Killarney parkrun Ireland

For the middle Saturday of our Ireland trip we had a fab Air B’n’B in Killarney (staying from the Wednesday to Sunday) so I had plenty of time to figure out where the parkrun was. The parkrun is located in the grounds of Killarney House, right in the centre of the town. We were staying 2 miles from the centre, but a very easy route (straight down to the main road for about 3/4 of a mile, then along the main road until the park entrance) and I’d run there earlier in the week to check. I left with plenty of time and arrived with time to take photos, hear the run briefing and soak up the atmosphere.

I saw deer in the field on the way to parkrun!

The weather was gorgeous. Bright blue skies, a little breezy and perfect running weather. I wore a long sleeved top over my t-shirt and found a bench to leave it on during parkrun. The parkrun was just so scenic too with views of the mountains surrounding it.

It was a perfect example of a small but perfectly formed parkrun- 126 runners on average- the week I was there they had lots of people from the Cork & Kerry Sanctuary Runners- they posed for a team photo and had a shout out at the start. There were friendly marshals on the way around, and the run report was the most detailed that I’d read– I was included in a list of shout outs (from the club with the longest name!) and they even listed the total number of parkruns that I’d been to. Very detailed.

It was just over 2 laps as hopefully you can see in the map- very simple to follow. The grounds were totally flat and you just had lovely views whichever way you were facing. It was varied, with an avenue of cherry trees to run through, some more open fields and a shaded path near the edge of the park.

The bottom two photos were from their facebook page- the person doing the run report had even worked out a picture to link with the text about my running club which was very impressive!

I couldn’t hang around at the end as it was Andy’s birthday (the Grand Prix qualifying was on so happily he was fine with me heading out to parkrun) and we had plans for the afternoon. I ran the two miles back as a cooldown (may have walked up the steep hill to our cottage) before we got on with the rest of our day.

We drove to nearby carpark and then hiked 2 miles uphill on a mixture of rocky paths and boardwalks with quite a few fake summits- thankfully to be rewarded with the most amazing views of the lake. We had to rest for a while at the top before going back down as some of it was quite steep (a little scrambling on rocks here and there) and the 7 miles run from earlier had tired me out a bit!

So there we go- my 82nd different parkrun venue.

Do you like to visit parkruns while you are on holiday? I know I am lucky as there are lots close to me (within an hour say) but a lot of my touring has been if I’ve been somewhere else for the weekend and have been to the closest one- all of those are adding up. It doesn’t always work out- last year in Scotland we were there when they restarted, but the closest one was over an hour away and it just didn’t fit with our plans (we had to check out that day and head in the opposite direction to where the nearest one was) so I had to skip parkrun that week.

Poolbeg parkrun- lucky Ireland meant I somehow managed to get there

For the Easter holidays, the two of us had planned a trip to Ireland. Neither of us had ever been, and so we mapped out a road trip, beginning and ending in Dublin, but taking in a lot of the Ireland (NI and ROI). Andy is usually in charge of holiday itineraries, and with parkrun I try to manage to get to one if possible, but it doesn’t always happen and that’s fine. Happily he mentioned to me that every Saturday we would be somewhere with a parkrun- result! 3 more parkruns to visit!

We flew to Dublin on the Friday evening (which I found very stressful, having not flown for a couple of years, and finding the experience stressful pre-pandemic), and our flight was delayed taking off so we didn’t check into our hotel until gone midnight. In Ireland the parkruns don’t start until 9:30am, so it meant I had a bit more time in the morning. After my disaster going to Finsbury park (I went the wrong way out of the train station) I realised I needed to be more prepared, so I had written out instructions from our hotel to Poolbeg parkrun, the closest one to our hotel- around 4km away, so a nice warm up and cool down. I loaded up the map onto my phone, put in my headphones and headed off. Andy told me he had every confidence in me (clearly a mistake) and reminded me to look at my surroundings on the way so I would recognise the way back.  It was fairly straightforward- a lot of “go straight on”, so when the maps stopped talking to me in my ears I didn’t think anything of it at first. I kept turning around and looking behind me to see landmarks that could help me find my way back later. I had seen some of the landmarks on my piece of paper, and thought I might be parallel to the route I’d mapped out. However, after 2 miles I stopped and found out that despite getting the “welcome to Ireland” text, roaming was in fact not working, and I’d not thought to download the maps so they worked offline. I tried to head back the way I had some, but it was no use, I was around 2 miles from the parkrun, at around 9:10, and with no way to navigate there. I could have just run back to the hotel, but I really didn’t want to miss parkrun- being so near to one and with it planned in just seemed like such a waste.

I was actually aiming for bottom right of this map- where it says Irishtown. So yes, I was lost. Also, when I went to save this, the title “lost” was already taken. That’s saying something!

By some stroke of luck I ran past a queue of taxis, so then had a bit of a back and forwards (ask a taxi driver, “are you taking fares?”, no, but he is, ask him “do you take credit cards as I have no cash?”, no, but he does…), finally finding one who would take me. He was so friendly, and very amused that I had got lost running- it took a while for me to explain I was running to an organised run. He tried a couple of places as I could not load up the website to give instructions (and my paper instructions were no good to anybody), and then when we finally arrived the credit card machine wouldn’t work at first. It was by this point 9:30am and I was still half a mile from the start- I dashed out of the taxi and as I ran past some people walking asked them if they knew where the parkrun started. “Keep going to the end of this path and then turn left, but you’ve missed the start” thy told me, and I called back that hopefully I could catch up with the tail walker. As I rounded the corner I was so relieved to see a group of runners and high viz covered volunteers still stood around- the briefing was still going on! I hadn’t missed it!!!

It didn’t start until 9:40, so I had a chance to catch my breath and calm down (I really was panicked) and then I could enjoy the parkrun- my first in Ireland. It was really beautiful by the water- there was a big power station (or electricity factory as I called it), and the course ran around a small park, out and back along the bay and then through the park again.  The out and back part along the coast had a fairly steep hill on the out section, which you got to run back down again on the way back, so I took a few photos there- it was so pretty with the sun shining off the water, even on an overcast day.

It was a speedy one- I was 77th out of 84 finishers, and the tail walker finished in 42 minutes (obviously this could be different each week) so I was glad I didn’t start behind as it would have been hard to catch up!

At this point I thought that text messages were still working but the internet wasn’t (due to me receiving the welcome text) so I sent one to Andy telling him it started late so I’d be back later than expected, only of course that message didn’t send. I then had to somehow get back to our hotel….

I looked at my handwritten notes and tried to work them out in reverse- I could picture the map so knew I needed to keep the coast on my right and gradually head left and up, but basically I would run along for a bit, stop and ask someone “which way to the city centre please?” and then head off in the direction that I was pointed in. When I was closer to the centre I found a council worker in a high viz jacket and so I asked him for directions to our hotel, and he gave me excellent directions (and even made me repeat them so I didn’t get muddled)- I was so relieved to see some of the shops that I had spotted earlier on. That run ended up being 3.5 miles- you can see below that I didn’t take the most direct route (and went totally wrong once) but thankfully all the people I asked pointed me in the right direction and I made it back.

Andy was rather worried as I had estimated I would be back at around 10:30 but the late start combined with the longer run back meant it was nearly 11am by the time I got back. Time for a quick shower and then a walk to get some breakfast (delicious acai bowl)- on Friday we’d had a sandwich in the airport at around 6.30pm and that felt like a long time ago by this point!

So, more lessons learned (always download the map so it works offline….) but my 81st different parkrun visited, my 6th parkrun country, and another really enjoyable course.

Are you good at navigating? I have the worst sense of direction.

Stevenage parkrun, vegan goodies and sunrises for morning runs

Recently we needed to pop to the garden centre, and went to the little farm shop that is next to it to have a mooch- I was quite excited to give the vegan lemon curd a go (I love lemon curd on a toasted hot cross bun) and the chai drink too. The March tea club had another adorable postcard (they are all so good at the moment) and of course some fab themed tea including Hot Cross Bun tea.

I also got these Oggs millionaire bites in my latest vegan box- again, so delicious. But the best news was that the mornings are now light enough to go for a run around the fields instead of sticking to streets! (This only lasted until the clocks went forwards, but will be back to being light again soon). I just love running around the fields and through the woods, hearing the birds and being away from traffic.

A happy face in the woods and some beautiful sunrises!

It feels like such a treat to be around to view the sunrise- because it’s so quiet in the morning it feels like not many people see them.

I was up early one morning (not a run day) and decided to head out for a walk as I could not sleep.  It was a frosty clear morning so again I was treated to wonderful views. I was meant to be getting my hair cut so it was a pre-haircut photo, only the cut ended up being postponed.

On the Saturday, Dad had asked me to pick him up and take him to Stevenage as he had to get the train from there later, so of course I was happy to oblige. We had a wonderful morning at Stevenage- the weather was again glorious and it was fantastic to be out enjoying the sunshine. After we went and got breakfast from the café and sat outside on the terrace looking out over the water. Such a good start to the weekend. I dropped him at the station and then headed home, where Andy had ordered Crosstown doughnuts for the weekend. After some work, I headed out for my haircut, and it was so warm I got a smoothie on the way back home. We get a drink from Caffe Nero each week via Vitality, and they have recently included Innocent smoothies, which I would prefer over their barista fruit drinks (not quite sure what they are made with?). I am always a bit suspicious of spirulina as I tried some once and it tasted so fishy, but luckily this only had a small amount and I could not taste it.

The “green juice” did make me think of The Dropout (the series about the Theranos company)- but I promise that’s not why I had it!

Letchworth parkrun and a fall, gardening and almond croissants

A few weeks ago, Jersey Farm parkrun was cancelled, and Dad was around, so we decided to head up to Letchworth, as he’d not been there before. I’d been a couple of times, and thought he’d like it as it’s off road, fairly small in numbers with nice scenery. The morning was beautiful, we had a fab first timers welcome and in the main briefing warned about the ruts in the field. I remembered these from a previous visit where the ground was frozen so the ruts from the tractor tyres were huge and solid. Anyway, we were happily running along, navigated the corner (I think they called it calamity corner?) but heading up the hill on the field I suddenly found myself on the ground. I have fallen over a few times when running (the last was a few years ago so it’s not like I trip all the time) but it’s always such a shock. Of course Dad was there to help me up, and a couple of other parkrunners stopped too, to check I was OK. I felt OK (one of the guys who stopped made me check both elbows but they were fine), so we walked for a bit and then continued to run. It’s a two lap course and thankfully I managed the second lap OK, and towards the finish the guy checked that I was OK again which was lovely. We finished (30:05- not bad considering we walked for a bit) and then took our time heading back to the car. I had breakfast with my parents, but when I got home later and had a shower I realised I had quite a bit bruise on my hip, and some scratches and bruises on one knee.

I did some gardening (the weather was so beautiful it was a shame to waste it) but maybe that wasn’t the best idea, because as the day wore on I was quite stiff and sore (Andy even made me take another LFT just in case I was aching for a different reason- it was negative though).

I took it gently on Sunday and did 7 miles- that was plenty! Again it was so beautiful outside I had to make the most of the weather. I did a bit of yoga in the afternoon to help with the aches too, and felt a bit better after.

Now, you may already know that I am a huge fan of almond croissants- give me anything that tastes like marzipan please! You can’t get vegan ones in many places, but Random Buns of Kindness have started making them, so I had ordered us a box (with some other things too)- we warmed them in the oven for breakfast on Sunday and they did not disappoint- they were amazing. If only I lived in Norwich I’d be there all the time!