The Easter weekend including plenty of cake

After parkrun in the morning we drove to Royal Victoria country park for a bracing walk by the water, before visiting family.

Then we headed to a National Trust place (Mottisfont) for a walk around the gardens and of course a visit to the tearoom. Because of a late breakfast I’d only had a little salad for lunch, so I was pretty hungry later in the afternoon. Usually we would share a piece of cake (they are huge) but I saw the hot cross buns and could not resist, so we shared one of those (toasted) and a piece of rhubarb bakewell cake.

The gardens were lovely to walk around, and thankfully it didn’t rain while we were there so we just wandered for a few hours, enjoying the sights of the spring flowers.

On Sunday we headed to Hughenden (another National Trust place), which was absolutely rammed. They had closed the car park and were asking people to park by the church and then walk up, which was fine with us, but it did surprise us.

Of course, after a walk and a visit to the house we had to visit the tea room for something to call lunch. This time I went for a scone (it is because I have only recently discovered that I like this type of cream, so I think I am making up for lost time) and Andy had a piece of coconut and lime cake.

The weather was still playing ball so on our way home we stopped off at the main park in St Albans and walked around the lake for a bit before heading home.

On Monday after a longer run (8 miles) it was time to tackle some decorating. We have lived here for nearly two years now but still not sorted all the rooms, so we started stripping the wallpaper in the dining room. Stripping wallpaper is my most hated job, because you make more of a mess before things get better.  Also, the wallpaper on three of the walls is really thick and comes off in layers, so you need to steam each section two or three times to get it off. The steamer cuts out after a certain amount of time and has to be left to cool, so we did some, had lunch, and then it was time for the cinema (we had booked tickets). We saw Isle of Dogs, which was pretty funny in places with some brilliant styles of animation in there. Once home it was time for another round of wallpaper stripping before a late dinner. There are still two walls to go as well…

Did you have a good Easter weekend? What food do you generally go for in a tearoom/cafe? 

Portmouth Lakeside parkrun- tourism but not where I originally planned…

The two of us had planned to go away for the long Easter weekend, and possibly some of the following week. Originally we had Wales in our sights, and so I was of course thinking of Conwy parkrun for some amazing scenery and another parkrun course. The weather hadn’t been great (and our fence totally blew down and the bill for a new one is rather high), so we decided to save Wales for when the weather could have been better, and head south instead. Now I am keeping half an eye on the parkrun alphabet (still loads of letters to do – D, I, J, N, Q, U, V, Y, Z) and so I looked into Queen Elizabeth Country Park parkrun (I think it’s the only Q in the country?). There are no hotels nearby but we found one around 20 minutes away, so we planned to head down on Friday stopping off at a few places on the way, drive there on Saturday morning, I’d do the parkrun and then change in the toilets after (I would not be running too fast as it looked like a slippery and steep route), and then we could head off for the day. Anyway, as the weekend got closer we had more and more rain, and it seemed that the parkrun would be a total quagmire. It then turned out that the hotel we booked (the Village hotel close to Portsmouth) was right by the start of Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun, so it seemed sensible to change plans and do that one instead.

We ended up heading into Southampton town centre on the Friday- the traffic was awful driving down and it was still pouring so we wandered around the shops for a bit (I needed some new trainers for general wear as my current ones are years old and have started to rub the back of my foot) and had dinner before driving to the hotel.

I did get confused as on the course page it mentions the Starbucks where they get a drink after, and I thought it was the Starbucks in our hotel lobby, but it turned out to be another one. Of course this made me panic for a bit but when I looked at a map it was 0.3 miles away and really the next block of buildings along the road. All I had to do in the morning was walk across the car park to the path (the photo above is of the hotel from the path) and then I’d be on the parkrun course. As I was a little early I did a bit of a warm up jog around the lake.

Here is where I wished I had packed my trail shoes as there were some big muddy puddles.

Not too bad but my ID is now covered in mud and you can see how deep some of the puddles were.

After my warm up I headed to the start area- nice and easy to find. The route is sort of an out and back, as you go along a path to by the hotel, turn back on yourself and run towards and around the lake, then back around the lake, back along to the hotel, and then back to the finish.

I went to the first timer briefing where they explained the course and welcomed lots of first time parkrunners- always good. Then it was time for the main briefing. I tried to stand about half way back but it was hard to work out where exactly to place. They had a sort of siren thing to get everyone’s attention, but the megaphone was not helping at all. Everyone near me was quiet, but I could only hear a muffled noise, with pauses for claps. You can of course fill in the gaps yourself (thank the volunteers- clap- well done for someone reaching a milestone- clap- well done for someone else getting a milestone- more claps) but it’s a shame to miss out on this because I think this is where the community feel comes from. Otherwise it’s more like a normal run if that makes sense? I’m not sure what the solution is really, but it’s a shame that even with people being quiet they can’t hear the briefing. Anyway, onto the run.

It was all very flat (at one point you run under an underpass but that’s it for elevation changes) although it felt very busy. I started too far back (behind some walkers it turned out) and it was hard to overtake as the paths were narrow, and you had to keep to one side because of the faster runners heading in the other direction.  At one point everyone was told to keep left, as there were runners heading back, but this one girl (wearing headphones) was still over on the right. All the runners were shouting at her to move left as the first runners were charging towards her, but she didn’t hear and so the lead runner actually bashed into her and knocked her over to the grass. She looked pretty surprised, and I do feel that they are both partly to blame because she really should not have her music on so loud that she can’t hear people shouting to her, but then both of them should have seen each other as it was a straight flat path.

The route was quite enjoyable, as it was good to run by the lake, however it was close to a busy road and you could hear the loud drone of traffic the entire time. Someone kept on shouting “go Maria” from the other side, and it would confuse me for a second before I realised I was running close to someone else named Maria. I ended up chatting to her at the end as she was cheering on her mum and dad, so was walking next to the course as I was walking back to the hotel. I managed to keep overtaking people the whole time, with splits  of 9.39, 9.06, 8.40 and then 7.55 for the final bit, so I felt pleased with that. 28:36 was my official time. Of course the bonus of visiting a new parkrun is that you “PR” in all of your Strava segments.

I could see a few runners on the far side of the lake as I walked back to the hotel.

All in all a successful bit of tourism and it finished with a Starbucks from the hotel lobby. You can’t get a hotel much closer  to the start line (the Village hotel in Maidstone is also very close to the start, with the Premier Inn being even closer). If only hotels would post their closest parkrun it would make touristing so much easier.

Do you know any good hotel/parkrun combinations?  What did you get up to over the Easter weekend? How does your parkrun make sure that everyone can hear the briefing? When I went to Bushy they had speakers in the trees, but seeing as they have 1000+ runners it is not surprising that they need them. At Ellenbrook the RD just has to climb onto a gate and shout, but then with less than 200 runners and a fairly wide path it’s not too hard to hear.


Postponements, cancellations and a few random photos

A few weeks ago on Monday we were meant to be going to see FOTC (very exciting as I love their show, and their songs, and they only tour once every million years no exaggeration…)

Then this happened:

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From their facebook page- you can’t be playing instruments if you have broken your arm…

Sad face indeed. I’m not crying, it’s been raining on my face. At least they have rearranged the dates so hopefully we can still go, although it seems that the dates and days don’t match up which is very confusing.

We also had Peter Kay tickets but that tour was cancelled (for very good reasons of course)- now we are just waiting to find out if anything else we have tickets for gets cancelled as these things are meant to come in threes.

The other Saturday I walked into town in the afternoon and got my free drink (Vitality is keeping us in Starbucks at the moment- you get a free drink and a free cinema ticket each week)- I was pleased to have exactly 13000 steps at that point. It’s like when you fill up with petrol and manage to get exactly to the pound- little things make me happy!

My Tropic stuff arrived!  Each produce comes with a little sleeve with the ingredients listed in English as well as Latin, which means you have actually heard of most things.

I bought the starter kit with cleanser, toner, moisturiser and a scrub, some sun cream and then my favourite, this little bottle of Elixir (age defying facial oil)- it smells amazing, like marzipan, and contains lots of good sounding things such as rosehip oil, kiwi seed oil and plum kernel oil (which I think is where the marzipan scent comes from). It has a little dropper and you mix a drop into your normal face cream and especially after a long run in the cold (the combination of cold air and salt on my skin makes it very sore after long winter runs) it makes my skin feels loads better. One happy customer so far. Plus the dropper is fun to use and reminds me of my science lessons at secondary school.

We’ve had some very impressive skies recently. I was out on a run one evening after work and I was heading towards blue skies and a few clouds. I turned a corner to start heading home and these black clouds greeted me. I think with the sun on the trees it looked even more dramatic.

Yoga has still been going well. A few weeks ago we had a lovely session on the day of the spring equinox (it was also a full moon, or maybe a new moon, something to do with the moon anyway). We finished the session with some candle meditation (basically we sit in a circle in the dark, wrapped in a blanket, and look at a candle, and then close our eyes and picture the candle, and once you can’t see it any more, you open your eyes to look at it again)- I sometimes struggle with waking in the night and I have found that picturing the candle in the middle of the night is one of the things that helps me get back to sleep, so it was good to have a refresher of this. Towards the end of term I was feeling pretty shattered and I nearly didn’t go to the final yoga session, feeling like I didn’t have the strength for holding a downward dog for any length of time, but of course I came away feeling much better for it.

I’ve also been doing a spot of baking recently- these were requested by someone at work (peanut butter blondies). I had not made them for ages and had forgotten how good they are.

Also, I was watching the celebrity bake off the other day and had to freeze the image because of the necklace that was being worn. We have these little construction toys at school called clever sticks (basically little circles and lines of plastic that clip together)- the children will often make the members of staff lovely necklaces using them- I feel this had happened on this occasion too!

Do you like it when your petrol (or other things) end up on round numbers? Do you like going to see shows? I love seeing live bands, orchestras and also comedy gigs.

Lee Valley 10K 2018

Last year I did the half marathon (with my Dad, it was great), but they also offer a 10k which starts a bit earlier (always my preference) and I could not decide which one to do, so I left the decision until after running Cambridge. I was pretty tired all that week, I picked up a cough which mostly affected me at night, and I was ill one weekend so I decided that the 10k was the most sensible option. The half marathon is a two lap course with the 10k being one lap (slight deviations in both cases as a half isn’t double a 10k), so I thought at least I would see all the pretty scenery.

I was more worried about driving there than the run- I was up early to have a piece of toast and some nuun in water, and had plenty of time to drive and park. The journey was actually fine and I had plenty of time to collect my number, use the toilets (there are real toilets as there is a cafe on site) and chat to a few running friends.

I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist so I was just wearing my vest, but it was really cold. The start was delayed by 15 mins due to queues inside, which I didn’t realise until I’d been waiting for 10 mins, so I got quite cold stood around, but soon we were off and running around the park.

I wasn’t going for a pb, but I wanted to push the pace a bit. I’m not good at racing 10k’s as I think I should be able to go faster but I hate that feeling of pushing hard. I was aiming to get in the low 9 min per mile, and ended up hovering around that mark (9.25 as the first mile was quite congested, then 8.59, 9.02, 9.04, 8.56, 8.52 and then 8.01 for the final bit) which I was pleased with. The route is pretty flat apart from some bridges that you run over- some of them are fairly gentle but some are pretty steep so a bit tough when you are trying to run fast.

At times the route curved around and so up ahead I could see runners and then their colourful tops reflected in the waterways. I tried to take some mid-run photos but I didn’t want to slow down too much! At one point I caught up with a runner from our club so chatted to her briefly, and then later I was overtaken by one of the speedy runners from our club- she’d started right at the back so had been working her way up the field for the whole race. I wondered if we would see any half marathon runners, but as the routes were a tiny bit different we didn’t end up getting lapped.

The finish felt long- you run through the field where the cars were parked, over a bridge and then down towards the main centre- everyone was saying “nearly there, final push” but then you seemed to go away from the finish a bit, veering around the building and through a small car park. I think I started my “sprint” finish too early.

As I finished I got given a medal and picked up a bottle of water and a banana. I suddenly felt really hungry, but then that piece of toast was a long time ago.

I chatted to the runners who had finished ahead, and we waited for the others to come in.  After a team photo we all headed home. On the way back there is a big retail park with a Starbucks in it, so I decided to stop and get a cinnamon roll and a chai latte as a sort of brunch as otherwise it would be a 30 min + journey and time was getting on.

When I got home I had a lovely hot shower and then looked up my results. My chip time was 56:23 so I am pretty pleased with that.

All in all a good race, although I think next year I might do the half marathon there as I did really enjoy the route and it seemed to finish really quickly this year. It would be such a good place to go for a walk too, as there are paths everywhere and lots of spots for picnics and things too.

Do you like lapped routes?  Are you good at driving to new places?  I was more nervous about the journey than the actual race!

Oak Hill parkrun for a new letter

Snow leftovers on Monday morning

This week has been super busy and felt longer than usual. Yoga was on Tuesday (the museum people had booked the hall for the Wednesday), so I spent all of Tuesday thinking it was Wednesday- the most disappointing way to have your days mixed up. This feeling continued during the week which is never good. I managed a short run after work on Wednesday, but got home late on Thursday and needed to walk around to the shop so decided to do that instead of rushing to fit in a run. I was going to head to Panshanger on Saturday, but then on Friday night I remembered that I had looked into Oak Hill parkrun before- it’s near to Cockfosters tube station (we sometimes drive to park there, or by Oakwood, when going into London) and seemed fairly straightforward to get to, with a car park at the start. Panshanger was really muddy last week and Oak Hill looked like it was all on paths (it was), so I decided if I woke up in time on Saturday I’d head there instead.

The journey was about 30 minutes, and in the end I left at around 8.10 (I need to leave lots of time for getting lost)- the journey was fine until the satnav told me I had reached my destination when I was driving along a residential road. I drove down a big hill and saw some runners running up it, and briefly considered putting the window down and shouting to see if they were going to parkrun, but I was too slow. As I looked for a place to pull over at the bottom of the hill, I saw the entrance to the car park and cars pulling in- phew!

It was about 8.45 but cold, so I sat in the car for a bit, watching loads of people with hockey-type bibs on gather around. It slowly dawned on me that they were some sort of fitness group and nothing to do with parkrun, so then I had a panic that I was in the wrong place. I got out of the car to look and then thankfully could see the finish area taping and the blue and white of the RD’s vest- phew!

It was a proper “flash mob” parkrun- stood around at 8.50 am there were maybe 30 people, and not many when they did the new runner briefing. The course was just under 3 laps, and the run briefing was done at the finish area, and then we walked the short way to the start. By the time we were at the start there were loads of people (239 in fact).

As I am running a 10k race tomorrow, I didn’t want to push the pace too much and just focused on going steadily and overtaking a few people in the final lap. I managed to speed up each mile, with 9.39, 9.17, 9.04 and 8.10. The park was quite pretty with a small river running through it with willow trees on the banks. It would be a fairly fast course I think – there was a gentle uphill and then a slightly steeper short bit, followed by a downhill to the finish area, but it was all on paths and although it was busy at the start you could always overtake by running into the grass. It reminded me a bit of Mile End parkrun- not pancake flat but felt like it could be fast.

Once finished I had my token scanned (the token said 265, but then had a sticker on it saying 143, and then when the results came through I had position 140) and then did a few stretches before heading home. Thankfully the forecast rain had stayed away. I’d worn my new apricot half zip top (I caved when they had them for 30% off)- I’d tied it around my waist after the first lap when I had warmed up, so as soon as I finished I put it back on again as it was fairly chilly.

The drive home took longer but I was still home at about 10.15 which wasn’t bad, and I had a lovely breakfast waiting for me at home.

Chocolate almond croissant, mango and berries, and some love potion tea from Bluebird.

I am sort of ticking off the letters from the alphabet for parkrun, although I am still really just doing parkruns that happen to be nearby when I am somewhere else. I was quite pleased with the time of 29.15, and another letter ticked off and my 39th different parkrun course.

Did you enjoy a parkrun today? Are you good at navigating to new places? I really find it hard to drive when I don’t know where I am going, and I have a terrible sense of direction so I can feel like I am going around in circles- going to places like this is good for me I have decided because it forces me to get out of my comfort zone and also show myself that I can usually find my way on my own.