A parkrun in the rain, getting cold and finally using our fire!

On Saturday I met Dad at Ellenbrook for parkrun. It was pretty miserable weather- only about 5 degrees and raining, so I sat in the car for a bit before finally braving it. Dad had driven (he often cycles but not surprisingly didn’t fancy it)- I was heading to theirs for breakfast after, so I told him not to wait but we ended up running together. I’d worn a visor to try and keep my glasses dry, but the rain was too hard. I didn’t even spot my friend Elaine (she was marshaling) until we called out “thanks” and she said “hello”- I recognised her voice but couldn’t see properly!

Flying feet! It was slippery and very muddy in places, although the worst part (the “water feature”- a muddy track that is under water for a good 10 metres) has been filled with sand so it wasn’t so bad any more. Also, the cows were standing up. I thought cows sat down in the rain? Or is it when it is about to rain??  I had worn gloves and took them off after around a mile (my hands tend to warm up fairly quickly)- I did offer them to Dad as he had forgotten his and he really feels the cold, but apparently he wasn’t keen on wearing the flouro pink ones!

Anyway, an enjoyable run, finishing in 27.44 and 1st in my age cat! That doesn’t normally happen (I think the rest of the people stayed at home in the dry!).

Our lovely tree is still so colourful- not tan lines but mud lines! And watching the rain from my car…

I’d packed jogging bottoms and a jumper, so after driving to my parents I changed- I wished I had packed a proper change of clothes though as then I could have had a shower- not sure why I didn’t. I had to spend ages wiping the mud off my legs- I thought I just had some splashes but actually it was a proper coating! We then had breakfast (pancakes of course)- my sister came around with her husband and baby, my brother was there, and Andy joined us later, so it was lovely to all catch up.

Mum lent me these slippers (from one of their hotels in China) so at least my feet were warm!

In the afternoon we walked into town and I made some caramel shortbread for Sunday. Then after dinner we went to the cinema to see The Florida Project, which was really good. It’s set in the shadow of Disney World, following a child and her friends- they all live in motels and so it does show the struggle that the parents go through, but the children were brilliant and it was very uplifting at times too.

On Sunday I didn’t set an alarm and didn’t even wake up until 8.45! Crazy! I headed on a run- I ended up doing 10 miles. I’d worn a top and jacket, thinking I’d take the jacket off after a bit and tie it around my waist, but in fact every time I considered it, the wind would blow more and make me feel chilly, so I kept it on the whole time.

This is my “I wish I had worn a buff” face- my skin gets so sore and it looked like I had sunburn when I got home as the skin on my neck and chest was so red and itchy.

After a shower it was time for breakfast- on Friday I had been into town (for a massage) and so I had of course had to go to Gail’s (an amazing bakery). I usually go for the chocolate almond croissants, but they had a sour cherry and pistachio croissant so I got one of each (plus a scone for another time).

I warmed them in the oven while I made the tea (Bluebird Bonfire Toffee tea) and then we had half of each. Mmmm, so good.

We then walked the long way to town (about 3 miles) and I had this tasty smoothie when I got home to give me a bit of a boost to power through some work.

We had tea at Andy’s parents and then when we got home, it was finally time to use the log burner! We had it fitted in the summer but of course we needed to wait for a cold day to actually use it.

It was so cosy, and after getting so cold at parkrun, on my run and on the walks to town it was lovely to relax and feel warm- the perfect end to the weekend.

Do you have a different breakfast at the weekends? I’ll happily have porridge every week day in the winter and muesli in the summer, but I will often have something different at the weekend to make it more of an occasion and a bit more relaxed. Are you wearing gloves on your runs now?

Brighton and Hove parkrun

I’ve done a couple of the parkruns in Brighton before (Hove prom twice, and Preston Park once). Andy (who is turning without being asked into my parkrun tourist planner- he found the hotel near Bushy, and that Andover parkrun was close to our hotel) noticed that Brighton and Hove parkrun is very close to Hove station, so we booked a hotel by Brighton station so it would be easy to get to.

We arrived on Friday night and to save me the stress of the ticket machine in the morning (honestly, why do small things like this make me so stressed? I usually prefer to go to a person because then I know it’s the right ticket…), I bought my tickets the night before (there was an option for “travel tomorrow”), so all I had to do in the morning was get dressed and walk around the corner to the train. I could have run there as it was only a couple of miles, but as we were only there for the day I didn’t want to get back too late. It was £2.80 return so not too bad (I have paid that sort of thing for parking at a parkrun in some places).

To be extra helpful (or because he knows I am not good at travel, who knows…) Andy had sent me a screen shot of the journey times to and from Hove station- I like to be there early so I got the 8.23 train which arrived in Hove at 8.26- nice and short.

Luckily I left the time because for some reason, even though I had looked at a map, I thought that the parkrun would be closer to the sea than the station, so I knew that as the sea was on my left, I had to head downhill (or left). I had maps out on my phone with the pin in the centre of the park, and I couldn’t work out why I was getting further away. After realising I was going the wrong way, I headed back up the hill to the station, but then the map wouldn’t spin around so left on the map was right in real life so I got confused again. It turned out that there was a pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks, and once I had done that, it was an easy run up the hill to the end of the road, left at the end and the park was in sight.

It was a bit damp, but the forecast rain hadn’t materialised yet. I could see a bunch of high viz people in the centre, so I headed over. It happened to be their 10th anniversary, so some people were dressed up. The RD called out for any new runners to head over to “the red vicar”- I think he was dressed as a cardinal? Anyway, the briefing was amusing (he checked we had our barcodes, then that we had the fiver for him….)- and then it was time for the run briefing. Now, usually everyone listens carefully during this, and I feel that not only is it polite to do so, but imperative, because sometimes there are changes to the course or safety information to share.  There were a lot of people there (461 runners), but I could not hear a word, so many people were talking. I was quite annoyed and found it really rude. The team give up their time so that people can enjoy a free and timed 5k, so the least you can do it be quiet for a few minutes during the briefing.  There were pacers and they waved their little flag things about- I was near the 30 minute one at the start (but again you couldn’t hear at all).

Once we started it was enjoyable- it sounds complicated but you start a little bit before the finish, doing one small lap and then two big laps. There is a little incline on each lap, but nothing too steep and then you have a nice long downhill at the end of each lap too.  I try to make a point of thanking each marshal as I run past- I really appreciate them giving up their time to marshal, and I know that when I have marshaled it is lovely having the runners show their appreciation. One of the things I love about parkrun is hearing the call of “thank you marshal” echoing through the park. But I did not hear a single thank you from anyone else. Do people not do that at every parkrun?

There were two ladies talking loudly at the start, and on the second lap I caught up with them- they were talking about a friend of theirs who does Good Gym, and one of them said “I’m too selfish to give up my time to dig up a garden” and I did think to myself “and too selfish to listen to the run briefing”…

Anyway, I enjoyed the run and I think on the first little lap I caught up with the 30 min pacer, and then on the second lap I caught up with the next one (I can’t remember the number though- 29 or 28 mins possibly). I managed to push the pace on the final lap, doing a nice negative split with 27.43 (9.13, 8.37, 8.33 and 7.21 for the little bit- not the easiest to do on not a flat course).  The best thing about lapped courses is that you get top 3 personal records on all the strava segments!

It had started to rain quite heavily on the final lap, so I didn’t hang around at all- I took a few photos on my run back to the station. I was about to miss a train, but it was delayed by a few minutes so I still managed to catch it. By 10 o’clock I was sat in Cafe Coho- there was a lovely hot cup of Earl grey tea waiting for me, and the pancakes weren’t far behind!

So another enjoyable Brighton parkrun (Bevendean Down parkrun is the one yet to visit, although that is a bit out of town so I am not sure I’d manage it without a car). I think probably Hove Prom is the easiest one for me to visit, but when it’s super windy it is nicer to head inland.

Have you collected any parkrun “sets?” Do you find train travel a bit stressful? I enjoy it once I am on the train, and I don’t mind if there are frequent trains so if I miss one it’s fine, but buying the correct ticket and getting to the right platform adds to the pressure a bit. Do people thank the marshals as they run past at your local parkruns?  Maybe it was too cold and rainy…

A quick recap and Brighton round 2!

Last week I was home too late on Tuesday to make it out to the club run in time, so I had a run on my own- usually this would be fine (and I wore my light for the first time- which meant getting ready took ages as I could not remember which way around the straps went)- but it was also Halloween so I was basically dodging kids (and teenagers who were way too old) all dressed up for most of the run – it made it hard work! There were so many houses decorated too- with that fake spider web stuff and the do not cross crime scene tape. I’m not a Halloween fan, but at least the trick or treaters seem to only go to the decorated houses now which seems better.

Happy once I had finally worked out how to put it on!

Yoga was cancelled for the first week back, and so I took the opportunity to head into town after work to pick up a free drink from Costa (not my coffee shop of choice, but the Three mobile app had another freebie so not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I went for it). It seems that all the shops had had a Christmas explosion (and some houses too-why????- I love Christmas but just for December please!).

On Thursday I had a nice 4 mile run, and then on Friday evening we got the train down to Brighton. We went a few weeks ago for the 10 mile race, but the restaurant we had booked had a power cut, so we decided to go down again.

As we were staying right by the station, on Saturday morning I got the train across to Hove, to run Brighton and Hove parkrun.

I’ll do a separate post about that as it was a new-to-me course. On the train on the way back I messaged Andy, who was in Cafe Coho, so he ordered breakfast. By the time I sat down the cup of tea was already there, and it didn’t take long for the pancakes to arrive.

Their pancakes are so good- they come with Greek yoghurt, berries and honey.  After going back to the hotel for a shower, we had a lovely walk along the seafront towards Hove. It was a bit rainy (it had rained hard on the final lap of the parkrun course) but luckily that didn’t last too long.

There were some huge waves and dramatic clouds (and some people on the beaches getting very close to the waves…). We wandered back to town and around the shops for a bit, and of course had to stop and get some cake. The place we had been to a few times (Catwalk cakes) has closed, so we found another cafe (there is no shortage  of cafes- you just need to find one with a seat!), and enjoyed sharing a slice of carrot cake.

After more of a walk (the sun sets so early now- that top right picture was at around 5pm) we headed to Food for Friends- thankfully no power cut this time!

After dinner we got the train back home, catching up on the film podcast and watching lots of fireworks.

On Sunday I had a short-ish run (for a Sunday- 6 miles) in the most beautiful autumnal weather.

We then headed into St Albans for breakfast, as we had to be there later for a family baptism, and wandered around the park (we even found the house that was on Grand Designs recently).

After the baptism, we were off to the cinema to see Murder on the Orient Express. I had heard some people say it wasn’t that great, but I really enjoyed  it. I’d not read the book so I didn’t know what happened, so maybe if you were comparing it to the book you might feel like some bits were missed out or different (I have no idea), but it was good fun I though. We were sat in front of some people that talked ALL THE WAY THROUGH! I kept turning around to try and work out who it was so I could shush them, but it was hard to see in the dark. It was so annoying though! I think that the film may attract a type of audience that does not visit the cinema that often…

This week has gone by in a flash- I missed the club run on Tuesday as I had an awful headache. I’d taken painkillers but after a 2 hour meeting and driving home it still hadn’t gone, so a short walk in the fresh air had to suffice. Yoga was back on Wednesday (hooray!)- we did a lot of work on hips including some partner squats- I need to remember these things for when I get back from a run as I do try to do some of them as stretches now. On Thursday I picked Mum and Dad up from Heathrow as they had been in China. I was really not looking forward to the M25 at rush hour, or navigating around the airport, so I was very pleased with myself when I managed it (I was telling myself “you are a thirty-something year old person, you should be able to drive to an airport…” but these things make me anxious still). Anyway it was lovely to find out how their holiday had been.

And here we are at Friday!  I don’t think I’ve been up to date with this blog since the summer!

Any plans for the weekend? Are people near you going Halloween crazy? Or have you seen any Christmas decorations? Which towns/places do you like to visit over and over?

A long run, and afternoon tea to recover!

After going to Castle Park parkrun last Saturday (and all the petrol panic that happened after) it was fairly late by the time I’d got home and showered. I needed to pop over to my brother’s and collect some plants (Mum had planted us some winter pansies in her greenhouse and they needed to be planted out), so I drove over there and had a little catch up with him. By the time I got home, it was time for lunch- soup and toasted sourdough.

We then had a long walk (about 4 miles) through town and via a launderette as we wanted to wash the winter duvet before putting it back on (although the cost of having it cleaned is more than a new one actually costs…). After some work in the garden (more leaf sweeping, and planting out the pansies) I did a bit of work at home and was treated to a gorgeous pink sky at sunset.

On Sunday I was up early (thanks to the clocks changing) as I needed to fit in a long run and we had cinema tickets booked for midday. I was going to go for 11, as I had a week off long runs the previous weekend, and didn’t know if I would manage one next weekend- I took some Clif shot blocks with me in case I needed a boost- I had a few after about 10 miles in the end as I felt a bit tired. It was a bit of a loopy run, going out and back on myself a bit as I kept an eye on the miles (and avoided the woods and the park where I last got bothered by dogs…)- in the end when I got home it was at around 11.5 miles so I ran around the block to make it up to 12- my longest run for this half marathon I think.

Once home it was time for a speedy shower and breakfast in front of some Bake Off (and a big cup of tea) before heading to see Breathe.

The film was brilliant (it tells the true story of a guy who contracted polio, and shows his battle to be able to live as full a life as possible instead of being confined to a hospital)- it was very emotional and the people in with us were not quiet- very loud sobbing at times! I took a cereal bar with me and got a drink to take in as I knew I would be hungry otherwise.

Then I was off for afternoon tea- a year or so ago I’d been to a local place (Brocket Hall) with some friends- the food was good (apart from my poor friend who had ordered gluten free food) but the service was terrible, so we had vouchers to go back there.

It was lovely to catch up with everyone (we all started teaching in the same school, but now most of them have moved to other schools so we don’t see each other as regularly) and the food was good, however the service was still poor (plus, if we didn’t have vouchers we would have had to pay in advance which is not very common and not that appealing)- I don’t think we’ll be back!

We did end up with a lot of food to take home though- the lemon tart and Battenberg cakes were particularly delicious!

I was a bit worried that after sitting down in the cinema my legs would be sore, but I was actually OK. I had worn my calf sleeves to the cinema (but not to afternoon tea as they showed through my tights!) and that helped a lot I think. I won’t be racing the half, but at least I know I will be OK at doing that many miles in one go, as I think the last time for me was April.

Do you like afternoon tea? I find it more relaxing than a meal out as it feels like you can take your time.

Fun and not so fun half term jobs (and another dog incident)

So last Wednesday (in half term) I headed out for a run first thing- it was all going well and I was enjoying the lovely autumnal day.

I was around a mile from home, running through a park when I saw a large group of women with dogs going through the middle. I watched them as I carried on running on the path, when three of the dogs noticed me and raced across the field towards me. I stood still, and two of them ran back, but the third (a big dog, a bit like a greyhound but more chunky) leapt up onto me- straightaway I shouted over “can you please call your dog” and one of the women started to call, but the dog carried on jumping- it had it’s paws on my hips and was sticking it’s nose into my back. I shouted at her again to come and get it if it wouldn’t come, but the thankfully it went back to her. I was really cross- it was a big dog and it could have knocked me over. I told her that she needed to keep it on a lead if she could not control it, and she kindly told me “I can’t be up it’s arse the whole time”- I think I was very calm when I pointed out to her that all the other dogs were off leads and under control, but hers wasn’t so she was being irresponsible.  None of the other women said anything but I hope that they told her that she was in the wrong (they were all walking in a big group so it looked like a sort of dog walking club or something). I totally understand that people are allowed to let their dogs off leads, and I know that dogs find people running exciting, but it’s not acceptable that a dog can jump up at someone twice and not be under control. The rest of my run was not good as I was feeling annoyed about it, and wishing I hadn’t gone into the park, and then being annoyed at myself for thinking that because (I don’t think…) the incident was not my fault. I’ve always been told to stand still (and tuck your hands in) if approached by a dog as they are more likely to chase and jump if you are moving, and so I don’t think I am being antagonistic or anything towards the dogs.

Anyway, after that it was a normal day of getting some work done, as well as clearing up the leaves that are just everywhere at the moment.

It doesn’t look that bad in the photo, but the leaves had collected all around the bottom of my car and went half way up the tyres. I also enjoyed looking at the flowers that are still going strong, even at this time of year.

The willow tree in our back garden is shedding leaves everywhere so I did a load of raking and sweeping, and managed to fill three bags with leaves (apparently it will make good compost), fill up one compost bin and also leave a big pile on the lawn to sort at the weekend.

On Thursday I had a short run before walking to the train station to go into London- Andy had a meeting so I was going to wander about a bit and then we’d have lunch together. In contrast to the lovely sunny weather of Wednesday, it was grey and damp and drizzly.

I wandered around Covent Garden, amused myself watching a lady do a rather inappropriate fake striptease to a load of parents and kids (she put up a screen and was throwing clothes over the top while singing “Big Spender”)- she had certainly misjudged her audience! I had a delicious hazelnut hot chocolate from the Hotel Chocolat cafe (they basically heat up coconut milk and then stir in flakes of chocolate- it’s amazing) and then tried on a load of things in Lululemon. To be fair, I had a £20 voucher, but of course that doesn’t go very far! I was half looking for a top for yoga- I really don’t like a tight top, but then I really hate it when my top rides up (down?) when you are in an inversion- no-one needs to see my stomach and I know that no-one cares, but it makes me feel uncomfortable.  The elastic banding around my SB top has gone loose so it’s not as good any more, but I couldn’t find anything suitable, so got some more leggings- amazingly these have pockets big enough for my phone (which is too big really, but I bought it on the internet after looking at one in a shop, not realising I was getting the newer model…)- anyway, they’ll be good for parkrun as I like being able to get my phone out quickly.

After lunch at Leon we headed home and I pottered about, soaking the fruits ready for Christmas cake baking. We then went to the cinema in the evening and saw Death of Stalin, which was just so funny. A much more successful cinema trip than our recent weeks.

On Friday after having our boiler serviced (I know how to live) and a walk into town, I got on with making the Christmas cakes- my favourite half term tradition.

It made the house smell pretty amazing, although I’ve also been using some special oil in my diffuser at the moment, which smells pretty similar.

A while back a running coach contacted me and offered to send me a few doTERRA essential oils; a lavender oil, some muscle rub (which I have used after a couple of my long runs- it had a cooling effect although after the first application I learnt that less is more!), and then On Guard, which is a blend of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils. It smells amazing, and apparently can be used to make mulled wine if you were inclined.

I’ve just been enjoying it in my diffuser to make the room smell all festive and comforting.

I was also sent some clever powder to help clean your teeth.

Swish to go is basically a little sachet of powder that you sprinkle into your mouth, it then turns to liquid (no need to add water), you swish it about a bit and then swallow. I have tried it a couple of times- it takes a big of getting used to as it is a weird sensation to pour onto your tongue, and the mint flavour is quite strong, but it seemed to work pretty well. Although it would not replace brushing your teeth, it would work quite well if you wanted to freshen up and couldn’t clean your teeth- for example we have parents evening straight after work, and you can’t really clean your teeth or use mouthwash in the staff toilets, so one of these would work nicely then. I’m not a big fan of eating mints because then you are left with the sugar in your mouth anyway, so these seem like a good solution. I might take one with me when I do a half marathon next month as it is nice to freshen up afterwards sometimes too.

Back to the jobs- the final half term job we completed was putting up our pictures- we bought these from Hawaii and so the one on the left was from 2012- but we had not found frames that we liked until recently. They are all by an artist called Heather Brown who has just an amazing and really distinctive style (click on the link to see as my photo of course doesn’t do the art any justice)- I could have bought so many more!

What are your favourite and least favourite jobs? Do you have many photos or prints on your walls? We have a Totoro print in our bedroom and a few holiday photos up in some other rooms, but we still have some walls that need filling.

*I was sent the samples in exchange for a mention on my blog- all opinions are my own