Sunday 28 April 2013

Running Success

Well today saw me and Simon enter our first ever organised run event, the Derby 10K & 3K.

A few months ago Simon and I were having our usual Saturday morning Starbucks whilst our daughter spent an hour at her electric guitar lesson.  Whilst waiting for the freshly made coffee we both spotted a small flyer advertising an upcoming running event around the area local to the aforementioned Starbucks.

The event was a 10K and 3K run-jog-walk around a local football ground; Derby County FC at Pride Park, Derby.  Now at the time of seeing this flyer Simon had managed to keep to a pretty good schedule of runs, despite some appalling British weather.  I on the other hand...not so much!  I too had been plagued by the very snowy winter but also by a rather painful chilblain which had literally stopped me in my tracks.

But as we sat there drinking our coffees we both looked at each other and had the exact same thought...we could do this and do it together.  Well, OK by together I mean Simon could run the 10K and I would cheer him on and then he would join me and help me through the 3K.

So as soon as we got home, we powered up the laptop and enrolled ourselves for the relevant races!  There was no going back now!  And then our thoughts turned as to why we were doing this? Sure the sense of personal achievement would be fantastic but surely we could turn our sporting endeavours to good use.  Perhaps we could raise some money for charity?  But which one? We both knew which charity we wanted to support, one that we had supported before and one that has some close links to our love of Disney.

Previously we had used Simon's artistic talents to help raise money for the WDW Radio Dream Team Project, which raises funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation USA.  But as we are in the UK we thought we could continue the theme by raising money for the UK Make-A-Wish Foundation.

So back to today, the day for our running!  Through amazing friends we had already raised a fantastic sum of money through sponsorship donations so now it was our turn to live up to our end of the deal and run those kilometers.  So an early start; breakfast at 7.30am...on a Sunday morning...was followed by a short drive to the location of the race. We parked up, and decided to remain in the car as it was absolutely freezing!!  It even started to rain at one point...but thankfully it didn't last long and for the duration of both events it remained dry but windy and cold!  I was glad that I'd decided to get my cold weather running gear back out of the cupboard!!

As race time approached we braved the elements, and joined the crowds and approximately 3500 other 10K runners, and in amongst the crowds we were spotted by my cousin who was also running her first ever 10K race; couldn't believe out of all those faces we managed to meet up, we both knew we would be there but never thought in the sea of people we would actually spot each other.
Me and my cousin, Jennifer
So I left Simon at the starting line and moved down the first straight to see if I could get a glimpse of him running through.  The claxon sounded and a mass of runners flew I know he was in there somewhere but where I don't know.  After all the runners had gone by I made my way over to the football stadium to grab myself a seat and await the finish of the race.  The final leg of the race was a dash along the length of the football field, so I kept my eye on the digital timer as I knew Simon should be finishing around the 45 minute mark.

The first runners entered the stadium and finished with a very impressive 31 minutes. The atmosphere was fantastic with the crowd cheering everyone home, everyone looking for that special someone that they were supporting.  I noticed the timer ticking into the 40 minute mark, so got the camera ready so I could attempt to take some shots of Simon crossing the finish line, I looked up and there he was entering the stadium!  He was running really well and even managed a sprint to line, picking off at least a dozen other runners; I was very impressed and felt really rather proud :)  Quickly I dashed out of the stadium to greet him as he left the runners area, eager to know what his time was as I'd missed the timer!!  So after checking his Nike+ app we knew that he'd done his fastest ever 10K in 42:07 minutes, officially placed 264th out of 3517 runners - absolutely fantastic.
Simon crossing the finish line
A very happy Simon after completing the 10K
So after a brief interlude (sat back in the car trying to keep warm) it was my turn to do my bit (along with Simon to keep me going!).  Now up to this point I had only been back out on the road for a few weeks and  usually managed, at most, around 1 mile without stopping, I would then continue my run with a mix of walking and running.  So I was determined to run for as long as I absolutely could...

I have to say that the atmosphere was great, there was a lovely mix of people from small jogging clubs to individuals to families all determined to have fun and get that 3K completed one way or another :)  So off we set, and after getting used to running with lots of other people, I settled into my running.  I was determined to keep focused on what I was doing and not be put off by others, or try to run faster than I could manage.  With Simon by my side I kept up the pace, occasionally dodging children as they seemed to dart in and out of the crowd at an alarming pace (oh to have their energy!) and kept on running...through 1K...that wasn't too bad...pushing along to the 2K mark but as I approached it I knew that I was going to have to slow down and take a breather, so with 2K completed (non-stop) I slowed to a walk.  I caught my breath, walked for a small amount, dug in my heels and started running again.  I had one more short walk break before rounding the corner to the stadium, and once I could see the finish in sight I was determined to finish strong...I ran down the side of the football pitch and over the finish line in 27:28 minutes with my fastest pace ever :)  I even got a medal - go me!
Me and my medal :)
So, when's the next one?!!

If you would like to add to the money we have already raised for Make-A-Wish Foundation UK please follow this link as at 28th April we had raised £250, which should increase further as Simon's employer are matching every pound (up to £300) that we raise - thank you.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Running where?

So I thought it was about time I brought you up to date with my running efforts!

So after a very cold winter and being plagued with a painful chilblain on my left foot I have finally managed to get back out on the road.  My new efforts started over the Easter weekend and I have now completed 8 runs.

I am kinda picking up from where I left off last October and am doing a combination of running and walking, something I first started doing last Summer when I tackled the C25K program.  The mix of steadily increasing the running and reducing the walking worked really well for me and resulted in my being able to run for 20/25 minutes non-stop.  So when I picked up the baton again at Easter I decided to adopt a running and walking approach but rather than follow the C25K program again I thought I would just get out there and see what I could do.

So 8 runs in and I have to admit I am pleasantly surprised with myself and my efforts.  I can now run for approximately 1 mile non-stop and then finish a route of nearly 2.5 miles with a mix of walking and running.  And what I have noticed is that my running segments are getting longer!

Today Simon and I decided to try something a little different with our run, instead of doing the usual route near where we live we thought we would drive a few miles to a local country park and have a run around the grounds.  The weather was just right, a little chill in the air but the sun was shining with only a light wind.  We parked up, set our i-pods and running apps going and off we went to find our route.  The park is relatively flat and had plenty of clear paths for us to follow, so dodging pedestrians, cyclists, dogs and children we had our little run.

This was my first taste of running on different terrains, which I was a bit nervous about, but I found it was much easier than I'd expected.  It was a beautiful setting to run around, lots of greenery, gardens and even a stately home and courtyard to navigate!

It was also good preparation for mine and Simon's first organised run event next weekend!  Simon is running a 10K and is then joining me in a 3K...I would love to run the whole 3K but am not sure that is realistic, I know I'm not far off so I will give it my best shot and let you all know how I get on.

We have decided to put our running to good use and are using the opportunity to raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation UK, a charity dear to our hearts as we have previously supported the US Make-a-Wish Foundation through Simon contributing unique pieces of art for auctions run by the WDW Radio Dream Team Project.

If you'd like to support our running efforts please visit our Just Giving page at

Thank You!

Sunday 14 April 2013

Now & addendum!

So I thought I would just add an addendum to my recent series of posts entitled 'Now & Then', which looked at photos taken during some earlier visits to WDW in particular our first visit in 1991 and then those same 'photos' re-created during our most recent visit some twenty years later in 2011.

All the photos posted so far concentrated on WDW...but we also recreated photos taken at Universal Studios, and here are the results!

1991 - Mels Diner
...and 2011

1991 - San Francisco/Fisherman's Wharf area
...and 2011
...and still around the San Francisco and Amity area, this photo was a little trickier to re-create as the 'ped-xing' sign could not be found!
1991 - ah Lemon Squeeze, love that drink!
...and 2011

1991 - Jaws!!!!
...and 2011

and finally in the New York area...
...and 2011

Something I hadn't really appreciated back in 1991 was just how new Universal Studios was, it had only been open just over 12 months when we visited, and although I have enjoyed visiting over the years I am seriously considering whether we will be visiting later this year.  There are a couple of rides I love - Men In Black & The Simpons (although I still prefer the previous incarnation of 'Back to the Future') - but other than that I find I am struggling to find good reason to spend the ticket entrance fee!

And obviously since our first visit back in 1991 Universal has expanded to include Islands of Adventure and Citywalk, both of which certainly add more to the Universal experience. Will we visit this year?  I simply don't this space later in the year to find out!

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Now & Then...Part Five

And here is the final part in this little series of looking back and comparing how things were and how they are now.  These photos look back at the first Disney Resort hotel that we stayed at in 1996 and then when we stayed for a third time in 2011 - Port Orleans French Quarter.

So let's see what has, or hasn't, changed...

First we have the walkway from the main building down to the pool area.


And by the pool...

And in one of the beautiful courtyards...

Where have the palm trees gone?

It is a beautiful and, surprisingly, tranquil resort and one that we love and would not hesitate about returning to or recommending.  But this year we have decided to be brave and try a different 'moderate' resort (can't afford the 'deluxe' ones although I'd love to be able to one day) so this year see's us at Disney's Coronado Springs instead...only 132 days to go!!

Monday 8 April 2013

Now & Then...Part Four

So here's part four of my look back at how things once were and how they are now through a series photos taken over our various visits.  In particular recreating photos during our last visit in 2011 of photos taken originally in 1991, when we made our first trip to WDW, and in 1996, when we stayed in a Disney Resort hotel for the first time.

This post looks at areas outside the parks starting with outside the Dolphin Resort hotel on our way to Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf...


...and playing miniature golf...


Can you see the Tower of Terror in the second picture?  Only just if you look carefully!



And the common factor in both these visits to Fantastia Gardens was that it rained...not sure playing golf with metal sticks in a thunder storm was one of our better ideas!!

1996 - hole in one!!
2011 - hole in one...again! Honest!

I can take no credit for golf skills here as I think we all got 'hole-in-ones' :)

Saturday 6 April 2013

Running with a Florida Soundtrack

So today saw me back out on the road in my renewed effort to get back into this running malarky.  And whilst I am still at the run some, walk a bit and run some more stage at least I am out there and moving.

The weather today in the UK has finally decided to resemble something like Spring; blue skies and sunshine and whilst the temperature may not be brilliant (8C or 47F) it's a darned sight warmer than it has been!

So as I set off on my usual little route I got out my old i-pod for a little background music...what to listen to...and then I came across a playlist made by Simon entitled 'Florida 2011'.

On our last few vacations Simon has made a point of taking note of the music being played wherever we have been and then when home he has downloaded tracks and made a playlist that the whole family has on each of their respective i-devices; a really cool and easy way to bring back those holiday memories.  I feel the need to give credit for this idea to friend (and Simon's boss!) Alex who apparently came up with this idea whilst they were on a business trip to Japan a few years ago!

So this playlist has tracks we heard from all over; from the Starbucks on the way to the airport to the various parks to the boats between Port Orleans French Quarter and Downtown Disney to lounging by the pool and even the TV in our room!!  And quite a varied list it is to...but I thought what better way to motivate me in my running than to listen to music associated with such happy memories.

So here goes our Florida 2011 playlist, with custom album cover by Simon - he just couldn't resist getting arty!!

(the song titles below contain links to YouTube, in case you want to sing along...)

Super Bass Nikki Minaj Listening to Radio One in the car, driving to Gatwick Airport
I Need a Dollar Aloe Blacc Listening to Radio One in the car, driving to Gatwick Airport
Umbrella (Acoustic) Rihanna Starbucks at Universal City Walk
All You Need Is Now Duran Duran Universal City Walk - one of my favourite bands ever!
Know Your Enemy Green Day Universal City Walk
Replay Iyaz On the Boat from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney
Hawiian Roller Coaster Ride Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu Eating Sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich, Downtown Disney
Too Late For Lovers Gin Wigmore Apricot Lane Store, Pleasure Island
Mayhem Imelda May Apricot Lane Store, Pleasure Island
Born to Be Wild Steppenwolf Pleasure Island
Wicked Game Chris Isaak Pleasure Island, catching the bus for Fantasia Gardens
Surfin' Safari The Beach Boys Blizzard Beach
Love Shack The B-52's Blizzard Beach
Men In Black Will Smith Universal Studios
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) C+C Music Factory Universal Studios
That's The Way Love Goes Janet Jackson Universal Studios
Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head) Will Smith Universal Studios
Alligator Sky Owl City Universal City Walk
Going Down / Love in an Elevator Aerosmith Disney's Hollywood Studios - Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Walk This Way Aerosmith Disney's Hollywood Studios - Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
Shake It Up Selena Gomez The song that was constantly playing on the Disney Channel at the hotel
Heart and Soul Jonas Brothers Disney's Hollywood Studios - Disney Channel Rocks! Parade
This Is Our Song Camp Rock Cast Disney's Hollywood Studios - Disney Channel Rocks! Parade
Wannabe Spice Girls By the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter
Pon de Replay Rihanna By the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter
I Like the Way You Move Bodyrockers By the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter
Whenever, Wherever Shakira By the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter
Major Tom (Coming Home) Shiny Toy Guns Pleasure Island
Glam Christina Aguilera Downtown Disney - watching Disney Talent Show
Born This Way Lady GaGa Downtown Disney - watching Disney Talent Show
I Like That (Radio Edit) [feat. Luciana] Static Revenger Pleasure Island
Perfect Day Danny Jacob Back Home watching Phineas and Ferb in the 2nd Dimension (DVD we'd bought on vacation)

Friday 5 April 2013

Now & Then...Part Three

So here is part three in a series of posts comparing WDW through photos taken during our various visits over the years; focusing on our first visit in 1991 and our most recent visit some twenty years later in 2011, with a few extra photos thrown in from 1996 - the year we stayed in a Disney Resort hotel for the first time.

This post will look at what was once Disney's MGM Studios and is now Disney's Hollywood Studios.  So we start in front of The Great Movie Ride (let's play spot the obvious difference!)

Anyone seen Roger Rabbit?





So, apart from the obvious blue hat, the only real changes in these photos appears to be the greenery and that's about it.

This park has seen some changes over the years, I still lament the loss of the animation studio, but I think there is potential here for new additions...Star Wars Land (I would have one happy husband if this ever happened!)....Carsland....

Oh the possibilities...I think this is what keeps us coming back to Disney parks time and time again; the changes how ever subtle, the improvements, the attention to detail, the story, the desire to do things well and get it right, whilst at the same time retaining the familiarity that brings back the memories and feelings that we hold close.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

So, how's the running?

Well part of this blog was to detail my progress as I took up running for the first time, with my aim of running around Lago Dorado at Coronado Springs Resort on our next visit to WDW my motivation.

So after a shaky start this time last year I got motivated and took advantage of working in education and used last years Summer holidays to get into a routine of running three times a week following the C25K plan (Couch to 5K).  And I did really well, I stuck to my goals and by the end of the six weeks Summer holidays I had completed week 6 of the 9 week C25K plan, and even once I returned to work I was still getting out and running as often as I could until early October...

Autumn came along and through a mixture of social commitments, cold and wet weather and darker nights I suddenly found it more and more difficult to find time to go out for a run.  Before I knew it December was upon us and for my birthday Simon bought me some cold weather running gear so I really had no excuse now to get back out there.

So New Year met with new determination and out I set for a run in my new gear, and was pleasantly surprised with myself.  I did better than I thought I would and although I couldn't run for as long as I had been doing I still got out there and gave it my best shot.  A couple of days later I got out for another run and thought I was back on the way to getting into a routine and running regularly again...

But then the British weather took hold!  We have had the coldest and snowiest winter that I can ever remember and conditions just weren't good for getting out and running.
My garden looked like this for what seemed an eternity (actually about  2/3 weeks)
I was also suffering from a chilblain on one of my toes which was making walking, never mind running, extremely painful.  So yet again my running came to an abrupt stop.

I now find myself at another school holiday; two weeks off work!  Now the weather is still awful, apparently it's been the coldest March on record (no kidding!) but I have two clear weeks to get back into that ever so important routine.  So as I write this I am not long back in from my second run in four I say run but to be honest at this point I am back to a combination of running and walking...but at least I am out there and moving!

I have to admit that they haven't been the most pleasant of runs, my cold weather gear has kept me lovely and warm but running in cold air really quite surprised me; really taking my breath away.  Today I was confronted with quite a strong wind which again didn't help matters but two short runs in and nearly 700 calories burnt so I don't think that's too bad.

So although tough going I am pleased that I have got back out there and know that long term I will benefit so much from what I am doing; I shall be fitter, slimmer and healthier.  I am setting myself sensible, attainable goals; I have a 3K fun run planned for 28th April and two possible 5K charity walks coming up.  Simon is also taking part in a 10K on the 28th April as well as our local half marathon in September so I think it's fair to say our house is going to be a lot fitter by the time we take on WDW in August!!

By the way when Simon and I take part in the 10K & 3K on 28th April we will be raising funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation UK.  Having previously supported the WDW Radio Dream Team Project which supports the Make-a-Wish Foundation in the US we felt drawn to help support their UK counterparts.  You can help us fundraise by visiting our Just Giving page and making a donation - thank you x

Monday 1 April 2013

Now & Then...Part Two

This is part two in my trip down memory lane using photos that have been taken on various visits to WDW; some from our first visit in 1991 and some from 1996 when we stayed in a Disney Resort hotel for the first time, and then comparing them to the 'same' photos taken during our most recent visit in 2011.

In this second post let's look at Epcot...

We start with photos taken outside of The Land pavilion with the Imagination pavilion in the background.


Honestly the Imagination pavilion is there, it's just hidden by trees!!

And various shots around World Showcase...

These photos are taken in Canada looking across the World Showcase Lagoon.  It was tricky trying to recreate this photo, as you can see the original wooden fence has been replaced with some planting, along with a smaller fence placed in front.

And here we are in Japan, which apart from some growth in the trees hasn't really changed that much.

Look out for 'part three' in this series....coming soon!