Buntingford 10 miles 2016 and a petrol panic

A while back, in a moment of madness/ enthusiasm, I signed up for a 10 mile race for the day after Boxing day. Originally I knew a few people who would be running it, but one of them gave her place away (this was allowed by the organisers) and then one of them wasn’t well. It didn’t start until 10.30am, and on Boxing Day evening I was tempted just to go on a run by myself from home instead, and give up the medal.

However, I got a message on Tuesday morning from the friend who was ill, saying she was meant to be driving someone else there (an OH lady runner), and would I give her a lift, so that made my decision for me.

I’d never been to Buntingford before, but it wasn’t hard to find (with a satnav) and the parking was just down the road from the race HQ (a college/ school)- this meant we could wait inside before it started as it was cold and frosty. It also meant real toilets, as I pretty much refuse to use port-a-loos.

The race start was a short walk from the HQ, and at 10.30 on the dot a horn went off and everyone started running. The route started off with a mile loop around the town, back to the start again, before heading off into the countryside. It was very cold, and there were plenty of marshals out shouting to warn everyone of the slippery patches on the pavements. I was only doing the race for the miles, and had no expectations of a fast time, particularly as I had run several long runs in the previous week.  I had also heard it was fairly undulating, so wasn’t expecting much. We made arrangements to meet at the finish as I was setting off much slower.


There was one big hill at around 4 miles, and I heard some people saying that it was the worst one, so I was glad that was over. I had started off steadily, and decided to pick up the pace for the second half.


There were still a few hills in the second half, but they weren’t as bad (not as steep or as long) so I managed a few miles beginning with 9. I saw the 8 mile marker and just felt tired and a bit hungry, but then I heard a clock chiming for midday – I would not normally run that late in the morning, and although I’d had some toast for breakfast, it was at around 8am as I had to allow time to drive there (and the car park closed at 10am, so we had to be there before then).

I was glad to reach the finish line- 1.41.07- not bad for a hilly course. I’m glad I did it, as it was a pretty route, mainly through lovely countryside, and lots of cheerful marshals the whole way around.


The medal is a good one too- very chunky, and I like the bird on it (although I am pretty sure it’s a magpie, even though it says “Stone the crows” on it- no idea why…).

After dropping the other runner off, I was going to head straight home, but then this happened:


Photo taken while I was in the petrol queue, don’t worry I didn’t take it while driving…

The light had come on for my petrol, and it had said I had 40 miles left, but then as I was driving towards home, the dial dropped below zero and the number of miles left went blank- this totally panicked me. I never leave the petrol this low (I was going to get some on the way back from my Auntie’s on Boxing Day but we left a bit later than planned so I didn’t have time). Luckily we have a Morrison’s around the corner so I drove there, keeping my fingers crossed that it would not suddenly stop. Thankfully I made it, although the person in front of me spent ages faffing about after filling their tank up, and I was hoping I would not have to push my car the final few metres!

It was all good thankfully, and I got home feeling pretty tired and a headache suddenly came on, although I realised that as we jumped in the car pretty soon after finishing, I’d only had a few sips of water since breakfast.

After a shower and lunch, we walked into town to meet Andy’s parents to see the new Star Wars film- a nice treat to sit down after all that running.

I enjoyed it (Andy had already seen it once), but when we got home we had messages from his brothers saying their families were ill with stomach bugs. I felt totally shattered, but could not decide if this was because I was ill, or if I was just tired from all the running. Anyway, the next morning I was ill- this was rubbish timing as we were having our new bed delivered that morning, so when all I wanted to do was lay in bed, I had to get up as Andy had to take the old one apart. I ended up basically dozing on the sofa all day, and by the evening managed to have one piece of toast.


On Thursday morning I felt a bit better, after sleeping for 12 hours, and headed out on a walk in the frosty sunshine to get some fresh air.


All over the floor were little balls of ice, like hail- at first I thought they were bits of grit, but I think there was ice on the trees, and when a bit melted the balls fell to the ground. It was very pretty anyway.

I was meant to be running my final 3 miles on Thursday (or Friday) but I felt so tired I didn’t think it would be a good idea. Plus I had not eaten much (yesterday I had one bit of toast for breakfast, one for lunch and a little bit of pasta for dinner). Today (Friday) I had an opticians appointment so I walked into town. I am planning on doing parkrun tomorrow, so hopefully I will get my final 3 miles then to get to my 1000 mile total. Fingers crossed.

Do you like running routes that you know? I think sometimes it is an advantage, but also I could not worry about any hills as I didn’t know they were coming. How late do you leave it to fill up with petrol? I used to only go just below half, but my car now tells me ho many miles (approx) there are left, so I tend to leave it until I have about 80 miles left.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day parkruns

Normally I would run a parkrun on a Saturday, and have a longer run on Sunday. As Christmas was on a Sunday this year, I decided to swap them over, so I would have my longer run first. Last weekend (on Sunday) I ran to and from the start of Ellenbrook parkrun, to see how long it would take. I went slightly different ways there and back, and the quickest way was just under 5 miles, so I decided that running there, doing parkrun, and running home would be a good long run. I also signed up to the Strava December half marathon, so that was in the back of my mind.

The run was fine, and the next morning I was off to Panshanger (a 10 minute drive away) for the Christmas day parkrun.


When I got there, at about 8.40, it wasn’t too busy, but it soon got very full indeed. It was great to see so many people in Santa hats, and everyone was in a great mood.


My other festive leggings were chosen, along with my red 50 top (although I kept my long sleeved top on over it for most of it as it was chilly), plus tinsel on my trail shoes.


They were quite muddy after!

The run was good- I felt tired after running 13 miles the day before (I normally have a rest day after a long run and this reminded me why)- I started near the back as I didn’t want to hold anyone up, and as it’s narrow at the start I did walk a bit. I then picked up the pace a bit and ended up overtaking a lot of people, but still ran fairly slowly for me. The atmosphere was great- all the marshals were so cheerful, and I saw a guy running around with a carrier bag- he was stopping at each marshal point and getting out cakes to hand to them- I love seeing this sort of thing and you seem to get more of it at parkrun than anywhere else.

Even with the big number of people (337) the chip scanners were not busy, and I had enough time to treat myself to a chai latte from the coffee van before heading home for a shower, breakfast and presents. My time was 34.09, one of my slower, but it was great to get some fresh air, to add miles onto my target, and to notch up another parkrun (that was my 89th).

Christmas and Boxing Day was great- time at my parents and Andy’s parents, visiting my Auntie, having a walk outside and generally relaxing.

How was your Christmas? Do you tend to run on consecutive days? Did you do any festive runs or parkruns?


Festive Five 2016 and a trip down memory lane

A few weekends ago was another busy time; marshaling at parkrun, going out for breakfast after, walking into town later before heading into London for the evening. We went to The Roundhouse to see Ash (a band I have loved since my teenage years) do a 20th anniversary tour for their first album (well, first proper length one), 1977. (Because they love Star Wars, if you realise that the maths doesn’t work).


It was brilliant. They played the whole album, and then did a collection of songs including some I have not seen live before (Petrol, one of my favourites, from their first release), and even played a few Star Wars tunes as they were excited about the new film. I loved it, but it made me feel so old! I can’t believe it was 20 years ago.


I had decided to run to and from the race the next morning, as it was about 2 miles away, parking might be busy, and I wanted as many miles as possible. I was very excited to add antlers to the Christmas leggings!

I ran there fairly gently, and after putting on my number I had about 10 minutes, so I ran up and down the road just to keep myself warm, as well as adding to the mileage.


It was a lovely day- blue skies but freezing cold, and I was glad of the long sleeves. I did this race last year too and really enjoyed it- there are lot of marshals out in festive gear, as well as plenty of runners dressed up.

It’s a two lap route, and for the first lap I stuck behind a couple of girls and ran pretty much at their pace. One marshal told me he liked my antlers, and a few runners commented on my leggings- I think Tikaboo would have sold a few pairs that day!

On the second lap a lady overtook me, and I was feeling OK so I tried to keep up with her, going past the two I was following. The route is fairly flat- near the end of each loop it sloped up a bit, but then you had a nice downhill bit towards the half way point finish line. As I approached the finish line, one of the marshals was shouting “less than 200m to go, come on, sprint” so I sped up a bit. I went past the lady I had followed, and she told me “great running” followed by “catch that dog” (there was a person running with their dog) so I pushed on and managed to overtake the dog with about 25m to go. As soon as I finished I turned around to cheer the lady in, and thank her for her words as I would not have pushed harder if she hadn’t said anything.


I was given the “festive treat” (a tube of maltesers) and after chatting to a few runners I headed home. There was a coffee van, and cakes on offer but I didn’t think I would manage the run home after eating or drinking.


My time was texted through a few seconds after I had given my chip in- 45.55- no pb (and no course pb either- last year was 45.12) but not bad in the middle of a long run.


Later that day I was off for afternoon tea (this is happening a lot recently!)- we saw a lovely sunset from the building.


I loved the decoration on the fireplace- I’d like to get something similar for our banisters going up the stairs. It was good to catch up with my friends.


Unfortunately, the service was appalling- I was given salmon in my vegetarian sandwiches (so fed up of explaining to someone who works with food why fish is not vegetarian), no-one came over to ask if everything was OK with our food (so I could not even say about the fish), we were not offered even a top up of hot water, one friend who requested gluten free scones wanted to complain because they tasted awful, and in the end was sent to see the Receptionist (who didn’t know why she had been sent there), no-one was about when we wanted to pay, and when we asked for boxes to take the leftovers home, all the food was scrunched up into one lump of silver foil. Sigh. Anyway, I have complained and we have been offered a re-visit in the summer when they have apparently improved, so we shall see.


When I got home we put up the decorations- our living room is not sorted yet (the furniture does not really fit it) but the tree fit nicely in one of the alcoves so that was OK.


We don’t have a window ledge in the living room (we have porch doors) but there are covers over the radiators so at least there was space for the candle holders and reindeer.


My favourite decoration is now on the dining room window sill- I love how it looks all lit up.

What types of decorations do you have? Do you like the same kind of music that you enjoyed when you were a teenager? Do you complain if you have bad service? I prefer to mention things at the time in the hope they will be sorted, but that didn’t work in this case!

My favourite Christmas movies/ shows, plus December running latest

So, Christmas is well and truly here. Since finishing work on Wednesday I have been getting into the spirit- icing the Christmas cakes, getting my hair cut (not so festive, but very much needed as my last cut was in July), wrapping presents, buying a few last minute bits, treating myself to a gingerbread steamer (basically the latte minus the coffee) making maple-roasted nuts and Christmas brownies to take to my parents tomorrow.


Decorating made a big mess!


So, the running. I had planned a long run of 10 miles on Thursday morning (in the light!!!)- originally I was going to run with some ladies from the club, but a couple dropped out, and on Wednesday my back and then hips (or whatever it is, I don’t really know) were quite stiff and not feeling great. I messaged my friend saying I would rather run alone as I didn’t want to hold her up but also I knew I would be tempted to speed up and push myself a bit too much.  I headed out gently (it was freezing) and tried a new route, which I thought would work well as then I would not be able to compare times to other routes.


This horrible hill was in the middle- it’s 120ft from bottom to top, and it;s very steep. I walked a couple of times as it was just horrible.


Why doesn’t it ever look as steep in real life? Anyway, I stopped quite a few times as I got lost (sort of- I had to check my phone a few times and wasn’t quite where I thought I would be..), I bumped into a friend who was out walking her dog, and then I went into the bank to pay in a cheque. This was good though as it meant I was going slowly and not pushing at all. I did some freestyle yoga (making it up as I go along) when I got back- the downward dog after a run is lovely.


This is my “I should have worn a buff” face- it doesn’t show up that well but the skin on my neck and chest went all blotchy from being so cold- this happens to me a lot in the winter and is very annoying.

After the run (I then had 29 miles left before the end of the year) I felt OK, but I ended up sitting down for a bit (catching up on emails and TV) and got fairly stiff. I had my haircut that evening and walked around town for a bit first, but on Friday I was still a bit stiff. We walked into town and then when we got back I tried a new app that Andy got for the TV (maybe called Flow? I can’t remember)- anyway, it had loads of videos of yoga sessions on there, including a whole section for yoga for runners. I put on the lights on the tree, lit a candle (Bluebird Tea mulled wine candle that smells like mince pies mixed with orange zest). I ended up doing about 40 minutes (I think I did a 5 minute one to see if I would like it, then a 15 min one, then 20), and at the end once I was warmed up I did a little headstand practise. At first I could only get one leg onto one arm, but I regrouped and had another go, and managed it for a bit.


At first I could not manage the pigeon pose on one side, but by the end I had another go and it really helped- the hips is where the tension seems to lie.

I was worrying a lot (I have some paranoia around this) as I was planning on running to and from parkrun on Christmas Eve, but thankfully the yoga worked wonders and all was fine. I was treated to this gorgeous sunrise just before 8am today:


I then headed off slowly and steadily, and made it to parkrun just fine.


It had such a festive feel- baubles in the trees, fairy lights on the fences,


Santa set us off (instead of 3,2,1,go, he said ho, ho, ho go), and there was an inflatable snowman handing out the finish tokens!


I ran with my dad – he was taking it gently as he had not been running for a couple of weeks, and had cycled to the start. We finished in 29.39- pleased to be under 30 minutes as it was very muddy and slippery.


Trail shoes were certainly needed -it was very slippery and muddy out there. (Added tinsel for the festive feel)

After a quick chat we parted ways as we were all getting cold, and by the time I got home I’d run a half marathon, and my legs were still feeling fine. Phew. 16 miles to go now.


I was so hungry after my shower- we had some almond croissants in the freezer (one each for us), and then I found a left over pain au chocolate, so decided to have both along with some grapes.

We walked into town in the afternoon (leg still going well)- so hopefully I shall be alright for a Christmas morning parkrun tomorrow.

So, onto the Christmas films/ TV shows.

Already this year we have watched Home Alone and the Gavin and Stacy Christmas episode (Midge Ure cheddar…). Tonight we have penciled in It’s a Wonderful Life (a Christmas Eve tradition), and we need to find time for The Snowman, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas episode, Community Christmas special, Home Alone 2 and The Muppets Christmas Carol. Andy also likes Die Hard but we shall see if we have enough time.

What are your favourite Christmas TV shows / films? Did you have a festive parkrun this weekend?

Have a lovely Christmas! x

PS- It was my debut as run report writer this week, and I was a bit inspired by The Snowman- check out my report if you fancy it.

November Poppy Challenge 2016

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like the run every day challenges, but I do like a distance challenge- this year I have completed a couple of 100 miles a month challenges, and they are always good. I can get stuck in a bit of a routine, especially with my midweek runs. I always think 3 miles is the minimum (no point in running for so little that it takes me longer to get changed and shower than it does to actually run). But by joining a challenge I add a little to that- I have found a few 5 mile routes- still the run is less than an hour and still manageable after work. Where it is best, is parkrun, because it means I do a little warm up run first, which makes the actual parkrun feel so much easier. The temptation to leave home later and arrive just before gets higher the longer the term goes on for.

november-2015I did the Virtual Runner poppy challenge last year and did 76 miles- I was pleased with this, but decided I wanted to beat it this year.


This year I managed 93- loads more! It helped that I noticed I was closer to 1000 miles for the year, so added on a few extra here and there. I am not sure I would have noticed if it wasn’t for this challenge as I don’t usually look at the monthly miles unless I am doing something like this.

The month included some parkrun tourism (Preston parkrun in Brighton, and Lydiard parkrun in Swindon, on the way to the Bath Christmas markets). It also included a cancelled race (Brighton 10K) where I ran around the town a bit instead, and an unexpected pb for the Hatfield 5.


It also included a lot of Christmas light spotting- this house had a projector- the snowflakes were moving all over the place.

The medal is beautiful too.


And they raised £7600 for the British Legion, which I think is fantastic.

Do you warm up before a run? Or just have the first mile as the warm up?