Tail walking with a tail, a garden show and a hot race

So on Saturday morning I was off to Letchworth parkrun, to tail walk.  I’ve run it once before, and it’s a lovely two lap route around farm fields and playing fields. As I had a race on Sunday I wanted to tail walk, and I also wanted to visit the town centre as a “weigh and pay” shop had recently opened and I wanted to visit it.

I was very excited to be given an actual tail to wear as tail walker! A giraffe tail! I had to have someone help me to clip it on, and then it was so long it dangled on the floor so I held it over my arm! I didn’t want to lose it out on the course.

It was absolutely baking- 23 degrees when I got out of the car at 8.30, and 27 by the time I finished. The views were stunning across the open countryside, and I could hear so many crickets/grasshoppers in the fields. I was behind a couple of women and then a little further up a lady who announced at the end that she was a 70 year old grandmother. All three of them were running at times and walking at others, it was a tough one and I was really hot and bothered by the end. I finished in 54:16 and headed into town.

I was heading to Bamboo Turtle, which is aiming to be a zero waste shop.  When I was little we always used to go to the weigh and pay shop to get things like cereals and flour, but those sorts of things all closed. This one in Letchworth recently opened- the idea is you bring your own containers, weigh them, write down the weight, then fill them with whatever you are buying (everything was priced per 100g) and then pay. The lady in there was very helpful, saying she could put things back if I had weighed out too much.

They did have jars and things for sale if you didn’t have your own though. I got some coconut chips, almonds and dark chocolate buttons for baking, plus a bamboo straw, although I need something to carry it in (so that if I get an iced drink in town I can use that straw instead of a plastic one).

Once I got home I had a lovely breakfast of a chocolate almond croissant (I bought it in town on Friday as a post crazy-work week treat) and watermelon. Seriously, nothing is better than watermelon when it’s hot.

Then we were off to London with Andy’s parents for the Hampton Court Palace flower show.

Again it was absolutely baking hot.

The gardens were good to see, and we picked up a few ideas for our own. There were also loads of stalls but we didn’t buy any plants as the ground is rock hard at the moment so I don’t think anything would survive for long.

We had thought we might avoid the score from the match, but there was a big screen up showing it, so we heard the two massive cheers which gave away the score somewhat!

Normally I find scarecrows pretty creepy, but this one was very clever- different parts of the body were represented by different vegetables (I think the liver was a butternut squash?).

I’d packed a clif bar and had that at around 5pm. We also took loads of water with us (and there were a few places to refill) but it was just so hot everywhere that I wasn’t feeling great by the end, really craving something salty. I think we did about 12,000 steps walking around (plus to and from the car) and all of that was really in the sun as there wasn’t much shade. By the time we got home it was so late we decided to get a takeaway pizza- something we only normally do if we are with other people. I think the only other time we had one was the day we moved into our house in Hatfield 12 or so years ago! We ended up eating it at 9pm in front of the TV.

Then on Sunday I was off to Ware for a 10k race. I love this race (there’s a 10 mile too, but since it’s been in the summer and not the autumn the 10k is the better option as it’s one lap not two, and there isn’t much shade).

After picking up my number I sat in the shade and seriously considered not running. It was just so hot. I had a nuun tab in water before I left, but hadn’t bothered with breakfast so I could sleep for longer, plus I knew I would not be racing it and I wouldn’t eat breakfast before a training run. It didn’t begin until 10am though the heat was building all the time.

Once we started it was OK, but so hot. I had decided to walk up the hills to save myself from getting overheated and overtired. My legs were not happy though, just lacking energy.

I took a few photos on the way around and enjoyed thanking the marshals. As well as water stations they had splash buckets with sponges so you could cool yourself down. At one point we ran through a housing estate and loads of people were out with their garden hoses offering to spray the runners- it felt so good to be momentarily cooled.

At around 4 miles I bumped into a couple of girls from the club, so I chatted to them for a bit but eventually lost them. The second part of the route is very flat, so apart from walking at the water stations I kept on going. I ended up overtaking a lot of people in the final couple of miles, so I think I paced it OK for me as I didn’t feel awful at the end. I did get overtaken by the lead runners in the 10 mile race, which I don’t think has happened to me before, but it was about finish lines and not finish times for me.

Near the end some children were manning the final splash bucket and had cups, basically offering to throw cups of water over you as you ran past. I said “go on then” and was drenched, but it was so hot that the water dried pretty much instantly.

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I saw Donna (my lovely running club leader) at the end (her boyfriend had finished ahead of me and she’d been cheering people on) so we chatted for a bit once I’d got myself drink and cake for £1- that’s the whole point of this race! Lemon cake was just what I fancied (brunch by then). I got a text pretty much as I crossed the line saying my time was 1:07:40, and they announced your name as you ran in which was a nice touch.

This year as it was the 10th anniversary, you got a t-shirt and a medal. It’s a pretty smart top with black down the sides, although red isn’t really my colour (especially when my face matches it after a run!).

While we were chatting, Daniel, the guy from Ellenbrook Fields parkrun (who I met at Upton parkrun) came up to say hi- he’d run the 10 miles in not much longer than the 10k had taken me. I was very glad I wasn’t going any further. After a chat it was time to head home for a lovely shower (the water worked, hooray) and then basically trying to stay as cool as possible inside. I ended up having a little lie down in the afternoon as I was still feeling tired from the busy week at work, and then after an early dinner we went to the cinema to see Tag (which was sort of OK and funny in places, and then took a weird turn at the end which just seemed inappropriate for that sort of comedy film). At least it was cool in there.

Did you manage to stay cool over the weekend?

Have you seen anything good in the cinema recently? I am looking forward to The Incredibles!

Work (and heat) induced taper

Last Sunday (after a super hot run) I spent a fair bit of time sitting in the shade in the garden, reading a magazine. Andy’s parents popped over for some iced tea, so we sat in the garden although the shade of course moved so we were all pretty hot in the end.

We had to have an early dinner as we were off to see Flight of the Conchords! We were meant to be going a while back, but Bret broke some bones in his hand…

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From their facebook page when the postponement was announced 

No way was he going to be playing guitar, keyboard etc with that.

If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a TV show (started as a radio show) about a band from New Zealand trying to make it in New York. They  write original songs and are brilliant at capturing the essence of other styles of music (they do a song called Inner City Pressure which is a lot like West End Girls by The Pet Shop Boys)- also as Bret has worked on the Muppets Most Wanted soundtrack (one of my favourites) and Moana there is a lot of music pedigree right there (Jermaine is the crab in Moana and also one of the prisoners in Muppets). For the show they stay in character and talk about their music, their touring, and then play new and old songs. They are so multi talented, playing guitars, bass, keyboard, various percussion instruments and even doing the most hilarious rock and roll recorder playing. It was a brilliant evening but a late night as by the time we had driven back it was gone midnight.

Then at work on Monday we had “the call”- Ofsted were coming on Tuesday (I hadn’t packed any lunch due to the late night, instead thinking I’d walk up to the local shops at lunch time, but then once the call came in I didn’t fancy anything funnily enough). Instead of the early night planned, I was at work until late on Monday night and then back in for 6am on Tuesday morning. My original plan was an early morning run on Tuesday (as the club run clashed with the England match) but instead I was up early for a different reason!

Tuesday was a pretty stressful day (although when I got up at 5am and attempted to eat some breakfast I saw the fox cub mooch around our garden, so I enjoyed that part of the day), with lots of meetings during the day- I felt quite nauseous at times and managed to eat an apple and a biscuit at lunch (in between meetings) but that was enough. I got home on Tuesday in time to watch the football, had a shower at half time and was planning to go to bed at 9pm- then of course they went to extra time so even when the football finished I was pretty full of adrenaline again and found it hard to get to sleep.

Then we had sports day which is always fun but really tiring- luckily it was the morning and it was probably the coolest morning of the week. When I got home on Wednesday I sat in the garden for ages, just feeling a bit like I had jet lag.

There were lots of bees buzzing about so I just enjoyed a little time watching them bumble around.

I nearly didn’t go to yoga as it is such hard work, but I knew I’d feel better in the end (plus I pay in advance so I was on the register)- we did lots of twists and held some poses for longer which helped, and then for the final relaxation we had the option of some eye pillows (a bit like beanbags) which really helped to filter out everything else.

On Thursday our yoga at work was a special session focusing on restorative poses. We did some mobilising first (some squats and some other things which I have forgotten) and then spent 5 mins in each of 3 poses. I fell properly asleep in the final one!

I’d said I would do some baking for the summer fair (as I couldn’t make the date to help on a stall) so no time for a run that day either. Instead I walked around to the shops to get some ingredients, baked a couple of batches of cookies, had a shower (not sure if I have mentioned our water woes before but we have had this leak for a while now, something to do with the overflow tank, with various symptoms) which turned out to be a freezing cold shower so I couldn’t wash my hair because of something to do with the tank.

Before the week started I had thought I would have a run after work on Friday, but I needed to pop into town to pick up an order, and by the time I got home I felt so shattered that I decided that I would wash my hair and watch some Wimbledon. So a grand total of zero miles, and two yoga sessions for the week so far. I’d already volunteered to tail walk on Saturday as I had a 10k race on Sunday, so I decided to call it a taper.

Have you still managed running in this heat? 


(Well, maybe not quite, but it’s been very summery).

I love this weather, although I don’t love it for running quite so much! This week looked like this:

Monday- walk

Tuesday- got up at 5.30am so I could have a short run before work, avoiding the heat (club run was cancelled for the evening anyway)

Wednesday- walk plus yoga- we spent the whole time outside again and it was brilliant. We worked super hard with lots of tough warrior poses and lots of side planks and twists, so the final relaxation at the end was even better with the breeze gently rustling the leaves on the trees above us.

Thursday- yoga at work (we were introduced to the downward dog pose this week and I managed to impress everyone by doing it properly, lifting alternate legs up and going into a plank- it reminded me that  the yoga on a Wednesday is a lot of strength work and must be doing me some good). Plus 2 miles around town on my way home.

Friday- a walk in the park, a visit to The Waffle House and then a walk with Andy once I got home.

The lake in Veralanium park

Saturday was my dad’s choice of parkrun as it was his birthday. He had thought of going into Wimbledon Common (as we did last year) to meet up with some of the other tennis officials, but in the end only one of them might have been going, so we stayed local. We met at Panshanger, ran together (well, until the end when I told him to go ahead for the final 200m or so as I was struggling), I had a shower at home, and then we headed over to theirs for a birthday pancake brunch. All is good in the world when we can do parkrun together and then Mum makes us pancakes! Dad is now up to 21 UK courses, so officially a UK parkrun tourist, so I presented him with a cow cowl (tourists can wear them to identify each other) ready for our next outing.

This morning I went out on a 10k run, but it was super hot. After about 4 miles I just felt so boiling, so I walked for a while to cool down.

I love how brown all the grass verges are at the moment. It adds to the feeling of a long hot and dry spell of weather, something which we seem to rarely get any more. It reminds me of summers when I was little, but you know that all it takes is one day of rain for everything to turn green again (don’t get me started on people watering their lawn- our neighbours have set up a sprinkler system and seem to water their lawn for a good 3 hours each day- why???????).

We’ve been having some water woes at home with an overflow pipe first leaking onto our driveway (plus a saga with the first plumber cancelling as his van broke down, rescheduling twice but not coming, then another guy coming a few times to try and troubleshoot)- then last night a different pipe from a different overflow started leaking out the back. The hot water also stopped working (so after parkrun yesterday I managed to put shampoo on before it went freezing cold!) but luckily the immersion worked today.

The garden is still looking happy though- it seems that the dry weather is keeping the slugs at bay, and the bees seem to like these lovely blue delphiniums. I’ve even got a hibiscus flowering so I can pretend that I am in Hawaii.

Finally, a couple of new finds:

First up, these have been on offer in loads of shops. As a veggie I don’t usually eat jelly type sweets as they usually contain gelatin. These are a vegan recipe though, and are the perfect balance of sweet with a sour coating.

And then these- Coconut Collaborative already make amazing little dark chocolate pots, and then these popped up. They basically taste like some sort of amazing caramel cake frosting. The pots are fairly small, (not yoghurt pot size or anything like that) but they are so rich and tasty. Mmmm.

And finally, can I just say how amazing watermelon is? In this weather especially there is nothing better to eat after a hot run.

Are you enjoying this hot weather? 

Foo Fighters and then a quieter weekend!

So on Friday night we were off to London to see The Foo Fighters- Andy had got me tickets for my birthday. Before that I had one of the most stressful journeys driving home- mainly traffic at a standstill everywhere I turned, and then a dramatic bit: I got overtaken by a car driving at a mental speed along a narrow country lane, and then a split second later three police 4×4’s went passed with their sirens on (I just thought they were pulling the car over for dangerous driving)- the car didn’t pull over and they zoomed off into the distance, closely followed by three more police cars, and then one more. There was a helicopter circling overhead, and when I arrived in the village there were cars all over the road and the route I needed was closed (I think some cars had crashed- one had a wing mirror missing) so I took yet another diversion, and then got stuck in some roadworks (turned out it was armed police chasing a car all the way from Luton). My journey which is 35 mins on a good day and 45 mins on a bad day was around 85 mins- argh! Andy had been in London for 3 days so as soon as I got home I had to get back in the car and pick him up from the station- his trains had been bad that day too, and the way we were going to go was out of bounds as there were no trains running any more, so we had to leave asap, drive to Cheshunt and get the overground in. We made it to the stadium (the Olympic park) with 10 mins to spare!

What can I say? They were awesome! It was a totally rocking night, Dave Grohl was on top form, leaping about the stage, running up the catwalk style thing into the crowd, screaming into the mic. At one point the drumkit was raised on vertical pedestals, and Taylor Hawkins did the most immense drum solo (when we last saw them at Brixton Academy, they had two drum kits and did a sort of drum-off battle). To showcase each band member they played little sections of songs, even singing some of Grease Lightning to showcase the bass- something I never thought I’d see. Taylor Hawkins did a mean Freddie Mercury impression (the call and response bit- see this video for what I mean) (he was wearing the same swim trunks on Friday!) and then the two of them swapped places and sang Under Pressure (my fave Queen song), with Taylor Hawkins doing the Freddie Mercury bit and Dave Grohl doing the David Bowie bit and the drumming. Totally amazing. There was lots of Dave Grohl playing the crowd, and lots of f-bombs. At one point I mentioned to Andy that this was the total opposite of our last gig (Gomez- they are super chilled out)- he said back to me “Whippin’ Picadilly Mother F**ers”- this was the style from the Foos! A proper stadium rock show anyway.

It finished with fireworks as they played Everlong- just fantastic. When it finished we had 13 mins to get the next train (or a long wait for the next one) so we ran, dodging the crowds, getting on the train with 30 seconds to spare!

A late night on Friday meant I was glad of a local parkrun on Saturday morning. Dad was off out later in the morning so we met at Heartwood Forest- he can cycle there from home. I left it a little late (also, saw the fox cub in my garden at 8.30 right before I left) and could not find parking right away, so only just made the meeting place with 5 mins to spare, but as the actual start is a little walk from the meeting place and finish area, they usually begin a little late so I was fine. Herts were celebrating This Girl Can by having women as RD’s for all the parkruns that day, and they asked all the girls to step forwards at the start for a photo. Most men didn’t mind, but there were one or two who did not want to give up their starting position (even though everyone moved back after the photo…).

Heartwood Forest is nearly two laps- you start half way up a hill, run to the top for gorgeous views of the countryside, down to the finish area, and then do a complete lap (with the hill being longer)- I ran with Dad for the first lap but he mentioned to me that he wanted to push the pace for the second lap as he hadn’t done much exercise this week, and that was fine with me as I was tired. It’s amazing how fast he ends up going- he finished in 25:36 and I came in at 28:56, so he was way ahead in the end considering we ran the first 3k ish together. I did walk on the long hill for a bit and used the time to take a few photos (the ones above).

After I finished the RD was trying to hold up the big This Girl Can frame and take photos through it, so I offered to hold it for her, and then as it was still wobbly Dad held the other side. She managed to get a few snaps of runners coming towards the finish line.

They then asked to take a pic of me too- I felt all sweaty and hot but actually it looks OK (and bonus, I’ve kept my eyes open which is a Very Hard Thing for me in photos).

I mentioned the other day that I had been feeling unusually tired, and the lovely CT (check out her blog if you like to read about running with a dog combined with lots of amazing nature photos) commented that I could possibly have a virus. There have been a few going around at work, including slapped cheek, and when I actually looked at the symptoms, I think it could have been something like that, as I had a headache for several days (putting that down to be tired) and I have a rash on my arms but put it down to heat rash. Anyway, other than the late night on Friday, the weekend was a chilled affair. I watched a bit of TV while I had my breakfast, then pottered around a bit.

We then headed off to the Hitchin lavender farm- the main fields weren’t quite all purple yet, and we got there fairly late in the afternoon, so we just had a look at the display fields and then went to the cafe.

I had a lovely pot of rooibos tea  with lavender and bergamot, and we shared some lemon cake. We were spoilt for choice over the cakes though- beetroot chocolate cake looked good, as did the honey and lavender cake. I bought a couple of little lavender plants to put in an empty pot, and so when we got home and it was cooler I did a little bit of weeding and planted out the lavender.

On Sunday morning I had a slow and steady 10k run (no walking, but a very slow pace overall), sat in the garden and read a magazine while my hair started to dry, watched the football and then walked into town to get my free Vitality Starbucks (and some vitamins). We’re off to the cinema in a bit to see Ocean’s 8 which I am looking forward to- hopefully good fun and nothing too taxing.

I hope you had a good weekend?


Lots of yoga outside (and some baking)

Photo not actually of where we have yoga outside, but just to illustrate this in case you have forgotten what outside may look like…

For the last couple of weeks we have headed outside towards the end of our yoga sessions. The yoga I go to is from 7.45-9pm (well, more like 9.15) and so it’s only been light enough to do this recently. The little room which we use overlooks a secluded communal garden area, which is gorgeously decorated with fairy lights. After the normal past of the session (warm up, whatever bends/ twists we are working on) we then took our mats into the garden onto the grass. The first time we did this, we practised handstands. Now, I could never do a handstand as a child, but they are sort of launched into (you remember, people would stand up, then all in one move throw their hands on the ground and jump their feet up). For yoga, you begin with your hands on the floor and jump your feet up. We did it in pairs, with the partner standing up ready to steady you by holding your hips. The person I was paired with used to be a gymnast, so she was pretty strong and very steady. However, I was not. Although I did get the furthest I have ever got with it. I think I am partly very nervous about it, but also my shoulders are not very strong, so once I get upside-down my arms collapse. But in the week I have been trying to do some press ups to work on strengthening my arms, and I think it’s been helping. This time I almost managed it- eg I was being held for a split second by my hips before I came down. I was tired by this point as I’d been practising the jumps for a bit, which is draining on the arms.

Then last week we again did the warm up inside and then took our mats outside. This time one of the inversions we practised was the headstand. I can’t do the normal headstand at all as I just can’t get my legs close enough to my body to be stable before my legs go up, but I can partially do the tripod headstand. (If you click on that link, I can do the bit where you rest your arms on your knees, but I’ve never got further on my own). Last week I managed to get my right leg straight up, but just could not push my left leg up at all. This was without being steadied, whereas before I’ve only partially managed it with someone holding me. Progress!

Then this week was the day before the summer solstice, and we had been told to be prepared to be outside for the whole time. I took a sweater with me although I only needed it for the very beginning and very end. There is something quite earthy and magical about doing yoga outside, under the trees, with the sound of the wind rustling the leaves and birds singing. After some warms ups the main part was sun salutations- last year we did the same thing where we did 3 sets of 9 sun salutations (and a set is one on the right and one on the left). In between we did some other poses to help release shoulders and wrists and by the end I was really feeling it. It’s also a bit hypnotic doing the same move over and over again. Before our final relaxation we did some partner work on shoulders (sitting back to back and linking arms or twisting around) which really helped. The final relaxation was just so peaceful and grounding. I was feeling very zen after!

Generally though I’ve been quite tired recently. This time of year is always draining and I think it’s been affecting me more than I realised at first. For the summer term we have had a staff yoga session on a Thursday- it’s been for complete beginners and is a slightly different style to the class I am used to but I’ve enjoyed it so much. As Thursday is also a run day, I’ve been stopping on my way home for a short run after yoga, but I’m not sure if that has been too much.

Last Thursday the run after yoga felt like wading through mud, but we did a lot of leg work so that could have been why. At the weekend (after Upton something parkrun on Saturday) I did an 8 mile run on the Sunday and had to walk a few times- not sure why as the route isn’t particularly hilly and I wasn’t going fast.

After that I did some gardening, and part of that was planting on seedlings which I did crouched down, and my legs regretted that later! On Monday we had a nice walk in the evening to stretch out my legs but they were still sore.

On Tuesday my back and legs were sore (and my wrists, no idea why) but I went out on a run to see if it would ease my aches. I probably shouldn’t have- just under 4 miles took me just under an hour as I walked so much of it. I just felt shattered.

It was a lovely day to be out, and I saw so many rabbits, so I ended up taking a lot of photos to distract myself. I decided then that I would not be running after yoga this week, and so hopefully I’ll be feeling better by parkrunday.

I did get some baking done at the weekend:

Lovely Pudding Stop peanut butter and salted caramel brownies.

The caramel is in the middle but lots of it leaked out during the baking.  They are very tasty as they are all gooey in the middle (and of course, peanut butter).

I’m excited for the weekend as we are going to see The Foo Fighters tomorrow evening- Andy got me tickets for my birthday.

What do you have planned for the weekend? What would be your ideal brownie? I do like ones with raspberry and white chocolate, or anything nutty. Are you happier exercising outside or indoors? I would pretty much always choose a run outside over a treadmill, and there is something so much better about fresh air.