Disneyland Paris half marathon!

On Friday, straight after work I drove to the train station and caught the train to Luton airport (note to self- next time just get the Eurostar both ways- we could not get a direct train to the Disney station late enough for me to make it, but getting out from the centre of Paris would have been much easier than the bundle for the bus up to the airport/ security/ delays/ the terminal being super crowded/ the 30 minutes it took for us to get through immigration….). Andy had bought some salads for us to have as dinner, and we bought a hot drink in the terminal. As the plane arrived too late for the trains, we had booked a transfer that took us right to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel L-Elysee, which was one metro stop (or a free busy ride) from the Disney area, and right by a large shopping centre with restaurants and a supermarket. It’s a great location as it is close by, but nowhere near the cost of the Disney hotels.

On Saturday we headed to the expo to collect our numbers and t-shirts.

This was very well organised. They also had some merchandise for sale (although none of the cool Disney trainers that they get in the USA), so I bought myself a t-shirt, headband and we each bought a mug. We had been sent an email saying that Paula Radcliffe was doing a talk at 12.00 in English (and at 4pm in French), but there was a yoga class going on at the centre part of it. We wandered around a bit, but could not even find a schedule, and there was no-where we could see where it might be. In the end we left it and headed to the parks. We spent the rest of the day in the parks- we had bought a ticket for both. A lot of the rides were closed which was disappointing, but we still had a good day. The weather was gorgeous- blue skies and nice and warm. We kept seeing people wearing their Ratatouille 5K t-shirts (and medals) from the Saturday morning race, as well as loads of the USA Disney race t-shirts- the Enchanted 10K was my favourite- a lovely green colour. Before heading back to the hotel we bought our metro tickets for the morning (the hotel bus wasn’t running at 5am!) and then got our kit ready.

Waiting in the start area

Sunday morning came around too soon! We had to get up at 5am (4am UK time) as the metro was not frequent at that time, and we had to be in the pen at 6.30, and it was a bit of a walk from the metro, plus you had to go through security. We got the metro at 5.55am along with many other bleary-eyed runners! I only had on my vest, and I was freezing! I had packed my Minnie Mouse tutu, but in the end left it at the hotel as I decided it would probably annoy me- I’ve only worn it for a parkrun before and I don’t think it was that good. I kept my ears on to show a bit of Disney spirit! We ate our clif bars in the metro station before going through security as it was a teeny bit warmer in there. Then we joined the starter pen. Luckily we were in pen B (there were 4) because the race started late, and each pen took an age to get through the start as they were only letting a few people through at a time, then stopping everyone and having another count down. We crossed the line at 7.25am, but I heard people talking later saying that the D pen didn’t get through until gone 8am. We thought our checkout time was 11am so that would have been cutting things very fine indeed.

A bit lighter as we were about to set off.

The start pen was a bit strange- there was a big screen and two people leaping about on the stage, but the tannoy system was no good and we could not hear them at all. At one point they showed Paula having some selfies with other runners, and it became apparent that she was actually running it! For each set of runners, different characters appeared on screen (we had the genie) and counted down. Then fireworks were set off from the little gantry that you ran under.

The start gantry

Then finally, we were off. We had a plan of taking things steady, running together and aiming for around 2.10-2.15. I wanted to enjoy it and not worry about time, but we wanted to be back at the hotel for a shower. The first part was through both parks, and every kilometre there was a queue of people waiting to have their photos taken with various characters. I felt it was too early to stop!

When we were waiting in the pen, I could not decide if I needed the toilet or not- normally before races I know it’s psychological and I ignore it because my fear of portaloos is very great, but running through the parks we passed a few of the proper toilets, so we decided to stop after a few km as beyond the parks there would only be portaloos.

Main street! (I was running backwards here so Andy could take the photo without us stopping)

After that we just enjoyed running through the parks- as a Disney fan running down the Main Street and later through the castle were particular highlights, and although there were no members of the public in the parks, all of the staff from the rides and shops were out cheering brilliantly.

Gorgeous skies and runners in the park

Runners heading through the castle

After the 4th mile we left the park and initially ran around staff only areas, before heading into countryside. Here was a long and slow incline- probably for about 2 miles, which got a bit mentally tough. There were a few bands placed here and there, but not many, and it wasn’t as interesting as the park. There were some members of the public cheering (clearly some family members of runners with nice personal signs) but again not as many people as in the parks. We ran around an athletic track at one point but I have no idea when! At the top of the long hill (the end of mile 7) there were runners on the other side of the road heading back, so I kept expecting a turn around point. In fact we ran out and around a lake (the whole of mile 9 was going around the lake)- there were some cheerleaders here and a bit more of an atmosphere.

The lake we ran around- I just missed a pothole as again was running while photographing- not a good idea!

There were quite a lot of drinks stations (I think one after around the first mile), and some had interesting looking blue powerade as well as water. Later on there were “nutrition” stations which had Special K cereal bars (nutrition????) as well as packets of sliced apples. I had seen people the day before with Run Disney paperbags (there was a 5k on the Saturday) so I was hoping we would get some apple at the end. I didn’t have a drink (I hate that sloshing feeling) and probably could have eaten some apple but I’d never had an apple on a run before so I didn’t chance it.

Anyway, back to the run. I had been glancing at my watch and we had always been hovering around the 10 minute mile mark, but as we left the off-road surface of the lake and were heading back, we picked up the pace. I did tell Andy to run on as I could not quite keep up as my stomach had started to ache, but he slowed down and we ran together. We started to see people walking the other way with their medals and goodies, and it started to feel like the end was in sight. Mile 11 was around some of the Disney hotels (the theming is not a patch on the Florida ones) and then we were into the “Downtown Disney” area, running around the lake. Here there were plenty of crowds and I think I surged ahead a bit too early! The race had a km marker for each one, and then mile markers at certain points (I think 5 or 6, 9, maybe 12), so I was getting confused as to where we were. Plus (possibly because of our toilet stop) from the beginning our watches were beeping around 0.5km/0.3 miles before each marker.  We ran past the start area and I really thought that was it, but then we ran out of the village area and around into a field to a little out and back marked off area to the proper finish.

Look at the medal!!!!

I was very pleased to have finished and I felt a little bit weird. I saw Minnie Mouse at the finish line so I handed Andy my phone and asked him to take a picture- she gave me a high 5 and then one of the marshals told me off and said “no photos”. I can see why I suppose, but I didn’t see any signs and as people were having their pictures taken with characters on the way around I don’t know why they were there?

Anyway, we were handed our massive medals, a banana, some water and lemon powerade, and then a paper bag to carry it all in. I had the drink as I think my stomach ache may have been hunger? Getting up so early makes my stomach feel weird anyway. We took a few photos, and I was tempted by another t-shirt in the expo but I resisted, and so we walked to the metro and went back to the hotel.


A strava screenshot- it started in the middle at the bottom, before going to the left, over the long loop clockwise, around the lake at the far right, back to the loop and into the middle.

Because of the late start we got back at around 10.30 I think- we asked as we went past Reception “what time is checkout?” and they told us “for you, 12.00” (it was meant to be 11am)- which was so kind of them. This meant we didn’t need to rush our showers and packing, and we enjoyed a breakfast of a chocolate almond croissant (we’d bought them on Saturday).

These were the signs they had at each km, but the only one I managed to have a photo of!

Later in the day it poured with rain- we were so lucky as it was gorgeous for the actual race. We had a wander around the shopping centre, headed back to the Disney village for lunch, before getting the train home. This sounds easy but I was so shattered that I nearly fell asleep in the sandwich shop while Andy was waiting for them to be made. As soon as I got on the train I put  on a podcast and fell asleep right away (I listened to it driving to work as I had missed the whole thing!).

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a bit tough at the end, but it’s a half marathon and it shouldn’t be easy! The organisation was good, (despite the late start) although I still have no idea of my official time – apparently we will get them 2 weeks after the event! Strava says 2.12 something, but I don’t think that includes the toilet stop so the chip time will be a little more. Hopefully it won’t be the last one they hold in Paris, although I am hoping for a 10K next time.

I think that is my third race abroad ( to add to the Stockholm marathon and the Hawaii 5K)- I need to do a 10k somewhere to get a set!

Have you ever raced abroad? Would you be tempted by a Disney race?

When I realise that I need to plan my runs out…

So, as I mentioned before, I have signed up to run 100 miles during the month of September (not all in one go!). More of a challenge than July, as I am at work so no chance of a longer run midweek to make up the miles.

I had worked it out roughly as four runs per week, 3 of five miles, and 1x 10 miles. But I got behind as coming back after my holiday I eased in a bit gently, doing less than 5 on the shorter runs, and only a 6 for the first long run.

This week I did some adding up and realised I am leaving things a bit late- I keep thinking as I am doing a half next weekend it’s fine, as that’s more than 10 miles, but forgetting that I won’t be parkrunning on the Saturday…

Anyway, last week went like this:

Monday– Rest/ walk after work (2 miles ish)


Tuesday– It was so hot! This was at 6.30 (after being in a boiling hot classroom all day- it’s 30C in the coolest bit)- the temperature outside was still 30! We did 4 miles around the lake as it was a bit cooler, and that was far enough for us all.

Wednesday- I woke up in the night with an awful headache – I knew I had not had enough to drink after the Tuesday run (a glass of nuun, a cup of tea and a little bit of water), and I ended up being awake for a couple of hours. As we had a meeting and then our club social on Thursday, I had to do my run that day, so I went out for 5 miles. I took it slowly as I was tired from the night before, and I bumped into someone from the club so I chatted to her for a bit.


I was dripping when I got home! I think it felt hotter than Tuesday, probably being an hour earlier didn’t help. I made sure I had a lot to drink though, including some coconut water.

Thursday– Rest

Friday– Walk after work (and how crazy were all those floods? My journey to work felt like I was driving through rivers!)

Saturday– I was going to meet my dad at Panshanger parkrun, as I had not been there since before holiday, and they were having a charity cake sale. I got there early and did a couple of miles along one of the tracks, and the hung around at the start, Luckily I had my phone with me, as at around 8.45 my phone rang, with my dad telling me that him and my brother left late (my brother’s alarm didn’t go off) and so they were going to Ellenbrook as they would not get here on time!


So I did the parkrun, and then as I was in the barcode scanning queue I realised it was around 0.4 miles back to the car, and I had already run 5.4, so if I did a little bit around a field I could make it up to 6. Every mile counts!


I bought a couple of these amazing flapjack caramel pecan squares and had a bit of one when I got home- it was delicious. My trail shoes got their first outing of the autumn too.

In the afternoon we headed into London as some of my relatives from Austria were visiting, so we had a lovely wander by the Thames, had a Starbucks (it was so cold!), walked some more, went to some pubs (the rest of my family very much like a beer or three!) and had dinner before wandering back along the Thames in the dark. There was an interesting art instillation- a large cube of drawings made by North Korean refugees, lit up from the inside. At night it really stood out and looked very dramatic.

Sunday– Long run. I had to be up early as I was meeting friends at Luton Hoo for “morning coffee” (basically pastries and tea), and Andy was also up early as he was driving down to Southampton. So by 7.30 I was out the door. I had planned on running 10 miles, but as I neared home I felt OK, and still had 10 minutes left of my allotted run time, so I headed around the little mile loop to make it up to 11. After a drink and some pottering (emptying the dishwasher, putting away washing- these things are more useful to life than stretching) I had a shower and even managed to dry my hair for 10 minutes, so it wasn’t completely dripping. Then I could enjoy a lovely catch up.

So, I think this week I actually managed the 25 miles, (26 in fact) and now my total for the month is 69. I need to make sure I stick to my plan though otherwise on the final day I am going to be doing a very long run after work indeed!

Are you a fan of art? I like it when it is explained, as just looking at something does not often mean much to me- I’m not good at interpreting things.

A running club celebration!

So this week our running club held an evening event, to celebrate 4 years of the club!

The event was being hosted in a local cycle shop (that also has a cafe- what a great idea), and they were hosting a guest speaker, Shu Pillinger. I had a bit of a rush to get there as we had a presentation to parents at work, due to finish at 6, but of course there is the tidying away and driving home. I ended up getting home at 6.55, and had the quickest ever shower and some toast before rushing out of the door at 7.20- I just made the 7.30 start in time!


My phone was not keen on the screen it seems!

The evening was lovely- when I arrived there were nibbles on tables as well as prosecco and sparkling water. I bought a cup of tea from the cafe (my one caffeinated drink per day allowance needed using up!), and I chatted to a few of the club members. It’s funny seeing people out of their running gear, with normal hair!


At around 7.45, we sat down and Shu began her talk, and it was just fascinating. She began by running a race for life, and from then has transformed into an ultra athlete. The main challenge she talked about was completing the RAAM (Race Across America)- she cycled the whole width of the USA in 12 days and 9 hours, and was the first British woman to ever achieve it. I didn’t even think you could drive across the USA in that time. She talked about the hallucinations, falling asleep on her bike while cycling (it was pretty non-stop), a bit about her vegan diet, and then her training. She commutes into London each day on her bike, 20 miles each way. One thing she mentioned was that at the weekends she likes challenges such as cycling around the outside of the M25 (not on it)- apparently to cross one of the bridges, as bikes are not allowed on it, there is a phone box and you call someone, and they turn up with a van, put your bike in the back of the van and then drive you across the bridge. It sounded like the equivalent of a secret handshake or something. She might swim a mile in the morning before that, and after the talk that evening she was running back (to St Albans, so maybe 7 miles or something, depending on whereabouts).  She did a bit of a question and answer session too, and there were lots of questions about her running, different events and her weekends. Her website (linked to above) is well worth a look if you are interested in that sort of thing. It felt like a live episode of the tough girl podcast! When it finished she changed into her (marathon talk) running t-shirt and kit, and then headed off.


I chatted a bit more before heading home at around 10pm. It was so inspiring and interesting, and something that I would have no idea about if the club had not put the event on. Although I am not about to cycle around Ireland or run around Cypress (other events she had taken part in) it was good to hear someone so passionate about keeping active and chasing new challenges. It was also to see some fantastic photos (Monument Valley at sunrise) and it made me want another holiday!

What sort of people inspire you? What types of challenges do you like?

Slowly upping the miles

So since getting back from holiday I have been very aware that I have a half marathon to run at the end of September (in Disneyland Paris- I’m so excited!!!). I knew I would not have much of a chance to run on holiday, but I did run 13 miles the week before we went away, with the aim of getting up to around 10 miles in September. I was also very conscious of not getting my bad back from upping miles too quickly, so I decided to start off gently and then up them more at the end of the month.

I also signed up to run 100 miles during September, because I liked the medal.

(From their facebook page). Seriously, how pretty is it???

We arrived home late Monday, and on Tuesday I went out for a 3 mile run- I had to stop and walk and put that down to being tired (I was awake from around 3-5am), being dehydrated, and not having eaten much the day before (I didn’t want breakfast when we landed, and ended up having some cereal at around 5pm after we had got home).


I stopped in town to buy an almond croissant and had that as my breakfast when I got home

On Wednesday I made the most of my last day of the summer holidays and went out for 4 miles, and then on Thursday after work I went for 5 miles, because I realised it was September and I needed to start ticking the miles off. Perhaps running 3 days in a row wasn’t a good idea, but Friday was a rest day anyway.

On Saturday I headed to Wimpole Estate parkrun for some tourism,and then on Sunday morning I did 6 miles before going out for brunch. I would have been tempted to go a bit further, but I didn’t have time and that was just as well as I know once I get back into more of a routine I can run further.

Then last week has looked like this:

Monday- rest day. Walk after work.

Tuesday- 8.3 miles with club- I had warned them I would be slower than usual as I had not run that far for a while, but it was great. As we ran down the final hill, the sun was setting and we had beautiful views across the countryside. Everyone stops at the top of each hill for the group to catch up so I had a few chances to catch my breath which was good. One of our runners managed that route for the first time- she had done up to 6 miles before, so that was a great achievement. Somehow, running long in the evenings seems more of an acomplishment than running on a Sunday morning.

Wednesday- Yoga class!

Thursday- 5 miles after work to try and ease my yoga aches!

Friday-  I met some friends at the Waffle House after work, and although I did consider a walk when I got home, I was too tired so just watched some of the Paralympics instead.


Saturday morning, sitting in my car wondering if the rain would ease off!

Saturday- I had volunteered to do the new runners briefing at Ellenbrook parkrun, and with the 100 mile challenge I have broken it down to mainly three runs of 5 miles each, and a long run of 10 miles. To make the parkrun up, I did a couple of laps of the university, which totalled 2 miles. I then had time to chat to the other volunteers and give the talk before running it myself. One lady turned up with a crutch, saying she had not been able to walk for 18 months, and was gradually working back up to it- she wanted to walk it and then eventually run it.

I ran a bit with someone else from my club, and we were having a lovely chat for a bit, but then she felt like she was slowing and so I kept on going. I ended up overtaking a couple of ladies, and one of them came up to me at the finish and told me “I didn’t think anyone would go past me and the you did”- I apologised but she was only being nice about it, and it was probably half a km from the end, so we ended up having a nice chat about all things running. There were loads of our club members volunteering and running, and it was great to see so many people. One person said “if you get a good time after nattering the whole way around I will be so annoyed!” – in my defence we only really chatted for the first half! I was saving my legs for Sunday anyway!

I was talking to one of my friends about doing the 100 mile challenge, and she said she didn’t think she could run for over 6 miles. I said I liked to listen to podcasts, and at that point John Norman (Danny Norman’s dad, who used to present the parkrun podcast) came over and started talking to me about podcasts. Now, some of you may remember (!) that he stopped me out for a run- I have checked my blog and it was back in 2014 (here if you are interested). Him and his wife help out most weeks at Ellenbrook, and sadly in August he had suffered a stroke (the Ellenbrook team put out a message on facebook to wish him well, so he wasn’t keeping it private), so he ended up telling me about that. He’d been signed off from physio this week so was really pleased to be on the mend.

Sunday was 10 miles- (a bit of a Martin Yelling inverse taper going on- I figured that I ran 8 miles on Tuesday to the jump up to 10 would be fine)- someone from my club was going out for around 12, and usually I would have joined her but I didn’t want to set an alarm as the next time I won’t set one is the 2nd October. I woke up around 8, and pottered about before heading out just before 9.


It was perfect running weather- sunny but cool from a gentle breeze. Fab.

How do you get back to running/exercise after a break? What is your ideal weather? After this muggy and hot week I am quite looking forward to some cooler and crisper days.

Going to an actual yoga class

Our running club has links to a local yoga teacher, and for a while I have been looking at the times each week and thinking about going. This week, I decided to be brave and head along to it.


Sunflowers finally flowering- something relaxing to look at (even if one is very droopy!)

One friend had said she would meet me outside, but then messaged me as I was leaving saying that her husband was not yet back so she didn’t know if she would make it. It was too late for me to back out! I arrived early and sat in my car for a bit, I’m not sure why I was so nervous about it. As I was the first to arrive I chatted a bit to the instructor who really put me at ease. She asked about why I wanted to come, and whether I had done any yoga before (I did say I had copied some videos from the internet, but I am not sure if it really counts!).

Anyway, there was another new person who turned up, as well as some regulars, (including some children), another friend from the club, and my friend who managed to get there just as it was starting.

In my ignorance, I imagined we would spend the class lying on mats, relaxing. I have no idea why I thought that! I also wore trainers, not really thinking that we would have bare feet for the class. The instructor had mats and blocks, and after a gentle warm up we started the session, which this week focused on twists (she has a different focus each week).  It was tough (in a good way)- I had no idea I would sweat that much! We did a lot of abs work- laying on backs with legs in the air, lifting shoulders and twisting elbows across. We then did a lot of mini routines where we repeated sequences of moves (downward dog, kicking one leg out several times, going down into plank and then press up positions)- my arms were shaking by the end of that set! At one point we were doing some balances and new people were encouraged to go to the front so we could lean against the wall- I was very glad I was not the only new person there, although of course no-one was looking, they were all focusing on their own balances.

The instructor was lovely- she would come around and adjust you slightly, which of course you would never have if you were just watching it on the internet or doing it via an app.  All the way through she would show variations if you were struggling to do the poses shown, and even though I am very inflexible I didn’t feel self conscious about it.

Towards the end we had a very relaxing stretch and had to close our eyes- the instructor turned off the lights (she had candles on) and put some rose oil on our foreheads. This was the yoga I was expecting! I did find the more spiritual side of it a bit strange (after the warm up we did some “oms”- everyone sung the same note and that was a bit unexpected)

I ached so much the next day though- the same sort of aches I get after body pump. But I think the extra focus on flexibility will do me good so I will be heading back there again.

Are you  fan of yoga? Do you worry about trying new things or do you just go with the flow?