Race Report – Disneyland Paris Half Marathon 2019

I hope you like photos, because this post is full of them!

Day two of our weekend of running at Disneyland Paris this past September meant the half marathon. You might remember that the 2018 event had been my first Run Disney experience, and with theming that appealed much more to me in 2019, I was really looking forward to this race.

As with the 10k, the route was changed slightly from the previous year, but with time spent in both parks as well as the same out-and-back section outside of Disney to complete the distance.

And the theme? Couples (in all their forms). I had an idea that I wanted to dress as Belle again, but this time in her “provincial” blue dress, so this made things really easy for Steve who was able to wear his Beast T-shirt from last year again. I even did my hair like hers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you take on one of the challenges (31k or 36k) you have the same race bib (and hence the same number and corral) for every event you are in. This meant we were once more in corral A and my sister further back behind us. This race has the biggest numbers so the expo seemed much busier beforehand, but since the weather was mild (I didn’t need a foil blanket or extra layer) we just headed outside after dropping our bag off and used the portable toilets by the starting corrals as this was going to be much faster than standing in a queue for the ones inside. After this Steve and I got ourselves positioned in our corral ready for the off.

Soon enough, it was time for our wave to start, so I said goodbye to Steve and got ready to go (we were running separately again as he prefers to treat this as a race whereas I prefer to “get my money’s worth” out of the experience!).

Of course, once again I was running in kilometres and the markers in Disney are as exciting as anything else!

The first couple of photo ops were just that – photo ops rather than character stops. First with Hercules and Meg in one of the backstage areas, and then a Lion King display that looked pretty cool in the morning light.

After that, we were into the main park but it was some time before we hit Main Street for the out-and-back run as there were character stops and photo ops before then! Like the day before, I was keeping my sister posted with the characters and who they were switching with so she knew if she wanted to stop or not. Her strategy was to stop at every 3rd, unless it was characters she REALLY wanted to see, so that she could stay ahead of the sweepers.

Pocahontas & John Smith

 

Phantom Manor couple

And then it was time:

Official photo

Clarabelle & Horace

Official photo

From there, a host of further character stops, with all the characters out as couples, in line with the theme.

Aladdin & Jasmine

Tarzan & Jane

Rapunzel & Flynn Rider

Phoebus & Esmeralda

Jack Sparrow (making his way towards Angelica)

Belle & the Beast

Official photo

Buzz & Jessie

It was after this final stop with the Toy Story characters that I realised I was now behind the infamous “balloon ladies” who walk at the back of the pack at a steady pace, just within the sweep time. I wasn’t worried though as I knew I was about to run 10k outside the parks and would soon overtake them (and my sister who had been with me at Belle/Beast but had passed me while I was getting that Toy Story photo). It was such an ego boost to be passing so many people that even at a fairly easy pace I felt like I was flying – and got *that* photo:

Once outside of the parks, it’s a case of running steadily. The route leads away from Disney into a nearby village where we run around a reservoir then retrace our steps back onto Disney property. It’s a great opportunity to appreciate all the other costumes people are wearing and there are lots of what the French call “animations” – musicians, dancers, DJs, etc to keep things interesting.

Then on our way back we cross a bridge where we can see the main vehicle entrance to Disneyland.

Returning to Disney property, the route hits some of the resort areas, starting with a quick pass of the hotel we had been staying at (and where Steve was eating his second breakfast, having collected our one drop bag which he was going to meet me with later, checking us out and taking our luggage to the bagagerie for safekeeping).

Then through the grounds of the hotel we stayed in last time.

Official photo

The route finishes by following the path that leads from these hotels towards the parks, looping the water and passing through the Disney Village before making its way backstage and to the finish line by the side of the Walt Disney Studios.

This time I was greeted by Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.

Before grabbing my medal and snacks:

I got the same snacks as in the 10k, plus these extras

I then grabbed a picture outside of the finish area before making my way back to the expo – a slow business with all the crowds since part of the route was on the way I needed to go, and with Steve finding it hard to get through as well, we agreed to meet at the expo tent.

When I got there I headed on in to get my 31k challenge medal, which funnelled me straight into a photo op.

I wish I’d had my 10k medal for this, but it was with Steve and he hadn’t arrived yet, so my main learning from this is to try and have all my medals handy before getting my challenge picture. But since I was still waiting for Steve to fight his way through the crowds, I grabbed another picture in the expo tent to pass the time and browsed the event merchandise, much of which had by this point been reduced.

When Steve finally made it, we headed really quickly into the main park so I could get some pictures with my medals by the castle before we had to get back to the hotel to change and collect our bags so we could get the Magic Shuttle back to the airport.

And there was just enough time to nip into Le Passage Enchanté d’Aladdin with my 31k challenge medal since it was themed to Aladdin.

I do really enjoy this event. It actually presents quite an interesting challenge as if, like me, you stop for lots of photos it means the first half is very stop/start, but then there’s a steady section of running in the second half. By this time you’ve probably been on your feet for a couple of hours so that can feel a little harder than it would be otherwise. Still, it’s great fun and I have loved both of my experiences of it. Will I be back? You bet!

My Year Of Running 2019

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Report – Disneyland Paris 10k 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Anna, Olaf and Elsa

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

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

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

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

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

Official Photo

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

(Official Photos)

Belle. Always my favourite.

Moana – the soundtrack to our SUP yoga sessions!

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

Merida. The proud Scots!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Stay tuned for a roundup of our half marathon experience…

Friday Finds – 6th December

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.

Happy Friday and welcome to December! I can’t believe the festive season is here already and am looking forward to some time off over Christmas to relax and recharge. But there’s still plenty going on in the world of sport and running, so here are a few things I’ve been reading lately.

You all know by now that I love a bit of running-related science or data so let’s kick things off with a recent column by one of my favourite writers, Alex Hutchinson. He examines the good news that new studies challenge the previous idea that high levels of exercise could contribute to heart damage. I’ll leave you to read the article to get all the details

Next up, some good news for runners concerned about environmental matters and climate change. First, the news that runners at last month’s Conwy half marathon faced disqualification if they dropped litter during the race. Some races are definitely doing more than others to combat waste and litter, so it’s high time others took steps to make a difference.

Also in environmental news, I caught sight of this piece announcing that my favourite marathon (Paris, of course!) has become the first carbon neutral marathon in the world. It’s been a few years since I took part in this event, but I do remember a big push on recycling and being shown the different bins that were being used along the route for plastics/paper/banana peels etc so it’s great to see this announcement. I wonder which other races will follow..

Speaking of marathons, if you’re planning your next 26.2 miles then you might be interested in this next article reporting on how various marathons around the world rank. Whether you’re looking for the best, the fastest, the safest or just to avoid the duds, this might help you out in your decision making. Any of these on your list?

And finally, having experienced a number of cold spells recently (and with more to come, I’m sure!) I was amused by Canadian Running Magazine‘s updated breakdown of the emotional stages of winter running. Which ones resonate with you?

Happy reading!
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Bonjour Encore!

Believe it or not, this post actually brings me up to date with my weekly roundups – the only one still to write is the week we’re on right now! Through circumstance, the first week of the holidays was a “down” week in terms of training (but certainly still a very active week since I was in Paris!). It was a really fun week, but very little training to speak of:

Monday – Disneyland Paris
Tuesday – Paris
Wednesday – travel home
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun open sandwich
Sunday – 8 miles

Yes, you read that right, my week began with a return to my happy place: Disney! This was a new addition to our trip itinerary and it looks set to become a permanent feature after everyone had such a brilliant day. Although some Scottish schools were on holiday, it was far from all areas and English schools weren’t on half term yet. It being a Monday meant locals with annual passes were likely to be at work so in comparison to our visit on Run Weekend the parks were much quieter. This meant I was able to tick loads of attractions off my list, pick up some bits and pieces of shopping I had put off, and see the fireworks (although there was a bit of a technical snag there and for a good 10 minutes I thought they weren’t going to happen. Not going to lie, if I hadn’t been with pupils I would probably have been in tears after I sacrificed the fireworks for sleep on Run Weekend!). It was odd being back there so soon, but I did find the layout of the park felt much more familiar (it is not the same as the Magic Kingdom in Florida) which probably helped me to move quite swiftly through the things I wanted to do whilst still soaking up those magical vibes. Stand by for photos!!

I’ve never actually arrived this way before as I’ve stayed on property and only seen this from a flyover during the half marathon.

The “Ear Rule” was applied!

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch. Yes I did order this. Yes it was tasty.

And for the record, although it was covered up by my trip hoody, I was wearing this top:

In one shop a cast member took one look at me in my Beauty and the Beast-inspired leggings, Briar Rose Gold mouse ears and Arendelle Aqua Loungefly backpack (see below) and said, “so you’re a big Disney fan then?” It took every ounce of control I possessed not to reply with, “duh!” or similar 😂

Not me, but since I do have all these Arendelle Aqua items, it easily could be!

Photo Source: disneyphile.fr

That was probably my favourite day of the whole trip – and the one where there was no rain! Sadly Tuesday was forecast to be the wettest and that is exactly how it panned out, but luckily we had mainly indoor things on our itinerary for the the day.

We started at the Musée d’Orsay, a former railway station which is now an art gallery. I last visited here on my own school trip to Paris (more years ago than I care to count!) and remember enjoying the Impressionist art, so after a restorative cup of tea, that’s exactly where we headed.

From there, I walked the group along the Rive Gauche (left bank of the River Seine) to let them see some of the book/souvenir stalls (bouqinistes) and crossed back to the Rive Droite (right bank) on the Pont des Arts, which until recently was the bridge associated with love locks. Now, the railings have been replaced by perspex panels to prevent people attaching padlocks to them as there were concerns about the weight eventually causing them to fall into the water, potentially causing serious injury since the river frequently has an array of different kinds of boat on it. It’s still a nice pedestrian bridge and a nice spot to view the river and its banks.

This bridge delivers us right to the Louvre and we spent a few minutes getting some photos around the pyramid before heading along Rue de Rivoli to our destination: the Forum des Halles, a huge shopping centre which I can find ok, but I ALWAYS get lost within it’s labyrinthine floors! (Although I can find the Pandora store, so that covers the essentials 😂)

Having sent the pupils on their way, the staff headed to a pavement cafe where we sat under umbrellas, warmed by outdoor heaters, and had some lunch while we watched people scurrying out of the rain. I had hoped for more onion soup but sadly it wasn’t on the menu so I settled for a club sandwich which was really tasty.

Satisfied, we went our separate ways for a bit of shopping. I had a couple of things on my list but took care of those quite quickly so ended up marvelling at some of the creations in the Lego Store.

Around there I bumped into one of my colleagues so we went off for a cup of tea at the cafe beside our meeting point, finishing just in time to meet the rest of the group to head back to the centre for dinner – probably my least favourite selection of the trip as the fish was really bony and not well cooked, the rice wasn’t the best and the veg was cold. At least they had that nice dessert on again!

For our final night, we headed over to the Notre Dame area. Following the fire the actual cathedral is blocked off while it is restored, but we still wanted to have a chance to see it and there are lots of other things to do in the area. Our first port of call was one of my favourite places: Shakespeare & Co bookshop. Not only is it an iconic location, but there is a resident cat called Aggie who is most definitely the boss!

The staff then headed to a nearby cafe for a refreshment and most of the pupils went off to find snacks and souvenirs before heading back to the centre and bed.

Sadly it ended up being quite a late night as we had to solve a problem (not caused by our pupils but affecting them) and with the typically laid-back attitude of the French when it comes to getting things sorted out, this took much longer than it needed to. I can tell you I was not pleased when my alarm went off the next morning.

We weren’t due to be collected from the centre until around noon so had considered heading out on some kind of walk/excursion, but it was clear that the pupils just needed a chance to chill out after several busy days – as did we after our late night! We had to check out of our rooms, but luggage was kept in the baggagerie and there was a fairly nice cafe and seating area, so the couple of hours we had actually passed really quickly. To be honest, it felt like no time at all before we were back at the airport, dropping off the bags and picking up some food to see us until our arrival home.

A highlight of the flight was that this time I was on the left of the plane so saw the daytime view of the Eiffel Tower from the air to complement the night-time view I had when I arrived for Run Weekend. That felt like a nice way to round things off.

Everything went pretty smoothly and by 7:30pm we were back at school and delivering the pupils safely back to their parents. A really nice touch was one parent who turned up with flowers for the staff members to thank them for taking time out of their holiday to take her daughter to Paris. So thoughtful!

My only stop after that was to pick up a Chinese takeaway on my way home since Steve wasn’t going to be in much before me and we didn’t have anything in shopping-wise since I was away. Then I headed for a bath before bed. Wine DEFINITELY needed!

After all that I was EXHAUSTED. I didn’t see much need to run on the Thursday, preferring to get plenty of sleep and tackle some of those real-life errands teachers have in the holidays like getting a dental check-up – quite a comedown from being in Paris!

I did, however, make a point of going to Ashtanga since I wanted to stretch out after all the walking around. I also finally swallowed my pride and asked to be supported for the headstand. Perhaps getting used to being in the posture again, with some help, will be useful in getting me back to doing them solo again. It can’t hurt!

Then on Friday I ended up having another rest day. My errand for the day was my annual flu jab and my arm always hurts a little after so I didn’t bother asking Steve for a session. Instead I made some effort to unpack (properly this time!) and get myself organised. This included opening up this year’s edition of “Nope” magazine from the London Marathon. This year it may as well say “hard cheese” given the image they selected! 😂

By Saturday I was ready to get back to it. Steve was RD at parkrun so he drove down earlier with a warm top etc for me and I ran down. This was the day that Eliud Kipchoge completed his amazing sub-2 hour marathon and in my determination not to miss a minute of it, I actually ran there whilst still streaming the live feed (parkrun in Scotland is at 9:30am, I leave by about 9am latest to run down and he was due to finish at 9:15am so I knew I would probably be arriving, or just about arriving, when he finished). You should have seen me trying to look at my phone screen every time I had to pause to cross a road! By some miracle I reached parkrun without tripping, falling or otherwise making a fool of myself, so there’s that.

I had a fairly good run considering I hadn’t run in over a week. A little slower than I would have liked, but it was actually quite windy which definitely made a difference. I was just happy to be there and enjoyed my run.

I helped to sort the tokens while I waited for Steve, then donned my extra layers while the run was finishing up (I was back in my shorts again after that one super-cold day of capris right at the end of term). Steve being RD meant we headed to the cafe for a bacon roll while he processed the results.

Had to take my own picture since Steve was busy 😂

Then it was back to the usual Saturday glamour of food shopping. Oh take me back to Paris!

I spent the afternoon getting myself up to date with Strictly Come Dancing (to be honest, with two trips to Paris I had pretty much been a bit behind from week 1, but had somehow managed to avoid any spoilers. First world problems lol!). And for those wondering, the kitties definitely missed me while I was away, so much so that Smokey has suddenly become a lap cat – this wasn’t part of his repertoire before I left!

For my Sunday run I had considered 10 miles but ultimately decided that this should naturally become a cutback week since I hadn’t run much, and 8 miles would therefore be ideal. I headed out to the path through the woodland park which I like and just kept the pace easy. It felt good to stretch things out with a run after lots of walking. And yes, still in shorts.

So there you have it. Not much running or training but a super-fun week nonetheless. I mean I was in both Paris AND Disney – how could it be anything other than fantastique!

What was the best school trip you ever went on?
Are you in your winter running kit yet?

Week In Review – End Of Term Already And Feeling Jetset!

With the slightly longer summer holidays this year to adjust the calendar for the school year, the first term became quite a short one at just 7 weeks. Perfect for those counting down to the holidays, but quite quick in terms of getting back in to the routine. That said, in one of the most jetset moments of my entire life, just two weeks after my Disneyland Paris trip, I was going to be immediately getting back on the plane to Paris…this time with 37 pupils and 4 colleagues in tow! I’ll confess I didn’t entirely unpack since many of the bits and pieces I needed for the first trip would still be needed for the school trip (plus any number of additional things to make sure the needs of such a big group, on a packed schedule, could be taken care of easily), resulting in my suitcase doubling as a cat bed In between! But even with the excitement of a return to Paris ahead, I did manage to fit in plenty of training:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – travel to Paris
Sunday – Paris!

As you can see, much of the week was my usual routine. A new block of Hatha yoga started so that returned me to my habit of some quiet headspace on a Monday evening and was most welcome.

On Tuesday I got out for my usual pre-work run of 4 miles at an easy pace. Nothing unusual here but I did notice the air feeling a bit cooler and wondered how much longer I would get away with shorts for.

No workout with Steve that evening as he had another event to go to so I took the chance to get on top of a few things at work then had a relaxing evening at home. The trip is always really busy so being sure to get some extra rest ahead of time is a good idea.

With Wednesday still scheduled as a rest day, I took the chance to sort out my packing. Or at least, have a first go at it. I always take much more when I’m travelling with pupils (and in a situation where looking reasonably well groomed is expected, as opposed to a largely running-based weekend where I can get away with being a bit more sloppy!) so I like to pack everything a few days beforehand then go back through it the night before we leave to jettison a few bits and pieces I really won’t need. I’ma list maker, but also a “just in case” packer so for me it’s worth doing.

I actually didn’t sleep too well on the Wednesday night. I’m taking part in a programme through work this year which involves some training/coaching session and filmed (yes, FILMED!) lessons where I use some of the new ideas I’ve been trying as a result of that training. The Thursday was the first of my filmed lessons and I didn’t think I was particularly on edge about it – being observed doesn’t tend to worry me too much – but I woke up far too early with the lesson running through my head. I suspect it was because I was taking a risk and trying something completely new so I had no idea how it was going to play out and it was useful to think things through once again to be sure I had considered everything.

To clear my head a bit I still went for my run – definitely needed on this occasion – and for the first time this autumn it was far too cold for shorts at just 3C! In hindsight, had I worn gloves I would probably have been fine in my shorts, but it just hadn’t crossed my mind to look out any gloves yet and my hands were really cold. The condensation on my car windscreen looked suspiciously solid, and this was confirmed when Steve had to scrape ice from his car before going to work!

Cold front aside, it was a good run and the last I would get for at least a week, so I made sure to enjoy it.

Since it was Thursday I had Ashtanga that night. I was really looking forward to it after the extra early start and filmed lesson (which went really well – so proud of my pupils) as I had expected to totally crash afterwards, but I was still on the go and ready to use the yoga session to help me relax and settle into the evening. That said, I did feel tired so my headstand remained pretty poor. I’ll be turning my attention to this post-trip again.

Once again it was a dash from yoga to get my nails done ready for the trip – priorities! I couldn’t possibly got to Paris without a fresh gel manicure!

Friday was the last day of term and a really busy day. I had my own classes, a cover class and the feedback/coaching session from my filmed lesson which was a really positive experience. At the end of the day all of the staff involved in the trip got together to make sure we had all the admin sorted out and had all the things we needed before leaving school, so I was a bit later (for a Friday) in getting away, but still had time to head down to the studio for a workout. This one was the TRX and a resistance band.

I had enough to time to then take a second look at my packing and re-think some of it before we went out for some food. I know we do this every Friday but it feels so good at the start of a holiday!

For the trip this year we had actually been booked onto much better flights – Edinburgh rather than Glasgow – which meant we didn’t have a really early start. I had to be at school around the time I would normally get there in the morning and once we had all the pupils on board the coach to take us to the airport, we were off!

I had realised that with our flight being at lunchtime, the first meal that would form part of the trip itinerary would be our dinner at night. That seemed so far away so I made the obvious decision – a full cooked breakfast at the airport to see me through (and some emergency snacks in my bag!). It didn’t take much arm twisting for my colleagues to also see the sense in the full breakfast, and with plenty of time to spare before our flight, we got settled and ordered. There were actually 2 breakfast options: the small breakfast (who were they kidding!) or the full one with more items and some toast – obviously I ordered this one!

I also made a point of popping to the duty free shop to get some salted caramel M&Ms. As it turned out it was a far better offer to buy two bags than just one. One of my colleagues was also buying some and there was a comedy moment when we both picked up two bags and another colleague confessed that she had assumed we were going to get a bag each and split the deal. Oh how we laughed! 😂

Before too long it was time to board.

The flight itself was fine. I read a bit of my book and had a little doze, then before I knew it I was back in the familiar territory of Charles de Gaulle airport. We collected our bags, cleared passport control and found the coach for our transfer to the Paris centre. Then from the second we arrived it was pretty full-on. I barely had time to put my case down in my room and quickly transfer some essentials to a smaller bag, than it was back down for dinner, which was edible but nothing special.

Our evening excursion was to the Arc de Triomphe and part of my role on the trip is to navigate us around Paris – I know, it surprises me too, but if there’s one thing I can do it’s find my way around the Paris streets and Métro system so on this occasion, I’m your girl!

Although I’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times in the last year or so, I actually haven’t been in Paris itself since the last school trip in 2017 so it was nice to be straight up on a high platform to see the city below me and the Eiffel Tower in all her nighttime glory. The pupils who had never visited Paris before were so excited to see it!

Of course we hit the gift shop and spent a few minutes on the Champs Élysées so that we could get a drink/snack, but then it was time to head back to the centre to get a bit of sleep before a busy Sunday.

Sunday actually began with rain, but we had been expecting that and there were actually no complaints.

The worst of the weather was while we were waiting to get on the Eiffel Tower and by the time we were up at the top, the rain had cleared and we had fantastic views. Having missed out on this part last year as I drew the short straw and waited with a pupil, I had been really looking forward to getting back up there.

From there, we had a boat trip on the River Seine. I’ve done this one many times so initially sat inside to eat my packed lunch but made sure to go up on top in time to see Notre Dame. So sad to see the beautiful cathedral so damaged, but I’m glad efforts are being made to restore her. I’ll never forget watching the news unfold earlier this year as the fire took hold and those spires looked like they might fall.

Next was a walk via the Trocadéro to see the Tower from a raised platform.

Then back on the Métro to head up to Montmartre and the Sacré Cœur.

I had a lovely bowl of onion soup up there as well as picking up some souvenirs. Top tip – the best prices for Paris souvenirs tend to be up there so don’t be fooled into picking things up elsewhere unless you really need to.

We were back at the centre for dinner, which was passable but not the most inspiring (although I did enjoy the dessert!).

Then we were off out again, this time to walk (under my navigation!) to the Monparnasse Tower.

I love this one as it’s the highest point from which you can see the Eiffel Tower. Let’s face it, if you’re actually ON the Eiffel Tower than you can’t SEE the Eiffel Tower. When people ask me for Paris recommendations, this is always the one. Stunning views!

And this time I found this incredible model of Paris. The colours are so vibrant and you can pick out all the key landmarks. Amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could stay up there for hours, but after a quick poke about the gift shop it was time to gather everyone up to return to the centre. It had already been a couple of packed days with much more to come…

When do you know it’s time to put the shorts away for the year?
Have you visited Paris before? Any highlights?

Week In Review – Disney Bound!

Ohboyohboyohboy!!! What with me being so behind on my posts, I probably came across as uncharacteristically quiet about my plans, but after last year’s Run Disney adventure it was quite clear that “one and done” wasn’t going to be in our vocabulary and way back in late 2018 we made our booking for the 2019 Magic Run Weekend at Disneyland Paris. The difference is that with better knowledge of the logistics, we were able to enter both the 10k and half marathon. Also, my sister joined us this time. Separate posts are in the works for both races, but there was more to the weekend than that so I’ll cover those aspects in my roundup of that particular week.

Much of the week, of course, was business as usual as there was the small matter of work to go to, but a Disney trip to look forward to really does put a spring in the step!

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles + PT session with Steve
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 3.8 miles + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – travel to Disneyland Paris
Saturday – Disneyland Paris 10k
Sunday – Disneyland Paris half marathon

There was no Hatha yoga on Monday since my teacher was away on holiday so I took the time to do a little home practice then relax. My mission for the week was to get to bed sharp each night as I knew the weekend would be super busy and tiring.

On Tuesday I ran my usual 4 mile route and kept the pace nice and easy. No real need to run fast, more an opportunity to keep my legs ticking over before the weekend. I mean, realistically my distances would be pretty similar to an average weekend, it was just going to take me much longer as I fully intended to stop for lots of character photos!

Then that evening there was time for one last workout down in Steve’s studio. This time it was a combination of TRX, press ups and weights for my arm workout.

Wednesday was a rest day and the evening I had set aside to pack (although to be honest, I had been as good as packed since the weekend so it was more finalising my packing – and ensuring there were no cats in my suitcase 😹) Note: this case was to do BOTH of us (as in me and Steve, not me and the cat ha!) and was pretty empty on the way to Paris!

On Thursday I still went for a run but opted for a loop I like which is under 4 miles. This one was really more about consistency and movement than any actual preparation for the weekend. It was a chance to run things through in my head and be sure I had everything organised as I didn’t really have any further opportunity to go through my suitcase again.

I made it to my Ashtanga class in the evening. Still really frustrated with my headstand and I know I keep writing about that but it is bothering me now that I no longer seem able to do something that I was doing before. I am still certain that the problem is a mental block rather than a physical issue, I just can’t figure out how to resolve it. Happy to take suggestions!

After yoga I whizzed off to get my nails done ready for the weekend. I was so pleased that my colour choice would suit BOTH of my running costumes for the weekend 🙂

Friday was a work day but it was one of those days that I just wanted to get through so I could be on my way. Since nobody else lives near me I drove myself in with my hand luggage and the plan was to leave my car in the work car park and pick it up on our return on Sunday – basically work became an airport car park for the occasion! Steve picked me up with our suitcase at the end of the day and we drove straight to the airport, parked in our pre-booked car park and headed on through security.

Our flight was scheduled for 6:30pm so we made sure to get some dinner at the airport while we were waiting. I chose this pizza which actually had broccoli on it! Not as good as the pizza Steve makes, but good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flight was actually slightly delayed but we had a taxi booked to take us up to Disney so it wasn’t too bad (last year we had a shared taxi booked so it caused a major headache, this one was much easier although we were charged an additional fee for being after 10pm – d’oh!).

A highlight of the flight was seeing the Eiffel Tower all lit up among the lights of Paris – one of my favourite sights to see. Other than that it was fairly uneventful and we were through passport control and in our taxi family swiftly. I think it only took about half an hour to get to our hotel (we stayed in the Santa Fe this time) and I think I spent most of it communicating with my sister. She had travelled earlier in the day, checked us in to the hotel and collected all our race packs at the expo, meaning all we had to do was find our room and head to bed ready for an early start the following day.

This photo was my response to my mum asking if we had found my sister ok 😂

The Santa Fe is one of the budget hotels and themed to the Cars movies. Although a budget hotel it had everything we were going to need (it’s not like we were going to be in the room other than to sleep!) and was perfectly comfortable. I only took a few photos as my sister had already put stuff around the room, but you get the idea.

Saturday was an early start as the race began at 7am and Steve and I had scored bibs for corral A (my sister was further back). Breakfast (that is to say first breakfast since runners get 2 breakfasts on race day!) started at 5am so we were up and changed into our running costumes ready to head over there for the back of 5. So long as you show your race bib, runners hand over their breakfast vouchers and are given a wrist band to allow them a second breakfast post-race. For some reason I thought it would just be continental breakfast options out for the early breakfast, but the cooked options were out too. I stuck to pastries and things for my first one though.

After breakfast we stopped briefly by our room again since it was on the way to the start, then I got my first sight of the expo/race HQ. Since Steve would be the fastest, we put anything we needed into his kit bag and he dropped it off. We also got a couple of photos before heading over to the start line.

We all entered the 31k challenge – 10k + half marathon (21k) with an extra medal and T-shirt for the challenge.

I made Steve’s Olaf costume myself FROM SCRATCH. I’ve never been more proud!!!!

Anna, Olaf and Elsa ready to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The race itself was AMAZING. I will definitely write a separate post otherwise this one will be an epic, but suffice it to say I ran my slowest 10k of all time and enjoyed every single second.

I was standing at the castle and they were playing a “big” song that I really like so I was trying so hard not to cry here!

Post-race we made our way back to the expo. I had made sure I had money with me as I (obviously) wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS and making my purchases at this point saved a bit of time in our day. My sister had collected the pins I pre-ordered when she picked up our race packs, but I wanted to grab a couple of race souvenirs and had my eye on a couple of general souvenirs which I figured I could buy then and return to the room so I wouldn’t have to cart them about with me.

We also had to have our second breakfast back at the hotel, which this time I made into three courses – cured meats to start, bacon and scrambled eggs for the main (somehow I neglected to photograph that) and pastries again for dessert. I’ve said it before, but I take hotel breakfasts VERY seriously!

The rest of the day was all about the theme parks. We started in the Walt Disney Studios to do a couple of things then made our way over to the main park. We wore our 10k T-shirts and race medals so we could get some cool pictures. It was a warm day – I would have been fine in shorts! – so the parks were really busy but we still managed to do a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had originally planned to stay for the fireworks but we reached a point were we realised we weren’t going to get on any other rides so were just hanging around for a couple of hours for the fireworks. Much as I wanted to see them, we were all tired so decided the sensible thing to do would be to head back to the hotel and get a decent sleep before another early start and a longer race the following morning. It was a shame not to see the fireworks, but I’m actually glad we made this decision..

Our routine on Sunday was similar – get dressed, have first breakfast, head over to the start and put our things in Steve’s kit bag. The only thing to deal with was that we hadn’t been able to secure a late check out so Steve was going to return and put our luggage in the baggagerie and have his second breakfast (I sacrificed second breakfast to get photos in the main park after the race) then come back to meet us. This worked pretty well although it would have been much easier if a late check out had been available. We did ask several times but they just couldn’t do it for us.

Provincial Belle and the Beast

Again, a separate post will follow on the race. I think I smiled round the whole thing and had the best time – I even managed to go slower than last year despite being in a much better place fitness-wise, so you can tell I stopped lots!

It was a really quick run into the main park for some photos afterwards, but there was no way I was missing these shots with my haul of Disney bling!

Once we were all done, we got ourselves organised in the hotel toilets then got on the Magic Shuttle back to the airport. A whistlestop visit once again, but such good fun. I can’t wait to do it again!

What makes a race special for you?
Have you/would you run in a Disney event or other race where costumes are encouraged?

Week In Review – Fun, Sun and Holidays Done!

The second week of my spring break gave me a chance to get a bit more consistent training in as part of my inverse taper, as well have a bit more fun to set me up for the long term ahead. My training ended up as follows:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 10k + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday 17 miles

It was great to be off on Marathon Monday as it meant I was able to watch online coverage of the Boston marathon in the afternoon. If you haven’t caught it already, I suggest taking a look at the finish of the men’s race – so exciting! The timing worked out perfectly as not long after the elite races finished it was time for me to head out to my yoga class. It’s a term time class, but the new school term already started in the area where I live (they came off on holiday a week ahead of the school where I work, in a neighbouring area). I already felt pretty relaxed, but it was still good to get back on the mat and start a new block of classes.

Before heading out to the class my sister had sent me a message telling me about the fire at Notre Dame in Paris (I hadn’t seen any news since I had marathon coverage on) and when I arrived home I was shocked to see the extent of the fire and the impact on the cathedral’s infrastructure. Regular readers know that Paris is my favourite city and a very special place for me, so anything that affects Paris tends to touch my heart. I ended up watching rolling coverage of the terrible blaze for the rest of the evening as there seemed to be some doubts about whether or not the fire could be contained and the building saved, so as soon as they announced that it was under control I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off to bed.

With Paris still on my mind, I pulled one of my Paris marathon tops out of the wardrobe to wear for my run on Tuesday morning. It was a very pleasant 4 mile run on a staple route, but what really struck me was how good my legs felt after my 16 mile run on Sunday. I had commented to Steve that my legs had felt fine afterwards and through the Monday, so a run was a real test of how well they had recovered. I’ve no idea why this is – maybe the additional running that is now part of my average week has conditioned them a bit better – but even with the time I had off, my legs are recovering well from my longer runs. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

On Tuesday evening I went to the concert hall with my parents and sister as she had got us tickets for the production of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which was on. I know it’s a book I’ve read, however there is a degree of ambiguity around some of the action (and it’s kinda creepy in places – I believe it was an inspiration for The Woman in Black) and I couldn’t remember it very well as it’s been so long since I read it. It was a good production, but it does irritate me when the ending is a little too open to interpretation.

I took Wednesday as a rest day and spent the morning relaxing at home. I think I might even have watched a film! In the afternoon Steve and I headed into town since we had another code for a free coffee in Caffè Nero and I had a few errands to run. The sun was out so I walked into town and Steve joined me a little later for coffee. It’s nice to do things like that when I’m on holiday.

Thursday morning was a bit cooler again, perfect for a run. I decided on another 10k since I had the luxury of time. Nothing special, just a fairly standard run and more time on my feet to keep things consistent. That’s the most important thing right now.

I popped out again in the afternoon as I had a couple of errands that needed me to have the car (bags of cat litter are a bit hefty to carry home!) and I came back to find the kittens like this:

I then had my Ashtanga class in the early evening. Despite having all the time in the world, I was nearly late thanks to some heavy traffic but I made it in time to get set up right before class started. Yet again, I felt I was strong in Wheel but it wasn’t a good Headstand week for me (it happens!) and I only held it for a couple of breaths before I felt I was losing my balance. No big deal, I know I can keep improving it with consistent practice.

Friday was my most exciting day of the week. It began in a fairly nondescript fashion with a workout down at Steve’s studio. We’re mainly working on arms and core right now so he has been giving me lots of exercises using the TRX, hand weights and my own body weight. He varies things each week so I never know quite what I’m going to get.

After that I had a bit of time to myself, then around 3:30pm we were in the car and en route to Glasgow to see TAKE THAT!!! We got the tickets back in about September so I had been really looking forward to another opportunity to see my favourite band.

We learned the hard way that parking out at the SSE Hydro is not a good idea as it takes ages to get out of there afterwards, so now we park closer to town and walk in – it probably doesn’t take any longer than sitting in the queue to leave the venue car park and at least we are moving. This time we had a booking for a meal in town so parked in one of the city centre car parks. I hadn’t been to the restaurant we were booked at before, but the menu looked ideal for what we wanted that night and we had found a deal to save a little off the bill.

Loads of really American-style dishes on the menu – mainly burgers and ribs and things like that – so I opted for a classic burger and it was really delicious.

Appetites satisfied, we walked along the River Clyde out towards the Hydro as I was keen to get there in time for the support act: blast from the past Ricky Astley (yes, I am old enough to remember him from back in the day!). It’s only about a half hour walk (if that) and on arrival I headed straight for the merchandise stand to get my tour T-shirt and programme before finding our seats in the auditorium.

Rick Astley is, of course, best known for the song which gave rise to this meme:

And of course he saved it for last, at which point everyone in the place leapt to their feet to sing and dance along. It was brilliant!

Take That were, as ever, amazing. Their shows are always so theatrical and this was no exception.

They even had ACTUAL LULU for Relight My Fire!

I loved it!

Post-show we joined the throngs walking back into town, headed to the car and drove home. A late night but totally worth it. It was only when I woke up the following morning that I realised that’s 2 years in a row I’ve seen Gary Barlow on the exact same date: last year to was his solo tour which visited Perth and this year as part of Take That. I’m perfectly happy to set aside the same date next year for another evening with Captain Barlow 😂

Needless to say, I was not feeling at my freshest on Saturday morning but I knew a run would soon wake me up. I opted for another parkrun sandwich and was delighted to find that the forecast of good weather for the Easter weekend was true – I even got my shorts out for the first time this year! To put that in context, on Tuesday evening it was pretty cold as we were returning to the car after the play and on my Thursday run I wore leggings and a lightweight long-sleeved top to beat the chill, so this warm weather was a big increase in temperature for us.

Despite my tired body and the warmer conditions, I actually ran fairly well and ended up less than 20 seconds slower than last week. I expected to be much slower than that! As an added bonus, one of the local churches has a running group which is at parkrun most weeks and it being Easter, they had a little post-run treat for all the runners.

I was a little concerned about it melting on the way home, but also couldn’t face eating chocolate and then running a couple of miles, so stuck it in my Spibelt (I looked like I had a hernia haha!) and hoped for the best. I can confirm that when I ate it later in the afternoon it was perfectly fine, having been out in the fridge as soon as I got home.

After our usual Saturday routine of breakfast with Steve’s brother and getting the food shopping, I decided the weather was too good to waste sitting inside (who knows when we’ll get this again – it is Scotland after all!) so slapped the sun cream on and spent the afternoon reading and dozing in the garden. It was lovely.

I also looked at the parkrun photos from the morning and discovered I had been upstaged by a gorilla. Not something you see every day!

Photo: Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun Facebook page

Sunday was my last chance for an “inverse taper” run before the marathon next weekend and I had originally planned to run 18 miles, however the weather was still warm and this led to me making a mistake. I really should have set my alarm a bit earlier to be out quite sharp while it was still cool, but I’m just not in the habit of that right now and I ended up going out a bit too late. I also had this kit difficulty to contend with:

The temperature wasn’t too bad when I set off, but by the time I was coming to the later miles it was getting pretty warm and that was making the run harder than it needed to be. Conscious of the need for good recovery, I cut it short by a mile. Hopefully next Sunday is a bit cooler!

And after 17 miles, the rest of the day was pretty much devoted to eating all the food! We did go out to claim our free coffee from Fitness Rewards, but with the sun still shining it seemed like the perfect week for the first Frappuccino of the summer. Delicious!

The week ahead will mean a return to work, but I will have to be very conscious of getting plenty of rest to make sure I’m ready to run on Sunday. I fully expect it to be hard work and reckon I’ll be doing well if my time is in the 4:30s (I won’t be troubling my 4:05 of last year any time soon!!) but that’s ok, as sometimes it’s about completing rather than competing. This is one of those times.

How have you made the most of the weather this week?
What was the last concert you went to?

7 Day Journaling Challenge – Day 3

I have decided to take part in a 7 day journaling challenge as a way of writing in a different format to normal. My aim is to write for about 10 minutes in response to the prompt, tidy up any typos then post my entry here. Feel free to join in…

As my eyelids bat open I can already feel that things are going to be perfect. It’s early, yet I wake naturally having rested well in this comfortable bed with its soft pillows and beautiful duvet. Flinging open the shutters, I’m greeted with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower at the end of the boulevard – just like in the movies!

I pull on my favourite running shorts and a top, lace up my trainers and head out for an early morning run along the banks of the River Seine. The city is beginning to stir and the only people around are the municipal workers who hose the streets down every morning so everything is clean and fresh for the day ahead. I greet other runners with “bonjour” until I begin to feel like provincial Belle from Beauty and the Beast!

Post-run, a lovely hot shower with one of those rainfall heads, then I dress, gather the things I need and head for the station, picking up fresh, warm pain au chocolat and that lovely strong French coffee along the way. 

After mere minutes in a TGV carriage I arrive at Marne-la-Vallée, home of Disneyland Paris. The sun is out, there’s not a cloud in the sky and yet it’s still quiet. Plenty of people to give atmosphere, but not so crowded that I have to sharpen my elbows.

Passing effortlessly through the entrance turnstiles, I walk forward to be greeted by my favourite view – a princess castle, an array of characters to meet, balloon sellers and groups of happy, smiling people. There is music playing and the smells of food drifting from vendors along Main Street.

My first port of call is to buy a pair of Minnie Mouse ears – it’s my rule to buy a new pair for each visit and my collection is growing. After that, it’s time to explore, chatting easily with cast members as my French is flawless today – every verb conjugated to perfection and every tense correct.

Thanks to the lack of crowds, I can walk onto my favourite rides with next to no wait and I easily get fastpasses to take me straight on to those big ticket rides. Every ride photo shows my face full of joy as the adrenaline is pumped around my body and I’m so happy I could actually cry.

I snack on pastries and enjoy a Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream. Dinner is a character dining experience where all my favourite characters come to my table and pose for photographs. The food is delicious and is accompanied by a nice glass of wine – it is France after all!

Souvenirs purchased, rides completed and appetite satisfied, I find the perfect spot close to the castle to watch the fireworks. From where I’m standing, nobody can get in front of me to spoil my view by hoisting their child onto their shoulders (it was the same earlier in the day when I found the ideal spot to watch the parade) and I gasp as the fireworks fill the sky, choreographed to music which blends both French and English lyrics, and accompanied by the most wonderful projections onto the castle. It’s like a movie screen and every inch is perfect.

When the last fizz, crack and pop of the fireworks has faded away, it’s time to turn my back on the castle and make my way towards the exit. But I don’t have too far to go as this night will be spent in a sumptuous room in the Disneyland Hotel, right by the entrance to the main park. The room will be decorated in exquisite taste, but with a Disney twist and as I settle into my comfortable bed, feet weary in a way that only a satisfying day in a theme park can create, I smile to myself, remembering the wonderful memories I have created and looking forward to the wake-up call I will receive from The Big Cheese the following morning before another magical day in the happiest place on earth.

What would your perfect day be?

My Year Of Running 2018 (Link Up)

For the last couple of years I’ve linked up with Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC to recap my year in running (2016 and 2017). To be honest, it’s one of my favourite posts as I get to think back over all my awesome adventures from the year just gone by. Here’s how 2018 looked…

Best race experience
Hands down the Disneyland Paris half marathon. I know I’ve gone on about it A LOT, but it was probably the best race experience of my life. No pressure to run a certain time, it was all about celebrating my Big Birthday by combining all my favourite things – running, Disney and Paris.

Best run
For this one I’m going to choose the Stirling marathon. My training was really consistent and I came super close (as in, less than a minute) to the PB I set back in 2014. This is probably the best I’ve paced a full marathon and it really gave me a lot of confidence in what I could do.

Best new piece of running gear
I’ve bought several pairs of amazing, funky leggings this year and you would be forgiven for thinking I would choose one of those…but I’m not! The best thing I bought all year was this reflective “vest” which means I’m visible on my runs through the winter darkness but can wear whatever top I want, rather than being tied to the same old “high viz” one all the time.

Best running advice you’ve received this year
To switch from running after work to running before work. I’ve always been an evening runner, but was feeling increasingly pressed for time so began to consider early morning runs instead. With Steve’s encouragement, I took the plunge and have to say it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for my running as it fits so much more easily into my day. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed getting up early, but so far it’s been worth it for the extra time it creates in the evening.

Most inspirational runner
This year I’m going to choose my friend Tina Muir, founder of Running for Real. The Superstars community she has created on Facebook is so inspiring and uplifting. I’ve made new friends there and love some of the random discussions we have. Tina herself has been a fantastic role model in her decision to stop running in order to overcome amenhorrea and become pregnant. She will shortly be taking part in the WDW half marathon as her comeback race and I’m so excited for her to have this experience (and, admittedly, a little jealous as I’d love to be there too!). In case you missed it, Tina interviewed me earlier this year.

Favourite picture from a run or race this year
Duh! Obviously a Disney one! The hardest part was narrowing it down…

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
Can you guess? Why DLP, of course! I would repeat that experience any time. Good thing it wasn’t a one-off event!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be?
Freakin’ awesome! 2018 was the self-styled Year of Me!!!. I set myself some fun goals, and celebrated a milestone birthday with an amazing racecation. There was also a marathon, lots of parkrunning (including in Florida) and the chance to connect with lots of amazing people both online and IRL. Here’s to an equally awesome 2019…!

Want to join in? I’d love to read about your year in running.