RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD #5 – PARIS MARATHON, FRANCE

Hello beautiful people 😀 😉

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 10.25.39Super excited today to share another “Running around the world” piece today (No idea what i am talking about? Check it out here)! I know, I know…it is not Tuesday but I got this a few days ago and had an opening today and it was too interesting and nice not to share! So today’s piece is from Bethan, who blogs over at A pretty place to play, and I met her a few weeks ago 🙂 She is a really cool person and I am sure you guys will love her piece as much as I did!

Let’s see where we are going…

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I never thought I’d be any sort of runner, let alone a marathon runner, but sometimes life proves you wrong. After months of pushing the idea to the back of my mind I took up running three years ago tentatively jogging around my neighbourhood after dark questioning whether I’d taken on a bit too much by signing up for a 10k. During those slow starter runs something unexpected happened – I fell in love with running. I’d struggled for years with confidence and self-worth and running was showing me what I was capable of. It was amazing. After that first 10k I started to test myself a bit more, I got braver, I figured if I could run 10k I could run a half marathon, and if I could run a half marathon I could maybe, just maybe run a marathon. The final straw came when my friend Leah ran Paris Marathon in 2014, I decided if she could do it, well then I could do it too.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 08.23.48I knew that I wanted my first marathon to be big (figuring that if things got tough I could rely on crowds of supporters to keep me going), ideally flat and somewhere special. London was out of the question because it’s hard to get a ballot place and I couldn’t commit to raising thousands of pounds for charity, but Paris seemed much more viable. Paris is an amazing city, easy to get to from my home in London, is flat and fast and crucially has tonnes of supporters along the whole route. All of my boxes were ticked.

I entered through the ballot system which at the time was slightly redundant as you were pretty much guaranteed entry, which was great for a nervy first time marathoner (I like to know well in advance what’s ahead of me!). Thankfully my parents decided to travel to Paris to support me and took care of accommodation – my Mum found a great hotel within walking distance of the start line on The Champs-Elysees. I’d definitely recommend trying to stay as close to the start line as possible, it definitely made my race day morning more relaxed (well, other than when my mum suggested a short cut…but that’s another story).

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As with most big city marathons Paris Marathon kicks off with an expo – it’s the stuff of runner’s dreams, there’s every bit of kit you could imagine, and you get to play with all of it! I’m really glad I made time to hang out at the expo, it was fun to explore, mislay my parents (I think my Dad got distracted trying to work out what the deal was with Powerbars) and pick up some souvenirs (I still get a bit of a kick when I drink coffee from my marathon mug, although that could be the caffeine). Around the marathon there are also all sorts of shake out runs and pasta parties you can go to, although as I was with my family I decided to take the opportunity to hang out with them instead.

So the race itself! The race itself was magical, I honestly don’t think I’ll ever have a race as good again. Bouncing around in the pen at the start (expect to see lots of people peeing – the one down side of Paris is a distinct shortage of porta-loos) I wasn’t nervous or excited, I just felt calm and ready. There was no fanfare, the crew just removed the fences and we started walking, walks turned in to jogs and then, suddenly, I realised I was running a marathon. It was truly surreal and wonderful. The miles flew by, locals and visitors gathered at the edge of the course, not in the numbers you see in London, but enough to make me feel really special. Fire engines flanked the course, their ladders suspended above the road with firefighters in gleaming sliver helmets perched on top singing and cheering. All the big sights were signposted for runners to see (and you could download a marathon sightseeing podcast – how cool is that?!). It all just blew my mind.

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Paris is an amazing city to run in – whether it’s the full marathon or a shorter race. It’s a beautiful and at every turn there’s a mind blowing sight to feast your eyes on, and take your mind of any pain you might be feeling around mile 23! It’s truly magical, and definitely the place to go if you want to challenge yourself somewhere really special.


 

Huge thank you to Bethan for sharing her story with us🙂

Till next time with other exotic (and not) running destinations!!

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Any one who has a running story from ANYWHERE in the world that would like to be part of these series is welcome!! Shoot me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or send me atweet or a Facebook or an Instagram message! Also if you would like to connect with other runners from all over the world you can join our -open to all- Facebook group 😀

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RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD #4 – FLORIDA, USA

 

Hello friends😀

I am beyond excited to share with you today my “Running around the world” series post #4!No idea what i am talking about? Check it out here. I am so so happy with how much everyone liked these series!! This time, we are travelling, somewhere super warm and super pretty, to meet Alison, also known as The Running Princess! No better place for us to go on a summer day 🙂

Let’s see where we are going…

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Hi, I’m Allison. I’m an English teacher in Scotland and I love to run, however I only found running as an adult, having done no sport whatsoever when I was younger. I began running because I wanted to raise money for charity after the death of my gran and knew I needed to set myself a challenge. Before long I found myself bitten by the running bug! At first I found 5k slow and tough, I couldn’t understand how anybody could ever run further, but these days I’m running much further and faster with 8 marathons under my belt and numerous other races. If you’d told me that when I first started, I would have thought you were mad!

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(After the Paris Marathon in 2016)

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 18.06.26I run for a variety of reasons: I like the time alone to clear my head, I like the camaraderie of being part of a community and I like the challenge of seeing if I can improve my times. But one of the things I LOVE about running is that it gives me the opportunity to visit new places. My husband and I have often joked that our “weekends away” are all centered around races, and I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have visited Paris quite so many times if it wasn’t to run the marathon!

Which brings me to the topic of this post: running in Florida. Although I’m in Scotland, running in central Florida has become an annual event as my parents have a house there (yup, I know I’m really lucky!). I head out there for a holiday every year not to visit Mickey Mouse, but to relax and recharge in the sun. And since both my husband and my dad are also Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 18.06.36runners, it’s natural that running would creep into our trip!

In fact, going for a run is one of the things I enjoy most during my holiday. At home I usually have to run in the evening after work, but when I’m away I like to get up early and run before the heat builds up. Running around the streets where we stay when they’re peaceful and it just feels like the world is waking up is such a good way to start the day. The temperature is a bit different to Scotland which can make a run seem harder than usual, but when I get home again all that “heat training” can make my regular runs feel so much easier 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 18.06.45(Early morning before a race at the National Training Centre in Clermont)

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Waterpark, Clermont

Although the main race season in Florida is during the winter months when the weather is a bit cooler, there are still plenty of options for those looking for a more organized run. There’s probably a 5k race happening somewhere in the state just about every weekend (we normally mange to drum up a couple while we’re there) and there’s even a parkrun in Clermont so parkrun tourists can still get their fix. I’ve not yet had a Floridian parkrun experience, but I have run a 5k race which takes in a pretty similar route, and I can recommend the beautiful lakeside location.

An interesting thing is that while I would NEVER win a prize at a race in Scotland, I’ve regularly found myself placing in my age category when racing in Florida, possibly because the categories cover narrower age brackets – this summer I even found myself finishing as second female overall in a race which was a massive surprise!

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Those travelling from cooler climes (such as the UK) definitely need to be aware of the impact of the weather on their running, especially in the summer. It WILL be hot, and this will make it harder to run at your normal pace. You’ll also sweat much more so it’s important to make sure you keep well hydrated, and consider carrying a drink even on shorter runs unless you’re well acclimatized. Think about what you’re going to wear too – no need for long tights or thick tops in July! If you head out for a run on the road, remember that traffic will be on the opposite side of the road from in the UK, so make sure you pay attention and check twice before crossing roads. Oh, and watch out for the wildlife! I’ve never run in an area where I would be likely to see a gator (although never say never!) but it’s not unusual to spot a crane or perhaps an armadillo!

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Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 18.07.21If you do get the chance to visit Florida, I would definitely recommend looking out for a race to run. I’ve always found other runners to be really friendly (oddly enough, I’ve regularly met runners wearing vests from Scottish clubs out there) and it’s great fun seeing some of the differences between racing in the UK and racing at home: don’t be surprised if the national anthem is played before the race begins, expect an ENORMOUS medal (even for a 5k) and if you’re really lucky there will be an amazing post-race spread – I’ve even had barbecue and beer at 8am after a 5k! Now that has to be worth the early start!

 

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Huge thank you to Alison for sharing her story with us 🙂

Till next time with other exotic (and not) running destination!!

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Any one who has a running story from ANYWHERE in the world that would like to be part of these series is welcome!! Shoot me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or send me a tweet or a Facebook or an Instagram message! Also if you would like to connect with other runners from all over the world you can join our -open to all- Facebook group 😀

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RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD #3 – Greece

Hi friends 😀

I am beyond excited to share with you today my “Running around the world” series post #3! I am so so happy with how much everyone liked these series!! It was an idea in my head for so long and i am so excited to finally be able to see it happening! (Many many thanks to my favourite ever blogger Carly from Fine Fit Day for all her advise on how to make this a reality :D)

This time we are traveling to a very special place, my home country Greece, and I am sharing a story of a very good friend of mine that I have known since I was a little kid… Our parents are from the same place (a little village around 3.5hrs away from Athens called Krokilio) and we both used to spent every summer there! – fyi I did want to put up a picture of us as kids but i don’t think he’d forgive me for that 😛 😉 LOL!

  • Today we are travelling to my home country!

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So, without anymore delays (and lengthy introductions even though you know how much I like them…)! Here is Dimitris’s story!

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My name is Dimitris Zografos,I am 26 years old and I live in Athens, Greece. Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 15.38.35I am a field hockey player, a sport that I love but is not very popular in my country. Even though I was always heavier than average, that never stopped me from doing what I truly love, which is playing field hockey. Being part of the same team and playing the same sport for all these years I developed one goal, to become even better at it! To be the best I can! What motivated me was the fact that my team (Zeus Chalandriou) would be taking part in one of the biggest European meetings for field hockey that took place in Athens in 2013. My goal was not only to be part of it but to also change myself and become healthier and more fit.

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Within 3 months, following a strict meal plan and serious exercising, and through a lot of hard work I finally manage to drop all of my excess weight. In the beginning of my journey I was 115kg (253.5 lbs) and when the time came for my team and I to compete I was down to 85kg (187.3 lbs). After seeing those changes in me and realising my mind’s and body’s abilities, my entire mind-set changed completely! My thoughts and dreams became my goals through a lot of work and sheer determination. This is when I decided to include running into my life. I was already in a good fitness state due to field hockey, so I started incorporating runs around 5-6km long into my everyday routine. Then after a while I felt more confident and I increased the distance to 9-10km 2-3 times a week. This is how by 2014 I was in the best shape of my life! I was 79 kg (174.2 lbs) with 11.8 % body fat.

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All the things I mentioned above, along with some encouragement from my friends was more than enough to motivate me to run the Athens marathon in 2014! Unfortunately, due to an injury in my right knee and hamstrings and also the fact that I was completely inexperienced in running long distances, my finishing time was 4 hours and 46 minutes. But this was not the end for me! I entered again next year and I did much better… My finishing time was 4 hours and 20 minutes in the marathon distance and 1 hour and 40 minutes in the half marathon distance.

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My personal opinion is that running is not just a form of exercising, or a way to lose weight. Running is a way of life. And everyone evolves differently through it, and not everyone would like running after trying it. I am one of the people that running didn’t only changed my body but also my way of thinking and my way of living. I believe that once you become part of this “culture” is very hard to let go and quit… You ‘ll always want to push your limits and become better and better!

So don’t forget, Greece is where it all started! This is where the idea of the marathon was born! That being said there are so many places to run in Athens (especially the amazingly beautiful and historic city centre), Greece 🙂

  • The national garden
  • The Zappeion Park

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  • The pedestrian street from the beggining of syngrou avenue (apostolou pavlou) to thission (dionisiou aeropagitou) about 2 kilometres and back walking up philopappou hill which is quite difficutl 🙂
  • And last but not least of course … around the Acropolis

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  • And finally if you are feeling adventurous you can always go in the north part of the city or the outskirts and run part of the Authentic marathon route! 😉

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Thank you so much Dimitris for sharing your story with us!

If you are looking forward for more “all around the world running” stay tuned to my series every other Tuesday 😀 For anyone who wants to share their story, from their part of the world shout me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or make sure you follow me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook and give me a shout there😀

Have an awesome day everyone!! And don’t forget… GET OUT THERE AND RUN!

RUNNING AROUND THE WORLD #2 – Australia

Hi everyone 😀

So excited to share with you today my “Running around the world” series post #2 😀 No idea what i am talking about? Check it out here. Today we are travelling literally to the other end of the world!! Before we get there I just wanted to say a HUGE thank yo to everyone who wanted to be part of this worldwide round up, your responses made me so happy!

  • So where are we travelling today???

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Everyone, meet Emma from Melbourne, Australia! She will share all about running in Melbourne with us 😀

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My name is Emma and I am 25 years old and have lived in Melbourne Australia my whole life. I work as a clinical Dietitian in an acute hospital providing nutrition education to patients with a range of clinical conditions. I have always been an athlete but my main sport growing up was swimming and Surf Life Saving. Surf life Saving is an iconic Australian sport, which involves ocean swimming, board paddling and surf ski paddling. When I was growing up I always did a little bit of running as some cross training for my other sports and to help make up the school cross-country team. When I was 20 years old I joined my first running group. This group is made up of runners of all ages, all abilities and those training for all different kinds of events. Some are training for track racing and others for Ironman triathlons. The coach is Anthony DeCastella and his brother Rob DeCastella is one of Australia’s all time best marathon runners!

Photos: Above Left: a photo when I used to do Surf Life Saving. Top Right: view from Xavier College Oval. Bottom right: Ferny Creek trail.

Over recent years I have been running fairly consistently and have entered into a number of big running events including four half marathons, Victorian cross country races and even tried my hand on the track. This year I am putting all my focus in to training for my first marathon, which will be the Melbourne marathon on October 16th.

The things that I love about running the most are the wonderful friends and group of people the I train with, the amazing sights you can see that you wouldn’t if you weren’t out running, plenty of post run coffee and breakfasts and the sense of accomplishment after finishing a tough training run or race. But the one thing that I absolutely love most about running is that post run runners high!

One of the things I dislike about running is the constant battle to avoid injury. The amount of time you have to put in to injury prevention – strength work, stretching, massage and ice baths ends up taking up nearly as much time as running time itself. Coming from a relatively low impact sporting background I could always get away with not putting as much time into these small things. Not sure whether that is a good thing or not! The only other thing that I dislike about running is running in the dark. But unfortunately this is inevitable at times in winter when working full time. It is however always made much easier when running with other people.

Photos: Above Left: a photo of Aami Park (Soccer stadium) from Olympic Park running track. Above Right: part of The Tan track.

Living in Melbourne I have sought out some of the best running tracks and trails. A typical training week for me sees me running at about 4-5 different locations. When running from home I am lucky that there is a bike path about 500m from where I live that goes for more 30km. This path goes along a freeway and I often run different lengths of the path depending on the distance I am planning on going. My first group session for the week is usually held on a high school oval (Xavier College). The grounds of the school are beautiful and we do our fartlek or speed training around the ovals.

Thursday night training for me is held at one of Melbourne’s most iconic running locations

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View of Yarra river when running along the Tan

– The Tan. The Tan is about a 3.85km track around Melbourne’s botanical gardens. Running this track you run past the Shrine of Remembrance, along the Yarra River and up Anderson street hill – not fun! There is always heaps of people running around The Tan and it is also well it up at night which is handy. My Sunday long run is usually held at two different locations – either Yarra Flats, which starts in Eaglemont or up in The Dandenong Ranges at Ferny Creek. Ferny creek is my absolute favourite place to run. It is about a 45minute drive from Melbourne up in to the mountains but it is well worth the drive. Up there I run through the forest nearly all the way and up and down long steep hills, which really give the legs a good workout.

 

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Ferny Creek

For any running travellers out there that are looking to come to Melbourne and hit up the tracks I believe The Tan and Ferny Creek to be the spots to head to. The advice that I would give to runners coming to Melbourne would be to be aware that we drive on the LEFT side of the road, so always look both ways when crossing roads. My other key recommendation is to always plan for a brunch date afterwards. Melbourne has the most amazing cafes and what better time to enjoy a brunch feast that after a hard run. My favourite Melbourne cafes are Top Paddock in Richmond, Wide Open Road in Fitzroy, Mr. Hendricks in Balwyn and The Piggery in Sherbrooke Forest. Lastly, if anyone ever is in Melbourne please don’t hesitate to message me on Instagram – @irunmelbourne to meet up for a running tour of Melbourne!

Photos: Right: Top Paddock breakfast. Left: Wide Open Road breakfast.

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Thank you so much Emma for sharing this with us 😀

If you are looking forward for more “all around the world running” stay tuned to my series every other Tuesday 😀 For anyone who wants to share their story, from their part of the world shoot me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or make sure you follow me on InstagramTwitter and Facebook and give me a shout there 😀

Have an awesome day everyone!! And don’t forget… GET OUT THERE AND RUN!

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“Running around the world series” – NORTH POLE MARATHON!

Hi friends 🙂

I hope everyone is having a great week so far! I am so excited today…!! Because today is the day where I get to share with you my new blog series “Running around the world”!

The inspiration for these series came to me from all my travels! I ‘ve had the amazing opportunity to run in so many different places around the world and the differences are so striking… to aspects that some times we – runners – not even think about. Also wouldn’t it be great to go on holidays somewhere and already know where to run or what the proper running  etiquette of this place is?? That could happen through these series!!

And to kick off these series on a high note, our first “Running around the world” post could be nothing else but the coldest marathon on earth! The NORTH POLE MARATHON story comes to you from the first Greek contester to run and complete the race – Zacharias Daniilakis!!

  • Where are we travelling today?

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So here is his story 😀

I had the honor and joy not only to participate in the coldest marathon in the world, but also to be the first Greek runner to take part in this race since its conception.

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The North Pole Marathon course is atop the frozen sea, with the temperature fluctuating between -25 to -35 degrees Celsius (-15 to -30F). It isn’t a point to point race. For safety reasons the course is a loop about 4 or 5 km long, with suggested stops after each loop to get checked out in the medical tent, which also doubles as a holding spot for our energy drinks and anything else we might need during the race. Oh, and there are snipers posted around the perimeter, in case a Polar Bear decides to drop by to see what all the commotion is about.

On the competition side of things, your biggest challenge obviously isn’t  the clock, but the weather. The more you can adapt to the freezing cold during the race the better you’ll do. You can control and skip some pit stops, but not ignore them altogether. You have to warm up, avoid frostbites, change your thermals and of course refuel with snacks and energy drinks, which you can not carry on you cause they will freeze! The organizers suggest that athletes take stops every loop both for replenishing their energy and for safety reasons. Personally I believe that the winner will always be the one to judge perfectly the amount of stops they need, threading the fine balance of risk vs time.

The medical personnel keeps a close eye on all the runners during the race, and they won’t let you get back out if they judge that its not safe at your current condition, not till you regain your bodily balance. Frostbites are a common occurrence, but the real danger is hypothermia. Don’t forget that the race takes place at the planet’s most remote spot, and the closest hospital is a long and dangerous way away. The experience of the organizers is invaluable, not only taking all the conceivable precautions but going to great lengths to explain the danger of that endeavor, but ultimately its up to every participant to judge the risk they are willing to take.

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In order to prepare, I trained under my coach Nikos Dimitriadis. The schedule was three to four runs a week, one of which was a long training session in the Greek mountains with the MyAthlete team. The challenges I faced during the race were relatively low. After the 23rd km I had small frostbites on my cheeks and the doctors had me wait for about 15 minutes till my color returned to normal. Same thing happened at the 28th and at the next stop I had to change my thermal layers since my sweat had frozen and it felt like I had a block of ice wrapped around my body. I could feel the cold numbing me and I didn’t want to risk hypothermia. Closing on the 38th km I realized that the same thing had happened to my shocks. My toes were freezing but I only had 4 km to go and I didn’t want to lose more time. In the end I made it through with just a small frostbite on my toes.

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I’d gladly take part again, this time better prepared thanks to my experience. I want to wish to everyone good health, inner strength and thirst for adventure that are the seasoning of our life.

–> Q&A with Zacharias 🙂

Q: How did you get all the way to North Pole?

A: Athens – Copenhagen – Oslo – Svalbard – North Pole.

Q: What about accommodation arrangements?

A: At Svalbard you can stay at various Hotels , in North pole you stay at the Barneo camp at specific tents but this is only for 2/3 days .

Q: Did you have sponsors ?

A: I believe that ultimately fulfills us is reaching for our goals, things we want to achieve. It is something I’m doing for myself, and in my view not something that I need a sponsor for, or reason enough to seek one. And from that view point it doesn’t seem morally right: It’s like wanting to go to the Cinema, the Theater or just out for a night dancing to have the time of your life and seek a sponsor to cover your expenses. It is something I do for me, for my pleasure, my fulfillment and I don’t want someone else to pay for it.

Q: Any advice for runners that would like to try it?

A: Train well , decide it, believe in, it dedicate your self and go for it. Every second of it it’s worthy it!!

I hope you guys enjoyed reading about running in North pole as much as I did! It is a jaw-dropping story isn’t it??

Till next time with other exotic (and not) running destination!!

Any one who has a running story from ANYWHERE in the world that would like to be part of these series is welcome!! Shoot me an email to taleoftworuns@gmail.com or send me a tweet or a Facebook or an Instagram message!

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