parkrun challenges!

I have recently discovered a little parkrun extension for Chrome- it is so much fun! It was posted on the parkrun tourist facebook page but I am sure it can be found on google. Basically once you have put the add-on, you can look at your results normally, as parkrun displays them, but you get a little green button to press, which then sorts your results in all sorts of marvellous ways:

Above- the normal summary of parkrun results, and then below, once you have clicked:

You can hover over each link to see what it means (the purple ones are all volunteer roles and you get one star for 5+ times and two stars for 10+ times (I imagine it keeps going up but that’s as many as I have done for each role). You also get flags to show the countries that you have been to (Crissy Field in San Francisco was my third parkrun course and my first real parkrun tourism).

It keeps track of how many courses you have been to (which is great as I kept on scrolling up and down trying to keep count).

I am not doing too badly with the alphabet challenge- 15/25 (there is not one beginning with x). It’s handy to see the missing ones.

My favourite club (they are all of course totally made up clubs) is the parkrun Pirates club-  you need 7 C’s and one R (I first heard this on the Australian podcast)- I only need 3 more C’s to get that one.

There is also a cool stopwatch bingo, which I don’t think you could ever plan to do- basically you need a time ending in each second (01, 02 up to 50, 00)- the minutes don’t count, and I am only missing 5 (17, 18, 21, 51 and 56)- but because of trying to press start when the RD says go, I don’t think my watch is ever quite the same (and forgetting to press stop in the finish funnel) so I think that will just happen by chance.

There is also “Stayin’ Alive”, which is 3 B’s and 3 G’s (I only need two more G’s), the Bushy Pilgrimage (check), New Year Day double (check). The one I am closest to finishing is the compass club- I have Eastleigh, Southampton and Westmill, so I just need a North to finish that one (and handily I need an N for the alphabet challenge so that might be my next adventure).

I have also found out that if you look at someone else’s results (I often look at my Dad’s or his cousin’s) you can see their challenge progress too.

Of course the beauty of parkrun is that it can be anything you want it to be. It can be a superfast flat out effort, or a gentle outing catching up with friends and family, it can be about the community of your local one or visiting new places. I set myself the challenge a few years ago of running all of the parkruns  in Hertfordshire, which I managed to complete last year (and then added Letchworth this year once that came along), and although I have half an eye on the alphabet challenge, it isn’t easy to get some of the letters without expensive weekends away, so I am happy to find some other new challenges along the way.

Do you ever set any challenges like this? Which club do you think you would be close to achieving? 

A brilliant running movie and lots of blog-min

One of the joys of the holidays is that I can get on top of the blogmin- I do not know how many emails I have deleted this week (does anyone else get so much spam about bluetooth speakers?), but every now and then I find a good one. I was emailed a while ago to say I was listed here on the UK top 75 running blogs. They also do a list of Top 50 UK Baking Blogs  list (I didn’t even know that the GBBO had a blog…) which is worth looking at if you’re into baking at all- I’ve found a few new ones to follow.

The best email to get was about the Skid Row marathon film. I went to see this in London last September when the Marathon Talk podcast held a special screening. It was a fantastic film, and it is very exciting that there are now going to be screenings all over the UK. You can see the trailer on You Tube here. From their press release: After amassing an incredible 13 awards from 10 different US film festivals during the 2017-2018 season and critical acclaim in the US press, documentary Skid Row Marathon is having its first official cinema release in the UK this Summer. The film will be will be distributed by CinEvents as an exclusive, one night only, Event Cinema release on Wednesday 9th May 2018 in over 100 selected multiplex and independent cinemas nationwide. The film will be released in association with The Big Issue, Runners World, The Running Charity and Marathon Talk. 

Skid Row Marathon is the truly heartwarming and inspiring story of an unlikely group of individuals from LA’s Skid Row, an area well known for being impoverished and forgotten by society. The feature-length documentary focuses on the story of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell over a period of 4 years as he coaches a long-distance running club from the Midnight Mission on LA’s infamous Skid Row.

Using the liberating power of running, the marathon training raises the spirits of Skid Row’s inhabitants and gives them a sense of purpose and a new lease of life. If club members refrain from drug abuse, stay off the streets and out of prison, the Judge will take them around the world to run marathons. Directed by Mark Hayes, this moving film documents the runners as they fight the fierce pull of addiction and homelessness at every turn. It’s a story about second chances and overcoming obstacles. With the surge in numbers of rough sleepers in the UK in the past year, Skid Row Marathon acknowledges the devastating effects homelessness can have. It showcases what the discipline of running and the power of friendship can do to change lives.

Skid Row Marathon was produced by Gabriele Hayes and Doug Blush. Blush is an award-winning producer, editor, and director who has worked on such films as 2018 Academy Award Best Documentary winner Icarus, 2012 nominee The Invisible War, and 2013 Oscar Winner, 20 Feet From Stardom.

I found the film really interesting, really emotional, and really relevant to life over here.  There are so many news stories about the number of rough sleepers in the UK increasing, and you don’t need to be interested in running, but just interested in people.  Tickets are available here, so check out if there is a screening near you. Seriously- go and see it. (I was emailed the info through, but I am just happy to share it on here because I think it’s great).

Finally I was emailed about a new event, the Ciderthon.  It’s a half marathon with a cider taster every mile taking place in Wells, Somerset on the 29th of April. The event will be showcasing local ciders, raising money for Dorset and Somerset air ambulance while bringing runners from across the country to try a new challenge! As someone who doesn’t drink, the cider part doesn’t appeal but it does look like a pretty route. You do have 6 hours so you could do it as a long walk I suppose. If you use the code Maria10 it will give you 10% off at checkout.

Have you seen the Skid Row Marathon film or would you like to? Do you like films about running? I was so annoyed when I accidentally recorded Breaking 2 on HD (when we didn’t have that channel in HD) so I still haven’t seen it. I saw a great film about the Barkley marathons on Netflix.

Do you get a lot of random emails about your blog?

Easter holidays part 1 and the Run Mummy Run book

The Easter holidays have been a good balance of relaxing, running, baking, getting on top of work, catching up with friends and jobs at home.

I made a simnel cake and decided to have a go at toasting the marzipan. As I don’t own a blow torch, I put it under the grill and it seemed to work well. It smelled incredible while it was toasting too.

On the Tuesday morning after the Bank holiday I had a 6 mile run in the morning, before spending the rest of the day doing work.  (I probably had a walk in the afternoon, but I now wish I put my walks on Strava too as it turns out I cannot remember without checking on there to see what I did).

On Wednesday I drove to the outskirts of St Albans and walked the rest of the way in, first up for a shoulder and back massage, and then to meet some friends from work for brunch.

We went to Bill’s, so I didn’t even need to see the menu as their pancakes are one of my favourite breakfasts.  After doing a few jobs in town, I went to see my parents and ended up staying for a lot of the afternoon, just sitting in their kitchen watching all the birds in their garden and catching up with them.

On Thursday morning the weather was beautiful. I had a lovely run (5 miles) and saw so many trees covered in pink blossom. A day of work followed, until 5.30 when I walked into town as I was having my hair cut. I have been going to the same hairdresser for years now, and she of course knows how thick my hair is, but she always gets someone to help her dry it, and I always have the comments about how thick my hair is. I think it’s a compliment, but it’s weird because it’s nothing I do, I just have thick hair. I suppose it’s like tall being being told constantly that they are tall. I know I have really thick hair, but I don’t really know what to say when people tell me.

On Friday I was meeting up with friends, and thankfully it was another beautiful day so I walked to my friends house (although it was a little further than I thought- walking takes a lot longer than running!), and later enjoyed a walk in the woods.

Onto the book. A while ago I was sent the book Run Mummy Run by Leanne Davies and Lucy Waterlow

When they offered to send it to me, I did explain that I am not a mummy, as I wasn’t sure whether the book would be aimed at me or not. I had heard of the facebook group, as a lot of the women in my running club are in the group, but I’d not looked into it any further.

After reading the book, I would say it is a great book to get for someone who is just starting out with running. The chapters cover topics like staying safe when out running, walk/run intervals, injuries, races, fuelling, training plans ranging from beginner 5k plans to improver marathon plans, and even a section called “Pay it forward”, looking at running groups, volunteering and cheering at races (and even has tips on how to set up your own parkrun).  There are some sections aimed at parents (including specific sections on running while pregnant/breastfeeding and so on), but I just skipped over the parts that weren’t relevant as most of the book was. It did cover some female runner issues not linked to parenthood too (e.g. infertility, chafing). The book was sprinkled with anecdotes and little stories from RMR members and this made the book feel a bit like reading a magazine with lots of different people contributing to it.

Since I started running (back in 2008) the advice around nutrition has really moved on. The book talks about everyone being different, and making sure you are adequately fuelled, but mentions that you can probably run for an hour in the morning before breakfast. Personally I can run much further before breakfast, having worked up from 3 miles to around 15 miles. But when I first started running I remember feeling so terrified that I would collapse while out on a run, because I had read so much information about making sure you eat a snack before you go, and eat as soon as you get home. Of course everyone is different and we are still learning things about the human body, but I felt it was refreshing to read a different take compared to most of the running literature.

I would have found this very useful when I first started running, so if you know someone jut starting out then it would make a great present for them. You can also check out the RMR website for other articles based around running.

Do you like reading books about running? I have really enjoyed the Angharad Finn books (The Way of the Runner and Running with the Kenyans), and Rosie Swale-Pope’s book Just a Little Run Around The World.

Do you like to read? And if so, when? I always read before I go to sleep, but in the holidays I quite like reading for a bit in the afternoon too, with a cup of tea of course.

Do you have something that people always comment on? And if so, how do you respond?

*I was sent this book in exchange for a mention on my blog. All opinions are my own.

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? 

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:

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

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.