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?

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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?

Friday Finds – 14th July

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

Since I’m on holiday (or vacation for my American friends) I thought this week’s Friday Finds could be devoted to one of my favourite holiday pastimes…running!

If running whilst on a trip is new to you, Women’s Running weighs up the pros and cons of some of the common tips given to travelling runners. I’m lucky that I’m not the only runner in the family so it’s easy to set time aside, but being in a hot, humid climate means I do switch from my usual evening runs or leisurely starts to pretty much rolling out of bed into my trainers to avoid the harsh conditions later on.

If you’d like to take things further and turn your trip into a runcation, then Runner’s World is here with some great tips to help you get the most out of your trip. After several trips involving running or racing, I can definitely recommend the idea.

Inevitably, sometimes we have to travel right after an event, leading to muscles seizing up (I’ve definitely thought longingly of the emergency slide when faced with a set of airline steps!). To help, Triathlete magazine has assembled some tips to help with recovery whilst stuck in a car or plane.

One of the difficulties I face in heading to Florida is the huge difference in temperature and humidity. Running in hot weather can slow you by up to a minute a mile as your body has to work harder to keep you cool. Studies have shown that becoming better acclimatised makes more of a difference than pre-cooling the skin, leading to the suggestion of a hot bath before a hot weather workout. Now that sounds just about crazy enough to work!

And finally, travelling to run or race can lead to some great stories to tell afterwards. A rather disconcerting incident involving a Paris marathon portable toilet and some raisins springs to mind, as does the additional security check I was once treated to thanks to my suspicious looking HRM! If you want more like that, Women’s Running has gathered together a few. Do you have any to add?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday!

To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what day it is – being away from your normal routine will do that to you! – but thought it would be fun to continue my week in review posts while I’m on holiday so I can share what I’m up to. As usual, linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

I didn’t leave for my trip until mid-week, but the preparations for going and a different routine away from home meant this week’s schedule looked a little different:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – flight
Thursday – 5k run
Friday – rest
Saturday – 5k race
Sunday – rest

Monday went pretty much as normal workout-wise.There was no work so I took a walk to the gym for my usual swim and had one or two errands to get ready for going away. Most importantly I had my nails done so they were “holiday ready”!

UntitledTuesday was a bit busier so “rest” really is a bit inaccurate! The day began with a trip to the cattery with The Boss so that she is looked after while I’m away. A bit harder for me this time due to her health conditions, but I know the owner will look after her very well and she’s in the best possible hands away from home. Once she was safely delivered, I did some tidying around the house and got my suitcase packed ready for an early start on Wednesday.

UntitledWe were away around 5am on Wednesday to give us plenty of time to park the car, transfer to the airport, check in and make our way through security. Once in the departure lounge we had plenty of time so got some breakfast and wandered around a bit until it was time for our flight.

UntitledWe were flying first to Newark Liberty, clearing immigration there then connecting to our flight to Orlando where mum and dad were waiting to collect us and take us to the house. It was a pretty long day and mum had one of my favourites – bolognese – ready in the slow cooker so we could eat almost as soon as we got in. After that we pretty much headed to bed and enjoyed being in a horizontal rather than seated position after all the hours of flying!

UntitledOf course we awoke quite early on Thursday but had already organised with dad that we would go for a 5k run around 7:30 am (while the temperature is still comparatively “cool”). What with dad just returning from running after his recent op and Steve still weary from his half Ironman on Sunday, I soon found myself running ahead by myself. It’s hard to maintain a fast pace in the Florida humidity and the hours of travel soon caught up to see me fade in the last mile where Steve, whose legs had apparently woken up, passed me. It was good to get my legs moving again and set me up for the rest of the day.

UntitledThe first day of the holiday is always a run followed by heading out for breakfast. We went to a nearby IHOP for some pancakes which were amazing! After that mum and I always go to the day spa for pedicures while Steve amuses himself with catching up on news etc in Panera next door.

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Toes ready for public consumption, we then hit a nearby outlet mall for a bit of shopping until it was time to head home for dinner – leftover bolognese 🙂

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Friday was much more restful. I began the day by spreading my yoga mat out by the pool for some sun salutations, then largely lay by the pool reading, snoozing and soaking up the sun for the rest of the day. I did, however, head out for some walks to make sure I moved a bit and wasn’t completely sedentary! Dinner that night was some delicious chicken with lemon and capers. I do love my mum’s cooking!

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UntitledWe were up early again on Saturday to head over to Clermont for the Cool Summer Mornings 5k, which I already wrote about. Again, the afternoon was spent lazing by the pool and reading until a late afternoon storm forced us in. Dinner was ribs with baked potatoes (I’m going to share a lot of my meals while I’m away, partly so I have a record of them and partly because who doesn’t love a bit of their mum’s cooking?).

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UntitledSunday was another restful day. Steve and I took a walk in the morning before breakfast (pretty much always watermelon, toast and coffee when we’re here) then settled by the pool to read and snooze. This is how I like to reset and recharge after a busy school year, and although we have some plans in the days ahead, beginning with some lazy, restful days really helps. Oh, and dinner was turkey. Mum plans her meals well and cooks a lot from scratch. Yum!

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UntitledAfter the first few days of my holiday being kind of busy at the end of last week, it’s been great to spend a few days relaxing. I’m ready to do a few more interesting things in the week ahead, which I’ll share (along with some food photos!) in next week’s review.

What’s your favourite thing to do on holiday?
Any book recommendations for my lazy, poolside days?

Race Report – Cool Summer Mornings 5k July 2017

Locals are describing the Central Florida weather as “steamy” right now, but that didn’t stop us from heading off on our now-annual trip to Clermont for the July race in the Cool Summer Mornings series. (You can read about my previous experiences of this race: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Cool Summer Mornings 5k

The race begins at 7:15 am so it was a 5:15am alarm so we could be on the road at 5:45 – “we” being your Running Princess, Steve and my parents. My sister was supposed to be joining is but ducked out as she had managed to get a fastpass for one of the new Avatar attractions at Disney and didn’t want to miss out.

We arrived around 6:30am and got a parking spot not too far from packet pickup then as usual we headed along to get our race packs and took them back to the car to get organised. We got stuck in a long queue to get our packets this year which was odd as normally it’s a quick in and out. Once organised there was enough time for a “comfort break” before heading over to the start line. I was standing with dad and just before the race start they played a version of the national anthem suitable for a race with the theme Rock’n the USA, then it was time to race.

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The route is an out and back along the shores of Lake Minneola and the setting really is beautiful. Unfortunately I don’t really notice it too much while I’m running as the humid air saps all my energy! The start was a little crowded so I hugged the side and set off rather quickly in order to get some space then maintained what I knew to be far too fast a pace for the conditions. When my Garmin bleeped to tell me my first mile had been completed in less than 8 minutes, I knew I would pay for it in the last mile!

Cool Summer Mornings 5kI knew Steve was ahead of me and was able to see him at the turnaround. I then gave dad a wave as he was a little behind me this year (this was just his third run since he had an op a few weeks ago). I saw mum a bit further on as she was enjoying her walk, something that really seems to be encouraged here as a way of getting more people active.

There was a water station and since it was so hot I grabbed a cup to take a quick mouthful then pour the rest of the icy water down my neck to cool me down. My pace had slowed to a more sensible 8:19 in the second mile, but I knew the last mile was going to be a tough one as it’s into direct sun with very little shade or shelter. After working hard to that point, increasing my heart rate and getting warmer, I knew this would be the point I would have to dig in.

And that’s exactly how it was.

It’s strange how a distance I’m so familiar with, that I run every week can feel so hard, yet in hot and humid weather the energy is just sapped as your body works harder to keep you cool. I was conscious that I was getting slower and slower, but did manage to find a last spurt of speed when I saw the finish gantry come into sight to finish with 25:23. I was about 20 seconds faster last year, but was in slightly better form so I’m happy enough with that.

Cool Summer Mornings 5kOnce over the line I was handed my medal and an ice cold bottle of water, while my timing chip was taken. I then headed straight for the cooling tent to get my temperature back down while I sipped my water.

Cool Summer Mornings 5kOnce we were all finished we headed over to the food tent where I collected a hotdog, watermelon, banana, pastry, granola bar, crisps, a can of soda and a beer. We then enjoyed sitting on a bench in the sun until it was time for the awards.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k
Cool Summer Mornings 5k
Cool Summer Mornings 5k

Sadly no award for me this year as my category turned out to be super competitive and I came 5th. In order to place I would have needed my best 5k time of the year – not happening in this humidity! However Steve won the masters prize and dad, despite not being in his best form, took second in his age group.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k

Despite not winning a prize, I was rather intrigued by my study of the results later on. Out of 514 finishers, a whopping 336 (65%) were female, which supports all I’ve read about the growth of female participation in the US. In my category alone there were 54 women (the biggest field in any of the age groups) and I was 5th (56th finisher overall, 18th female). Even the oldest participant was female – a sprightly 80 years old – and as the only one in her age group, she left with a prize. Awesome! It’s fantastic to see such huge participation from women and definitely something I want to see continue. Everyone was really friendly and several participants chatted to me as we milled around waiting for the awards.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k

This will be our only race during our trip this year (next week we’re going back to Clermont for a bit of parkrun tourism!) and it made for an enjoyable morning.

Cool Summer Mornings 5k
Cool Summer Mornings 5k

‘Your Pace or Mine?’ Follow Up: A Running Record

In my recent review of Lisa Jackson’s Your Pace or Mine, I noted that the final section of the book is given over to the reader to use as a record of their running. I really liked this idea, but since I read the book on my Kindle rather than in paper format, I didn’t have the opportunity to fill my record in. Instead, I thought it might be fun to write up my record book (to date) as a blog post. It’s going to be a long one so put the kettle on!

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Favourite Race Photo
I have a few photos that I like: some from mid-race, some post-race medal shots and some of me leaping around like a loony after a run. But when it comes to actual race photos, my all-time favourite is this one from the Paris Marathon in 2016. I was undertrained thanks to being stopped in my tracks by a stress fracture at the end of 2015, but on race day I was injury-free and determined to get out there and enjoy a self-conducted running tour of my favourite city. I ran it my own way, stopped to take photos and enjoyed a buffet of orange segments, sugar lumps and that pink sports drink they hand out that acts like rocket fuel! When the photographers snapped me in the finishing straight, I looked like I’d had an awesome time, even though I was completely exhausted and my legs were begging for mercy. Sometimes you just have to forget your race goals and go out there to have fun.

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Name
Allison a.k.a The Running Princess

Date When Started Running
I don’t have the exact date for this one as my diaries from that part of my life are not all that detailed. That said, I can remember the day itself clearly. It was the beginning of term in August of 2005. We actually started on my birthday that year and it’s entirely possible that it was actually on my birthday that I went for my first run. My friend who is a PE teacher (and at the time we were car sharing for work as well) took me to the local park and told me to start running at the pace I thought was about right. Predictably, I set off far too fast and didn’t get very far at all. My friend then sorted out my pace and so began weeks of building up the length of time I could run before having a walk break (which had to be shorter then the running time). The first time I ran all the way round the park (about a mile and a  half) without stopping was my first big running milestone.

Age When Started Running
I was just about clinging on to my twenties when I took those first tentative steps, however I was in my early thirties before meeting Steve and venturing beyond the odd slow 5k plod.

Reasons Why I Run
My first ever blog post was all about why I run, but I suppose that was really only about why I started, not why I run now. At first it was all about a personal challenge and wanting to raise funds for charity in memory of my gran; now, running is a habit. In many ways it continues to be a personal challenge as I look to improve my times or push myself in new ways, but even without that challenge I would still want to run and it only takes a spell of injury to remind me of how important running is for clearing my head, helping me to manage stress, releasing endorphins and giving my thoughts some clarity. I love how running makes me feel both mentally and physically as it helps me to keep sane as well as fit. Running makes my body lean and strong. And it also makes me hungry! I love the appetite running gives me and surprising people with exactly how much food I can put away!

IMG_0605Proudest Running Moments
Running has given me lots of opportunities to feel proud of myself, so narrowing it down to just a few was a bit challenging! Here are some of my highlights:

  1. Completing my first ever marathon in Paris in 2010
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  2. Running my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon at Aviemore in 2012
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  3. Topping the podium for the first time ever when I won my age group at the Cool Summer Mornings 5k in 2013
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  4. Running my marathon PB in Paris in 2014
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  5. That time I ran 4 races in one weekend at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015
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  6. Finishing as second female and ninth overall!) in the Caped Crusader 5k in 2016
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‘Dreaming Big’ Goals (Races, Places, Times)
I love this heading. A chance for me to think about the things I would do if there was absolutely nothing to stop me. I would love to run all the marathon majors, something which isn’t an option for me right now as they don’t all fit in with my school holidays. I’ve run London, but would love to go back again with a Good For Age time. Right now that would be sub 3:45, a full 20 minutes faster than my current PB. We are dreaming big though! I would also love to do a Run Disney race. I know there’s a half marathon at Disneyland Paris now, but my ultimate dream would be the Walt Disney World marathon. My sister has done this, but again I’m held back by my school terms. Finally, there’s this year’s goal of some race PBs: if I’m dreaming big then it’s a sub-4 marathon, a sub-1:55 half marathon and a sub-50 10k. My other dream is to run in Central Park. It doesn’t have to be a race, I’d just love the experience of lacing up my trainers and heading off for a run in such a famous location.

Most Memorable Races
I’ve got a lot of wonderful memories from racing, but I think I’m going to pick my “firsts”:

  1. My first ever “proper” race – the Kinross 10k in 2009
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  2. My first ever half marathon – Aviemore in 2009. Memorable because Steve proposed the night before so all I can remember of the race is running along lost in thoughts of wedding dresses, possible venues and the most fun way to tell my parents later that day!
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  3. My first ever marathon – Paris in 2010
    First marathon - Paris 2010
  4. My first ever experience of the Paris Breakfast Run in 2014
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I’d also like to include running around the race circuit at Knockhill for the Graham Clark Memorial race, running over the Forth Road Bridge as part of a 10k race, and, of course, that time I ran a 10k PB (by one second!) at the Great Scottish Run then proudly announced my achievement to one of my running heroes, Paula Radcliffe!
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And although not technically a race, I’m including an honourable mention for parkrun during the I Am Team GB weekend when I got to meet a local Olympian and see a Rio medal up close.

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Favourite Running Motto/Mantra/Race Sign/Motivational Quote
My favourite mantra is “I can, I am, I’m strong” which I came up with for my first marathon. I had picked up an injury and seemed to be surrounded by people telling me that running my marathon was impossible. My mantra was a way to fight back against all the people saying, “you can’t” and remind myself that anything is possible.
I don’t often remember race signs, but I do love seeing all the firemen out in force in Paris with signs slung from their ladders declaring “les pompiers sont avec vous” (the firemen are with you). As for a motivational quote, it has to be this one:

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Funniest Running Moments/Favourite Stories Heard on Runs
Well, there was that time I got charged at by some scary looking cows whilst taking part in a trail race. Unfortunately the race route was such that I then had to run back through the same field on my return. Thankfully the cows had moved on to another part of the field by then!
There was also the time I did the Edinburgh Winter Run around Arthur’s Seat. It was freezing cold and as I came down off the hill it started snowing. I thought this was absolutely hilarious so the official photos showed me laughing like an idiot in the middle of a blizzard!

Favourite Medals/Race T-shirts
Funnily enough, I have a fair few of these! After a bit of thinking, I’ve decided on the medal and finisher’s T-shirt from Paris in 2010 (my first marathon), my London Marathon medal and, as a collection, my 4 Paris Marathon medals and the commemorative T-shirt I bought to mark the 40th edition last year. As a bonus, I’m also going to include a medal from a virtual race – the Platform 9 3/4k from the Hogwarts Running Club, an event I’ve participated in 3 times now.

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Charities Fundraised For and Amounts Raised
Since I began running to raise funds for charity, you’d think I would know exactly what my total is. But I don’t. Back then donations were made by sponsorship form, however I think across the 3 times I’ve run the 5k Race For Life I’ve probably raised around £150 for Cancer Research.

An early example of my signature "medal pose"!

In 2011 I pledged my support to a local charity, PKAVS (Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services). They provide support to a number of different groups, perhaps most especially known for supporting young carers. I was inspired to help as a friend works for the charity and listening to her describing the challenges some people faced made me feel I should do something about it. Working alongside the charity, we set up the idea of “going that extra mile”, with participants joining teams for the Edinburgh Marathon Relay. Most were new to running and Steve put on weekly training sessions (often aided by moi) to help everyone prepare. For me, it was actually an extra 26.2 miles as I committed to running both the London and Edinburgh marathons which were just a few weeks apart. It was my first really big challenge which I completed, with a PB (since beaten) in Edinburgh and a total of £800 raised for a good cause. It was a real family affair as Steve also ran the marathon while both my dad and my sister were in relay teams.

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More recently, Steve and I took on an even bigger challenge when we decided to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support following our experiences of seeing family members and others close to us battling cancer. In 2014 I was supposed to run 3 marathons (Paris, Edinburgh and Loch Ness) however injury forced me to withdraw from Loch Ness and replace it with an all-new challenge: cycling! I took to two wheels and completed Cycletta Scotland which had Macmillan as the title sponsor. In 2015 I decided to take care of my unfinished business by running the Paris marathon for Macmillan in order to complete that triple marathon challenge I had set. But, being one who never does things by half, I also decided to go bigger with my cycling and take on the Etape Caledonia. I then rounded off what was basically a spring challenge by taking on the Edinburgh Marathon Festival – 5k and 10k on Saturday then half marathon and final leg of the relay on Sunday (logisitcs meant it wasn’t possible for me to go from the half to the full marathon). With over £5000 raised in 2014 (with massive thanks to my friend Ian and his clients for their support) and a further £1000 in 2015, that made a grand total of over £6000 raised for Macmillan. Phew!

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Biggest Challenges Overcome in Races
Generally speaking, my biggest challenge is injury. I have completed marathons despite being in a great deal of the wrong kind of discomfort (I’m looking at you Lochaber Marathon of Pain!) and also when undertrained as a result of injury. This is why I believe I’ve never truly demonstrated what I’m capable of over 26.2 miles.  But the fact that I’ve completed those races demonstrates that I can overcome challenges, usually with an altered goal.

Races With Best Snacks/Entertainment/Crowd Support
Without a doubt the best snacks have been at US races, particularly the Cool Summer Mornings 5k which often has post-race hot dogs, pretzels, beer, etc despite the fact that these will be consumed around 8am! The Chocolate Sundae Run, while a bit of a boring route, did have the draw of ice cream at the finish line! I also enjoy the on course “buffet” at the Paris Marathon as they lay out raisins, sugar lumps, sliced banana and orange segments. I can say without a word of a lie that those oranges have been the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted and a sugar lump late on the in race provides a fantastic boost to get you moving.
IMG_6102 When it comes to both entertainment and crowd support, the title needs to be shared by both London and Paris. I run with one earphone in so I can tune into my music if I need to without having to faff about, but I have absolutely no recollection at all of actually listening to my playlist in London thanks to all the various places blaring out music along the route, the wall of noise in Canary Wharf and the unwavering crowd support in the final stages along the Embankment when every fibre of your being is screaming to stop but every time you do, someone shouts at you to keep on going. In Paris there has always been phenomenal support from “Les Pompiers” but perhaps not as big a crowd as in London. That all changed in 2016 when, probably in an act of defiance at the atrocities that have taken place in the city in recent times, the streets were lined with supporters cheering the runners on and fighting back against those who commit such terrible acts. Paris also prides itself on the huge number of “animations” (entertainment) along the route. There are an assortment of bands in just about every genre you can think of from rock and pop to a bit of German oompahpah and the always fun samba bands. Many have dancers as well and the lift the entertainment gives the runners is visible.

Favourite Fancy-Dress Outfits
Running in fancy dress is not really my thing, but it has happened:

  1. Taking part in a Santa Run every year
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  2. Wearing my kilt for both the Perth Kilt Run and the Paris Breakfast Run
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3. Celebrating our parkun’s birthday with fancy dress. So far a beach party theme (in November!) and a superhero theme. To be honest, I quite enjoyed running as Supergirl!
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Most Beautiful Places Run In
I live in Scotland so beautiful places to run are often just a few minutes away and I love nothing more in nice weather (it can be a bit miserable and lonely when the weather isn’t so good).
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Away from my standard training runs, the Lochaber Marathon was beautiful, even if I didn’t really enjoy the race thanks to an injury flaring up. And of course, there’s my beloved Paris. What a beautiful city to run in !
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Countries I’ve Run In
Scotland (obviously), England (London Marathon), France (Paris Marathon), USA (training runs and events in Florida every July). I’m really going to have to work on adding to that list!

Cities I’ve Run In
6/7 of the Scottish Cities: Perth, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness
London
Paris
Davenport, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Clermont, Florida

Marathon Majors Completed
Only London. One day…

Friends I’ve Made Through Running
Running has brought a lot of people into my life, from those I’ve trained for marathons with (connected for life!) to those I consider my “parkrun family”. Running also led me to blogging and there are several people I’ve come into contact with through blogging that I would probably never have met otherwise like Jaynie, Danielle and Kyla. It’s also what ultimately brought me to the Tough Girl Tribe and the fantastic women there. Running is such a fantastically inclusive community and provides a shared experience to base a friendship on or just start a conversation. Just one of the many reasons why I love it.
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Personal Bests (Time/Date) 5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2, Ultra, Tri
I’ve got these listed on my Race History tab, but here they are again:

5k – 23:14 @ Perth parkrun 2015
10k – 50:14 @ Great Scottish Run 10k 2015 (aka That Time I Met Paula!)
13.1 – 1:56:35 @ Aviemore Highland Half Marathon 2012
26.2 – 4:05:07 @ Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2014

Race Record
This is a list that could go on for a while! All my race reports since I started the blog are under the Race Reports tab, but to summarise (and account for those pre-blog years!):

5k x 33 (inc Christmas events)
Parkrun x 66
5 mile x 2
10k x 20
10 mile x 3
Half marathon x 13
Marathon x 8
Other distances (e.g. EMF Relay, CHAS Devil Dash) x 10

Total = 155 events (89 if you don’t count parkrun) – phew!

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And now it’s your turn! Either write a post of your own to create your record book or share some memories in the comments below. I can’t wait to read them…!

My Year of Running 2016 (Link Up)

Today I’m linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC to share some thoughts on my running in 2016. I first saw this idea in a post from Lucy at Paddle Pedal Pace, then more recently one from my blog friend Jessie at The Right Fits (we linked up on a post earlier this year too) so decided to join in as getting involved with linkups can be good fun and help you to find great new blogs to read. So here we go…

  • Best race experience
    I actually didn’t race all that much this year thanks to the stress fracture I suffered at the end of 2015. I guess I didn’t want to push my luck, so limited what I entered to make sure it was races I REALLY wanted to do. That said, anyone who knows me well (or has been reading my blog for a while!) will likely guess that I’ll pick the Paris Marathon here. I may not have been at my physical peak for the race, but nothing beats running through the Paris streets, taking in the famous sights and soaking up the atmosphere from beginning to end.
    Can't stay away from Paris - back for more in 2016!
  • Best run
    At first I thought this was going to be a tough question. Would it be my first parkrun after my injury (a personal worst time-wise but I was just so damn thrilled to be running again that I loved every second!) or one of those beautiful trail runs that Steve has been taking me on in recent weeks? But I’ve decided it has to be that August parkrun which formed part of the I Am Team GB celebrations. Meeting a local Olympic medallist before the run was awesome and inspired me to run my fastest parkrun time of the year. A fantastic running memory!

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  • Best new piece of running gear
    I’m a bit of a running gear addict, so this one is probably a bit trickier, but I think I’m going to choose my new earphones. I love to listen to podcasts when I’m running but finding ways to tuck the cables out of the way can be a bit irritating, so this year I decided to get myself some wireless ones. I tend to only put one of the buds in so I can hear the ambient noise, so that influenced my choice, but as a long-time fan of Yurbuds, I opted for their female-specific wireless version. They’re easy to use, comfortable and the controls are easily accessible. Perfect for me.
  • Best running advice you’ve received this year
    Take your time. I don’t mean running slowly, but returning to running post-injury. It’s tempting to try and rush straight back to where you were pre-injury (I’ve probably been guilty of this in the past) so when the time came to start reintroducing running once my stress fracture had healed, I listened VERY carefully to the sage advice of my podiatrist. I put my super-sensible head on and when I wasn’t happy that I was fully ready to run, backed right off for another couple of weeks. I then followed his plan to the letter and made a gradual return to running. It’s now more than a year since I suffered that injury and so far so good!
  • Most inspirational runner
    I’m inspired by so many different people from the elites, to the everyday athlete. Often, it’s those everyday people just striving to do their best that are the most inspirational, so that’s the sort of runner I want to choose. It’s also really important to me to choose a female runner for this particular answer, so it has to be Sarah Williams from Tough Girl Challenges. I’ve written before about how much I love her podcast, filled with inspiring women taking on incredible challenges, and this forms the motivation for my midweek runs. But Sarah herself is a real inspiration, quitting her 9-5 city job to do something she truly loves and which can make a real difference. This year she ran the Marathon des Sables having come back from some health issues which had caused her to defer her place from last year and I loved following her journey. I’ve never met Sarah, but from chatting to her online and listening to her on the podcast every week, I kind of feel like I know her (hopefully that doesn’t make me sound like a creepy stalker!) and am definitely inspired by her.
  • Favourite picture from a run or race this year
    Without a doubt, it has to be this one from the finishing straight in Paris. Looking at this always brings a smile to my face as I’m quite clearly loving the experience, even though I wasn’t able to train as much as I would have liked to do the race justice. A great reminder that running does not always have to be about being the best but about having the best time!
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  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
    Hmmm. There are a few options here. I was tempted to pick the Paris Breakfast Run, but it’s not technically a race, so I’m going to pick the Caped Crusader 5k. This was a small, newish race I took part in when I was in Florida and am picking it a) because it’s a great memory from our Florida trip and b) because the small nature of the race meant that I got a really great finish position – 2nd female and 9th place overall! Probably one of my best racing achievements (and the main reason for picking this one over my other Florida race experience this year).
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
    New discoveries. I finally started going to yoga (which I love), tried out some trail running (love that too) and actually listened to my body properly, backing off when I had to. Hopefully this has all made me a stronger runner as we head into 2017…

Phew! What a lot of great running memories. Despite a late start to my running this year I’ve still crammed in a lot and had a blast running, blogging and connecting with people. I wonder what 2017 has in store?

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Fancy joining in? All the easy peasy instructions are here. Enjoy!

Eat Pray Run DC Year of Running 2016

US v UK Running Lingo

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I’m always intrigued by linguistic differences both within the UK and between other English-speaking countries. I notice this most when I visit Florida, and for the first day or so my dad often reminds me to “speak American” so I can be understood! And it’s not just me. Earlier this week I got an email from my blogger friend Jessie at The Right Fits with an idea about working together on a post looking at some of the differences between US and UK running lingo. Jessie ran the London Marathon this year and her experience there, combined with reading UK-based running blogs like mine, really made her notice differences in the way those in the US talk about running compared to here in the UK. We put our heads together to bring you this post – US v UK Running Lingo: A User Guide!

(You can read Jessie’s version of this post here)

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PR/PB: Personal Record vs. Personal Best!
Jessie may hear some Americans call it a PB, but generally it seems that PR is the preferred noun to discuss a personal record. PR is even used as a verb: “She PR’ed at Boston!”
Of course PB’s are the lingo in the UK, including as a verb: “She PB’ed in her race!”!

I ran my biggest PB at the Paris Marathon in 2014:IMG_2863

Tank/Vest:
To Jessie, when she thinks of a vest, she thinks of a down winter gilet, not what she calls a tank top. But in the UK, a “vest” is your sleeveless running top: “He was wearing his club vest.”

Sneakers/Trainers:
Jessie says she really loves the term “trainers” and is hoping to bring it to the US! Yet currently, if she mentioned trainers to her friends, they’d think she was talking about a personal trainer who’s helping her with strength training, not the Brooks on her feet!

Gear check/Bag drop:
Runners in the US drop off their post-race stuff at Gear Check. In the UK, it’s Bag Drop!

Packet pickup/Registration:
At the expo, our US friends head to packet pickup ahead of a race. In the UK, you just head to registration.

Boston (and BQ)/London (and GFA = Good For Age):
I commented on this on Jessie’s “What it Means to Run Boston” post that in the UK, Boston isn’t the big deal. Rather, the “big” deal is the London Marathon, and here, you want to run a “Good for Age” time in another marathon in order to get in. In the US, it’s all about the “BQ!”

Bib/Race number:
To non-runners, the term bib probably means something a baby wears when eating in a high chair, but to US runners, the “bib” is what you pin on your “vest” with your race number. I just call it a race number!

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Corral/Pen:
In the US, runners are grouped into starting corrals. Which corral you end up in depends on your qualifying time or your predicted finish time, but in the UK, it’s the starting pen!

Sweatpants/Trackies (tracksuit bottoms):
Chilly before a race? Americans don their sweats. You put on your trackies or trackie bottoms in the UK!

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Portapotty/Portable Toilet:
In this post, Jessie discovered the existence of the female urinal! But even the regular facilities have different lingo- in the US, these are portapotties. We refer to them as portable toilets or portaloos (although this one is a brand name and I know they can be quite protective of it, so let’s stick to portable toilets!).

Spandex/Lycra:
Those tight fitted shorts? Jessie calls them Spandex. I call them Lycra.

Register/sign up for a race, vs. ENTER a race:
In the US, they register for a race or they sign up. In the UK we enter a race!

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OTHERS:
Since some of my family lives part of the year in Florida, I’ve had the opportunity to run races in the US as well as the UK, like this one last month:

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I’ve noticed that at almost every race I’ve done in the US, the national anthem is played at the start. There’s nothing like that in the UK, it’s just any announcements from the race director, then you’re on your way.

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Jessie has also noticed from my blog and from following UK runners on Instagram how huge parkrun is here. When she ran the London Marathon she saw a sign that read “Wave if you love parkrun!” and felt “in the know” about what parkrun was from my blog. While there are some parkruns in the US (currently 6 compared to over 400 in the UK), it’s still very much a new thing and unfamiliar to most, whereas for me the last 5k of a marathon is “just a parkrun to go!”. Where Jessie lives they have Flapjack Friday, which I understand as an early morning run followed by some food. Sounds pretty good to me!

One last difference- Post Race Food:
Jessie found this one really interesting. I’ve noticed that there tends to be a difference in post-race food. I don’t mean in the goody bags [or SWAG bags in the US] but the food laid out. In the UK we really only have food laid out if the race has been organized by a running club and it will likely be sandwiches (using the UK term meaning the filling is between slices of bread) or filled rolls (what Jessie would probably call a “bun”) and home baking (cakes, biscuits [that’s “cookies” in the US, we only call them cookies if they have chocolate chips!], etc) and any fruit is pretty much bananas or maybe apples whereas races I’ve been to in the US lay out a lot of BBQ, potato chips [“crisps” in the UK], pretzels, watermelon, etc.”

Jessie agrees, having noticed this at the London Marathon. The post-race food wasn’t quite as extensive as she sees at US marathons. Though they did have Jack Link’s beef jerky (straight from Northern Wisconsin!) which made her feel a bit more at home!

Huge thanks to Jessie for sharing her thoughts for this post!

If you haven’t started following Jessie, definitely do so! And with the helpful lingo in this post, you’ll actually know what she’s talking about! 😉

You can follow Jessie on BlogLovin and Instagram!

Fun in the Florida Sun!

As I said my goodbyes before heading off on my Florida trip at the beginning of last month, I found myself rather confused by the number of people who kept telling me not to run too much while I was away. I really couldn’t understand why they were telling me that. I mean, I know for some people a holiday is a chance to take a break from working out, but for me it’s a key part of my day to day life and it would feel really strange not to take advantage of the nice weather to enjoy training in different surroundings. The idea of not running just didn’t make sense! So today I thought I would share a bit about how I train when I’m in my “second home”, as well as some of the other fun things I did when I was away.

The first thing to say is that I know my summer break is a chance to relax and recharge, so I’m certainly not getting on the plane with any intention of training as much as I would at home. I also don’t really plan it in the same amount of detail as I would at home. My runs are shorter and are fitted in around any other things we might have planned in the week (the only fixed things are the two races we did, which you can read about here and here). And given the heat, I know my pace will suffer so I prefer to just relax and enjoy the early morning run, perhaps listening to a podcast or perhaps enjoying listening to the world waking up. Similarly, I’m not going to have access to the same facilities for my other workouts, but Steve and I work with the resources we have, maybe doing some drills or using playground equipment to create a workout. This year, I took a mat with me and did a bit of poolside yoga as well to help stretch my body out.

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My favourite Florida workouts are the days we get up early and head out for a run with my dad. None of us run at the same pace, but we cover the same route and have a few sections where we will pass each other going the opposite way, so it’s not always just me trundling along at the back (yes, my dad is still pretty speedy, although I did manage to pass him one morning!). When we get back home, Steve and I head into the pool to cool off then do a bit of stretching or yoga. I really enjoyed those poolside yoga sessions. They made me feel relaxed yet focused and were a great start to the day. After that, we dry off and enjoy breakfast outside under the lanai with my parents – usually watermelon, toast and coffee.  By the time we’ve eaten, the sun is hitting the sun deck and we can slather on the sun cream and get settled with a book. Bliss!

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The key thing to remember, is that the trip is fun so any workouts we do should be fun as well. There’s plenty of time throughout the rest of the year for really serious training, so it’s nice to be a bit more relaxed about workouts. One morning Steve and I did some yoga poses in the playground; another time we laughed at the number of playground rules we seemed to be flaunting! The playground is around a mile from my parents’ house, so we jog there and back, sometimes taking the scenic route home just to extend the time we’re out. It also gives us a chance to run together, something we never do since our paces are so different.

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Another habit we developed this year was going for a walk later in the day. We’ve both been wearing activity trackers, and were determined to meet our step goal every day – fairly straightforward on days we ran or were out and about, not so easy on lazy pool days! Sometimes we used this as an opportunity to walk down to the nearby supermarket for some snacks, but other times we simply took a walk around the neighbourhood and had a chat. We even met some local wildlife!

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The main focus of the trip was to relax, read and recharge whilst enjoying the weather, but we did have a few fun days out too…

I had a fabulously relaxing spa pedicure and gel manicure:
IMG_6918We went shopping, mainly at outlets and my favourite, Disney Springs:
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We enjoyed beautiful Florida sunsets (and a couple of spectacular storms!):
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We were spoiled with a fortnight of my mum’s delicious home cooking!
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And we rounded the trip off with a day at Epcot. Dad usually gives us some money towards a theme park day as early birthday presents, and this year I really fancied a day spent enjoying the food and drink in World Showcase, as well as some of the usual Disney delights!
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(Yes, I did buy mouse ears. As far as I’m concerned, it’s compulsory!)

After all that I was sad to come home, but did so feeling much more myself after a really stressful year. Besides, I was starting to miss my cat (who apparently missed me too!).

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Roll on next summer!

Where have you been this summer?
What (if any) training do you do when you travel?