My Disney Book

A book that I’ve been working on for some time has recently been published. This blog post is for the most part, a shameless plug of that book, but I will try to shoehorn this post into the general health and fitness theme of my blog.

The book in question is “The Story of Disneyland Paris”, and rather than dwell too much on what the book is obviously about, you can just click here to find it on Amazon.

I set myself the goal of writing a book, a goal that I imagine is on many a bucket list. In my head I envisioned myself being the next J.K Rowling or George R.R Martin and creating entire fictional universes. The problem is, I don’t read a lot of fiction, and I had no ideas. Then a simple thought, “write the book I’d like to read” – and thats where the history and continuing story of Disneyland Paris came from, it’s the book I’ve always wanted to read, since I first went looking for it in 2010 to help with my M.Sc thesis.

It took a year and half for me to write this book. I worked on it nearly every day. I did miss a few days, maybe Christmas Day, or if I was at a wedding, but for the most part, I worked on this project every single day, for a year and a half. Consistency is key. I didn’t necessarily work for hours everyday, sometimes it was as little as 15mins of either reading, writing, editing or researching, but the point was it was done, progressing word by word, not chapter by chapter.

Writing the book also proved an enjoyable past time, I wouldn’t describe it as work. “Working” on this book reminded me of this quote from James Michener:

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure…..He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both”

I wouldn’t describe myself as a “master in the art of living”. People can usually tell if I’m working or playing, but its an admirable goal and to some extent writing the book fit the quote. “Are you working this evening?” my wife would ask when I opened my laptop in the evenings, “er, yes, no, I’m not sure, sort of.”

I did a small bit of research into publishing at the beginning but I ditched that pretty quickly, as getting published sounded impossible. I wanted to write the book so I’d write it, even if it was just for my own amusement for an audience of one. And during the process, I read a few books from a small independent publisher called Theme Park Press who I thought might be interested in what I’d written. They were interested and they published it, but they were never the goal, just a happy by-product of the process itself.

Now, to take what I’ve learned from the book writing experience and shoehorn it into my health and fitness blog, here are the key learnings:

Consistency

  • If you want to lose weight, add muscle, increase flexibility, write a book, whatever, it can only be achieved by consistency, there is no quick fix.
  • Commitment to your goal. If you get on a streak, like 10-20 days of consistent work, that creates a desire to keep the streak going, until eventually, it becomes habit.
  • Think about the things you’ve not been able to do and ask yourself if you’ve really tried. For example, I’ve always said I’m not flexible, but have I worked on flexibility every day for a year and half, nope. So theres your answer.

Concentrate on the journey, not the goal

Enjoy the process, the rewards will come by themselves.

Have a pastime

Pastimes are good for mental health. Exercise is my pastime. For a time so was the book. Pastimes that require a high level of concentration (so not TV) have therapeutic effects because they limit anxious self-reflection. Consciously living in the moment reduces stress.

You’ll not see me and my book on any bestsellers list, the book is not likely to appear in any bookstore (just Amazon), its a quick read and if you do read it, it will be clear this is my first rodeo, but its a major tick off my bucket list and has me wondering about what else I might be able to achieve if I give it enough attention. Now, get working on your own bucket list, and enjoy!

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The unboxing
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I’m at the height of coolness, a proper millennial working on my masterpiece in Starbucks
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And there she is

 

 

Race Review: RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts

During the summer I ran the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts. The RunDisney events are great races, but because I don’t live in California, Florida, or France, they are expensive to get to, and usually involve the planning of a holiday around the race date. Previously I’ve taken part in the 2016 RunDisney Paris half-marathon as well as the 2012 and 2014 Walt Disney World half-marathons.

The RunDisney Virtual Shorts event consists of three 5k races, one in June, one in July, and one in August. Registration is done online and you pick your own date and location to complete your 5k races. So you don’t need to travel at all if you don’t want to. Race Bibs can be printed online, and once you complete your race, you can enter your times online to get your finisher certificate. Finisher Medals are sent out in the post. You can sign up for as many or as few of the races as you want, but you get a bonus “Series” medal if you run all three races. Everything is done on the honor system.

The whole process is very easy, from sign up, to printing bibs and certs, to getting the medals delivered. Typical Disney efficiency. No doubt Disney make money from this but its a great initiative all the same. Its a great way to motivate people to get active over the summer. I had fun picking locations and routes.

Without a fixed race date it is easy to let the race slip. I ran the August race in September because I, and my fellow runners, had difficultly finding a date that suited everyone. This isn’t ideal but sometimes life gets in the way. Other than the August run slipping into September everything went well and I enjoyed the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts. I would do it again, and I’d recommend it if you and your friends / family are looking for an excuse to have an active Summer 2018. Getting fit and active with a bit of Disney motivation.

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June Run
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July Run
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August (aka September) Run
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Medals!!

Disneyland Paris Race Review

On Sunday the 25th of September I ran the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. I can’t review the race without mentioning the theme parks. I’m sure local people can participate in this race without visiting Disneyland, but for me, part of the joy of this race is combining it with a long weekend visit to Disneyland Paris, Disney Studios, and Disney Village. This is a race review, but needless to say, I had a great time in the parks, on the rides, in the restaurants, shops, and everywhere else.

The race itself was easy to sign up for online. To complete the registration I needed a doctors cert saying I was healthy enough to run, which was a first for me but apparently its pretty standard for France. Race bibs and commemorative shirts were available for collection throughout the weekend at the RunDisney Health Expo. From sign up to bib collection is was a smooth operation. Security on race day was tight, bag and people scanners, like those at an airport, had to be passed through to get to the starting line. The race was due to start at 7am but there was a 10 minute delay “for our security”. The beginning of the race brought us through Disney Studios, followed by Disneyland, which combined took about 30minutes, and then onwards to the French countryside and nearby towns until we made our way back through Disney Village and the finish line.

The parks are fun to run through, the course is flat, lots of Disney character photo points, and once outside the parks there are bands playing music spread every few kilometers for entertainment and lots of water stations. I ran the race in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 43 seconds, finishing 2,240th out of roughly 11,000 runners. My only complaint after this amazing weekend is that there was no notifications from Disney about race times and no information about when photos will be released, not on the official race website, or the RunDisney facebook page, and no response to the many runners who posted requesting information. Disney finally posted the results on the 29th, 4 days after the event. Overall, this is a great race and one I hope I can do again sometime in the future.

Below is a 4 minute video of some the best bits.

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One of the best things you can do when exercising is, “have fun with it”.

For me, I could think of no better way to “have fun with it” than to take part in a runDisney event, “where every mile is magic” – as Disney say.

The runDisney events take place in the Disney theme parks. I’ve done two runDisney half-marathons so far, one in 2012, and more recently in 2014. As per everything Disney theme park related, the runDisney events are organised down to the last detail. It race starts on time, with every runner in the correct place relative to their finishing times, and you finish before the parks open. There is road side entertainment and refreshments throughout, and the finishing area has food and buses to take you home. You’ll not find a better organised event.

Running down mainstreet toward Cinderella's castle
Running down mainstreet toward Cinderella’s castle

I took up running in 2012 in order to run the 2012 Walt Disney World Half Marathon because I saw it as a great way to combine my love of training with my love of Disneyland. The runDisney spokesman, trainer, and former US Olympian Jeff Galloway has very useful training guides to make sure you peak on race day and finish the race in an up right position, and still have the energy to tackle a day in the theme parks. His training programmes consist of three runs per week. Two 30 minute runs during the working week, and a gradually increasing distance run at the weekend.

Me and runDisney spokesman and US Olympian Jeff Galloway
Me and runDisney spokesman and US Olympian Jeff Galloway

I’m not suggesting that everyone sign up for a runDisney event. I’ve built two great holidays around runDisney races but it might not be for everyone. I suggest that you find something that you love, and try to incorporate it into your exercise routine, even just once in a while, it will help to keep you interested. As for me, I have an ever expanding catalog of runDisney events to choose from. As soon as I find the time and money, I’ll be back.

Donald Duck medal, doesn't get much better.
Donald Duck medal, doesn’t get much better.

 

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