My chosen blend was Perfect Afternoon. Untitled Untitled UntitledAfter that we were brought sandwiches and the tier with the scones and our chosen desserts – pastries. If you ever get the chance to do this, I definitely recommend it as the food is amazing. Needless to say, we just opted for a snack that evening as we were pretty full of delicious treats! Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled So as not to “overdo” things, we had a much quieter day planned for Tuesday. Steve and I decided to get up and head out for an early workout – a jog of just under a mile down to the playpark where we used the equipment there to create a workout. UntitledWe started with some core work in press-up position but with one leg raised on the step up to the slide. A bit like a one-legged mountain climber to work on knee drive. Untitled UntitledWe also used our old favourite the seesaw for some balance. It certainly makes squats interesting! Untitled UntitledThen we ran home by a different route which took us around the development rather than back the way we had come. It’s about 1.5 miles and provides a bit of variety. UntitledOnce home I spread my yoga mat by the pool again and happily worked through some of the Ashtanga sequence in the morning stillness before breakfast, then it was a relaxing day reading and snoozing by the pool until it was time for dinner. Chicken salad. UntitledWednesday had us back to the excitement of Disney. Ages ago dad pointed out that it was 25 years ago this month that we had our first family holiday to Florida. 25 years? I surely can’t be that old! At the time, it was billed as a “once in a lifetime” trip, never to be repeated, but I don’t think there’s been a year since that my parents haven’t been in Florida at some point, and of course now they have a home here which makes it much easier for all of us. To mark the occasion, it was decided that we would have a family day at the first ever Disney park we visited – Epcot. Thinking back, it sure has changed in 25 years!  To really go for it, my sister organised reunion-style tops for us all to wear as we walked around the park and we wore those “I’m celebrating” buttons  as well. Obviously this meant we had to get some group photos to remember the day. UntitledHighlights included FINALLY getting on the Frozen-themed ride not just once, but TWICE, enjoying some adult beverages (prosecco in Italy and a frozen margarita in Mexico) and re-visiting old favourites like Test Track (where my hair seemed to have a mind of its own in our ride photo!) and Soarin’. I, of course, couldn’t resist my signature jumping shot with Spaceship Earth as the backdrop, as well as a couple of yoga poses. Anything goes in Disney, right? UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledThursday was a little more sedate after such a long day. Steve and I got up for a run, but dad needed a lie-in so our running club was down a member. We created our own route – an out and back along a route where we knew there was a Strava segment! – which totalled 3 miles. I had woken up with some tightness in my upper back and although it was ok running, 3 miles was enough for me at that point. UntitledWe spent the rest of our day relaxing by the pool, reading and snoozing on a sun lounger before a dinner of my mum’s slow cooker mince. Lovely! Untitled

Friday started a little sharper as mum and dad had appointments with their hairdresser so Steve and I were dropped off at the nearby outlet mall for some shopping. We probably went round all the shops about 3 times (with refreshment breaks along the way!) and came away with a few bargains. Untitled

Since we were out all day, dinner was leftovers from Thursday.

On Saturday we had another early start as we were going for our first ever bit of international parkrun tourism. That’s right, we FINALLY made it to Clermont waterfront parkrun. We even got dad to register for his barcode and join us in the run. It was a great experience and I’ll write a separate post about it as soon as I get time. UntitledPost-parkrun we treated mum and dad to breakfast at IHOP then we had plans with my sister. First we headed off for a little more shopping. There’s a small nearby complex with some shops we’d not so far visited and were keen to go. After that, we were Disney-bound. First, some mini golf at Winter Summerland, a festive/beach-themed place. We played the winter course first then stopped for a quick refreshment before going around the summer course. Despite my beer I was super-consistent and got the same score on both courses. Maybe my golf is improving at last! UntitledUntitledUntitledWe then headed over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s not a resort I’ve visited before but my sister’s friend spent a couple of nights there last week so she had been over to use the pool and have dinner. I was fascinated by the fact there were animals right outside the hotel windows! UntitledWe also toasted marshmallows over the campfire and had a poke around the gift shop (it is Disney after all!) before our dinner reservations at Boma, an African/Indian inspired buffet.

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I was hungry, but was conscious of the huge breakfast that morning. I still managed soup, salad, ribs with sides and a selection of the amazing desserts, along with seemingly endless glasses of Jungle Juice. It was brilliant! Untitled UntitledUntitled

I was so tired when I got home that I was pleased to have a chance to sleep a little later on Sunday morning. We did have Disney plans though, and late morning we piled into the car to head to Disney Springs where they were having a “Christmas in July” theme. I never get to see Disney at Christmas so was super excited for this! Untitled

Apart from some shopping, the real highlight was meeting summer Santa – red shorts, Hawaiian shirt and red Converse high tops. It was great!

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We also enjoyed a Snowflake Margarita as our afternoon refreshment.

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And took advantage of some Photopass opportunities.

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Once the money was spent (you’re welcome America!) it was home for dinner. This time mum had some pork sitting in a marinade all day so it was delicious. Note the sprouts – Christmas in July lol!

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What a brilliant week! Only a few more days of the trip left, but you can expect another update on our adventures in next week’s post.

Christmas in July: yes or no?
What would be your ideal Disney day?