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iTAB Star, Feb 2023

Aime Perrin from Hertfordshire, UK.

“There are competitive runners but everyone’s there for the experience. And that whole weekend just solidified the fact that I was like okay, I really want to come back and do this again.”

For Aime Perrin a family trip to Disneyland and the discovery of the runDisney events sparked a new passion that has seen her go from Couch to 5K to completing the 50-mile Dopey Challenge, and the London Marathon.

‘I was a Couch to 5K runner in the summer of 2017, and then by January 2020 I’ve completed the runDisney Dopey Challenge where on the first day you run a 5k, on the Friday you run a 10k, on Saturday you run a half marathon, and then on the Sunday you run a full marathon.’

Aime, on her running journey.

Hey Aime!

Hey iTAB!

Why do you run?

I run because it’s the only time I have for myself. I’m a very busy mom. I work and I find the time that I run is the only time that I’m alone. I’m alone with my thoughts. I’m alone with myself. I can reflect on the past, I can reflect on the day, and it’s the one time I can actually really be me and who I truly am.

Best thing about running?

Running makes me feel really good. It gets me outdoors, and I enjoy having the time spending with the people from my running club and the chance to see my best friend every week. I like just being out and just shaking off the day, and having that time to debrief, and if I am on my own just having the opportunity just to listen to my music. It gets the endorphins going, and I always feel really good after.

How did your running journey start?

I used to play a lot of sport when I was at school and at university, and when I left and started working I found I was just going to the gym a lot, and I wanted to do something outdoors. And so I thought I’ll try a Couch to 5K and that’s where it started. So started I started doing Couch to 5K, and then went away for a weekend in Paris at Disneyland, and saw the runDisney races and I thought oh yeah, I think that’s something I’d like to sign up to. So I signed up for the year after and I haven’t looked back since.

Do you run for a cause?

I signed up to do the London Marathon for 2022 And I signed up to run with Versus Arthritis. Back in May 2020, during the pandemic, I was diagnosed with an inflammatory arthritis, and the London Marathon was something I’d always wanted to do even before I really got into running. I sent in my application, and they accepted it, so I ran and raise money for versus arthritis.

How does inflammatory arthritis affect your running?

Fortunately, it doesn’t affect my lower body. It affects my hands up to my wrists. So, for me, it doesn’t really impact my running too much. Sometimes when it’s particularly hot, I do find that my hands will swell up or if it’s really cold, they’ll swell up. If I’ve had a cold that can set things off and it can flare up. Obviously, with just the impact of running through your body, it can irritate them and I sometimes, like most runners, you might find you end up clenching your fists and your hands up a bit to relax them up. But overall, I do feel quite fortunate that it’s only affected my hands, so it doesn’t really affect my running ability.

Greatest running achievement?

I would say my greatest running achievement was the Dopey Challenge in Florida, Walt Disney World. It’s a challenge where on the first day you run a 5k, on the Friday you run a 10k, on Saturday you run a half marathon and then on the Sunday you run a full marathon. So, I started running in about 2017, and I did that in the January 2020. So, I was sort of a ‘Couch to 5k’ runner in the summer of 2017, and then by January 2020 I’ve completed this challenge of all those four races. So that was a huge achievement, and being in another country and the different weather. I was really, really pleased with that.

Where does your passion for runDisney events come from?

As a kid growing up, I was lucky and fortunate that we got to go to Disney a lot. Obviously as I got older, we went less and less and then we went on a family trip in June 2017 and reignited that a bit, and I then found out about the runDisney races and the whole community that comes with that. It’s quite special. My mum travelled with me, and she did the 10k with me. That was lovely that we got to experience it together, and she came to cheer for me during the marathon. Other than that, I didn’t know anyone, I just sort of recognised a few people from the Instagram pages and the Facebook groups, but I was a bit too shy to approach people. During the pandemic, everyone was trying to keep each other going, and keep each other running, and by not having the race people were trying to keep that community together. But when I go back for the races next time I’ll be able to meet up with these people now.

Have you always run with your mum?

So, when I started doing my ‘Couch to 5k’ one of the things that we then started doing after that was going to the parkrun together. We don’t always run together. Again, going back to the Disney runs, I dragged my mum and my dad along with me so we ran the again in Paris – they do a 5k, 10k and a half marathon and you can either sign up for all of them or just do part of it. So, me and my mom ran the 5k together, and then they were my cheer squad for the rest of it. And then the following year, we all ran the 5k, me, my mum and my dad as Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Alice, so it’s a really great memory to have.

‘I have never cried during a race, or at a finish line or anything and I don’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw them, I could feel myself welling up, I think I was just so happy to see them amongst all these other people.’

Aime, on seeing her parents during the London Marathon.

How was your London Marathon experience? 

The London Marathon experience was a range of emotions, and I was shocked when I found out that I got a place with the charity just because of years and years of trying, and never getting in, it was amazing. I feel quite fortunate that it was in October because I got to train through the summer. So that for me, made things a lot easier with the lighter nights and the warmer weather, there was also a couple of people from my running club running it, so I had a lot of people to run with and that sort of motivation. And the actual day went by in a blur. I got to see people from my running club, and my cousin also ran so we got to meet up before the start. It was really lovely to catch up and go through the panic mode together.

The London Marathon crowd is so loud, and they were everywhere. Running for the charity as well, it was really good to have them along the course, it was quite emotional seeing them and having their support. My mum and dad and my best friend were also there, and seeing them was just the burst of energy that I needed to keep me going on. I saw them at just after 13 miles, so it was just after coming over Tower Bridge. That in itself was quite emotional because it was overwhelmingly loud, there’s people calling your name and you just sort of don’t know where to look, but I knew that they were going to be around the corner from there. I was feeling pretty good at that point, I wasn’t feeling too tired, I was just sort of on the adrenaline rush from the day. I have never cried during a race, or at a finish line or anything and I don’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw them, I could feel myself welling up, I think I was just so happy to see them amongst all these other people. And my best friend was wearing a t-shirt that had my charity on it and a few pictures from other races I’ve done. I think it was just because my best friend had been running with me throughout the summer so I knew she knew how important it was for me as well. She’d been through some of that training and obviously my mum and dad were helping me with my fundraising, as was my best friend. So, I think it just all come together in that moment, I was just overcome with emotion.

How did it feel crossing the finish line?

I think it was quite sad in a way because it’s like all of that training and then you’ve just crossed that finish line, and then it just ends, but I think by that point it was hot, and I was tired and was ready to finish. So, when I got over that finish line I was like ‘I’ve done it’, I’ve done the London Marathon, and I was just so happy!

What is it about running in an official event that’s so special?

I was quite spoilt, because my first event was the Disneyland Paris races, so it was the atmosphere. There are people dressed up and no one’s really taking it seriously. There are competitive runners but everyone’s there for the experience. And that whole weekend just solidified the fact that I was like okay, I really want to come back and do this again. And I had never done any other races. It wasn’t till sort of I got into my running club that I started to go to some more local races. It’s just that community of people doing something else that you enjoy, and being around those people doing the thing that you love to do. It’s not the competitive element for me. The more I run, the more competitive with myself I’ve got to try and improve myself as a runner, but for me, it’s just being around that atmosphere, and having that buzz afterwards that you’ve accomplished it when you finish the cross the finish line.

Which running club are you part of?

My running club is Broxbourne Runners and I’ve been with them for about a year and a half. I moved into the area last April, so I was quite nervous of going somewhere by myself and not knowing anyone, but they welcomed me with open arms. Everyone was so friendly. I don’t think I would have been as successful in the London Marathon if it hadn’t been for the running club, not just with the training sessions that we do, but also that camaraderie. Having someone you know saying ‘right, we’re getting up to go for a run’ at 7am on a Sunday and we all run together. It was essential for that, and it was amazing to have them.

What keeps you motivated?

I don’t tend to do a lot of races so if I do have something booked in then that helps me to get that motivation to get up and go out for that training run. As an example, I went out on Thursday, I didn’t particularly want to because it’s been a long day at work. I was quite tired, and I thought okay, just go, just do it. When I got back I was so glad I’d been, and that I got out in the fresh air. I wasn’t actually tired, I’d just been indoors all day. So, it’s just remembering how you feel after you’ve been for a run. That definitely is the motivator, sometimes the thought of going is worse than doing the run itself.

Advice for first-time runners?

I would say just give it a try. You don’t know unless you try. Maybe start with something like ‘Couch to 5k’ and get a good playlist together. It coaches you through it over those weeks. I understand that it can be intimidating so maybe go to something like a parkrun where there’s everyone from your fast runner out front to your tail walkers. No one ever finishes last. Maybe go along with a tail walker just to see what it’s like and get that experience. I think it’s just something where you need to just bite the bullet and go, and you never know until you try and you might find that you really, really love it.

How important is the medal?

They have a high standard of medals and the Disney ones so it’s nice to get a nice medal. My favourite one is my half marathon medal for my first half marathon, which happens to be a Disney one, from 2018. I obviously like from a standpoint of it being my first half marathon, and that was the longest distance I had done to that point, and so that was an achievement in itself. For me, it’s a really cool medal.

What made you buy an iTAB?

I was really pleased with the achievement of the London Marathon, and I wanted to commemorate that time. I didn’t want to ruin or tarnish the medal by getting it engraved and so I got the iTAB for the ribbon that is always with that medal.

Thanks Aime, you’re a star!

If you want to follow in Aime’s footsteps, here are some of the events she has completed:

runDisney Walt Disney Marathon Weekend

runDisney Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

runDisney Paris

London Marathon