Rushmoor parkrun- one step closer to Bingo!

Last weekend we headed to Aldershot/Farnborough on the Friday night, as it is on the way to the New Forest. Originally the plan was to stay further south so I could do the Queen Elizabeth Country Park parkrun, but we couldn’t find a hotel near/cheap enough, so this was plan B. The hotel (one of those Village hotels) was around a mile from the start of Rushmoor parkrun (not to be confused with Rushmere parkrun in Buckinghamshire….) so I didn’t need to leave that early.

Anyway, it turned out that the business park where the hotel is was a mile away, but the hotel to the parkrun start was more like 2 miles- whoops! Combined with a slight panic when I ran past some army signs about dog patrols and this meant I arrived more than a little flustered! When I was close I re-started the directions because I wasn’t 100% sure I was in the right place having seen basically no runners (and it gets several hundred runners).

They had a really friendly welcome board with some photos of the core team, the volunteer roster, and pace per km and per mile for a huge range of finish times.

They were having a junior takeover  (I think to promote their newly started junior parkrun) so all the main jobs (including the briefings) were by children (with their adults hovering and whispering hints). In the main briefing they asked for where the tourists were from- someone near me said “Southampton” and they then asked if anyone had come from further. I was about to say Hertfordshire, when someone behind me said “Germany” and then someone else said “South Africa”- I think they win!

The course began in some playing fields and was two laps, all fairly flat. The main paths were quite pebbly (bigger lumps than gravel) so I ended up running on the grass for the field bit. I’d imagine in winter it would be tougher to do that. The route then went out of the fields and along a pavement for a bit, before heading down next to a canal- this bit was lovely (and also shaded)- before running close to the start/finish area to do it all again. I find two lap courses seem to go by fairly quickly- it doesn’t seem long before you are back at the start and then you only have one lap to go.

I tried to keep in mind that I had a 10k race the next day and realised after the first two miles I was going a bit fast, so I tried to ease off a bit.  I finished in 28:51 and when I looked at the parkrun challenges chrome thingy I realised I’d filled in another slot on the parkrun bingo as I needed a 51! This sort of made up for the not ticking off the letter q- I only have 3 left for bingo now.

Anyway, I was pretty tired after that and Andy did message me to say he’d come and pick me up in the car, but with all the army stuff around I wasn’t quite sure where he’d park or where we would meet (there seemed to be lots of clearways with no stopping etc.), so I ran back (and instead of going back the way I came through the business park, blindly followed google maps on my phone which then took me into a bridge without a pavement – luckily a bit of the fence was trampled down so I could hop over it and get to an underpass!) – I got back around 10am so not too bad.

Anyway, after that it was time for tea and a cinnamon roll (the bonus of the Village hotels is that they tend to have a Starbucks in the lobby, and Andy had picked us up breakfast while I was running back) and a quick shower (they downside of those hotels is the 11am checkout time which doesn’t give much time for drying hair!).

We drove to some nearby gardens which were included in the National Trust pass (not actually NT though) and looked at the beautiful flowers. Then we drove into the New Forest and picked up our numbers (and paid for parking), before heading to Lepe, by the water, for a lovely walk along the coast. There was lots of info about the war as it was used to preparations for D-Day, so it was quite interesting. Despite being a bit overcast you could see across to the Isle of Wight and over to Portsmouth.

There was a nice looking tearoom by the water so we shared a piece of cherry and almond cake (a bit like a bakewell slice) and then drove to see Andy’s Grandma.

We’d booked Bill’s in Southampton for dinner, and then had a bit of a wander around IKEA after that (we know how to live!) before getting our kit out ready for the New Forest 10k the next morning.

Have you ever seen a junior takeover? Do you have a local junior parkrun? There is one around a mile from here, but I’ve never been as I’ve not got children- I think it might be a bit weird to turn up to one without any.

Bevendean Down parkrun- what amazing views!

As I am sure you will know, I love any excuse to visit Brighton, and so to make the most of the final weekend of the school holidays, we booked a Friday night down there.

The weather was amazing and we enjoyed a long walk to Hove prom and back before having dinner in Leon.

Of course I would parkrun in the morning, and have already been to Hove Prom and Preston Park a couple of times, and Brighton & Hove once, so I started looking to see if a different Brighton one would be possible. We got the train down so it had to be either a runnable distance from the hotel, or accessible via public transport. I had discounted Bevendean Down parkrun on a previous visit as it looked a little way out of the city, but when I revisited the course page it mentioned a train station, Moulsecoomb, around a mile from the start.  Excitingly (for me), this was two train stops and a 6 min journey from the main Brighton station, so I decided to head there.

Sign to the park/ views from the start/the path to get there/ my map showing where I was compared to the start

I bought my tickets the night before to save on the morning panic, and had emailed the link from the course page so I could look at it on maps once I got there. Thankfully I left loads of time, getting a train that arrived at 8:17 am (with a backup of a train 10 mins later). The course page does warn that it’s hard to find, and it turned out I went a different (slightly longer) way than it described. I was running along a residential street and saw the sign to the park, so followed the path instead of the map for the last bit. As I reached the lower end of the field, I saw a couple of runners heading to the left, so I followed them and could see a few high-viz people so I knew I was in the right place- phew! I got there at 8:45 so I was glad I hadn’t got the later train.

Everyone collected by the finish area (the start and finish are in slightly different places)- there was a tarp to put any belongings on, so I left my jumper there. There weren’t many people and I ended up chatting to a girl in a Finsbury Park apricot top, and her mum, who’s come along to walk the first lap.

At 9:00 everyone walked back along the edge of the field (back the way I had come) to the start. I was looking for the amazing views that were promised, but all I could see were the houses in the estate.

I didn’t actually walk on the first lap but my running was so slow it looks like I did!

However, I needn’t have worried as look at that elevation- we were going up for some fantastic views. They warned the first timers that it’s two laps, and behind the first hill that you could see, was another, even bigger hill, so we should pace ourselves. I was going along for the views and had no illusions about any sort of good time.

It was a small group (32 runners) that set off, and even as I ran past the finish area (it’s two and a bit laps) I was very near the back.

The course started by the bottom of the field, running along to the finish, before turning and running up along the field- it was as I got to the end of this that I could see the hill that they meant! It was steep and long.

However, when you got to the top of the hill you were rewarded with the most amazing views-you could see all the way down to the sea, including the big tower (i360 thing).

Then you ran down where we had started, and then did that all again. I had worn my trail shoes (again it was advised on the course page) and I was glad I had as the ground was uneven and I found it hard to run fast on the downhill. On the second lap I could see a group of people ahead of me all walking, so I thought I’d catch them up, but then as the hill carried on I ended up walking too!

The marshals were fantastic, and lots of people were waiting and chatting by the finish area. I got one of my highest token numbers (28) but my slowest time (minus tail-walking)- 36:04- that shows you how tough it was as it was 5 mins slower than my Tring time from a few weeks ago- also a hilly route.

The lady I had been chatting to offered me a lift back to the station, which was so kind of her, and on the walk back to their car we came the way described- there were even parkrun arrows on the street to show how to get to the start.

I met Andy in Cafe Coho for pancakes and then we spent a lovely day walking around Brighton (35,000 steps in total!) but I’ll get to that another day.

So, another Brighton parkrun done, and I must agree that this is a pretty  special one. Yes, it’s tough and hilly, but who cares about times when you have amazing views like that?

Tring parkrun round 2, tea and tidying the garden

*For some reason some of the photos are upside down in this- no idea why and I will have a go at sorting them out! Sorry!

Tring parkrun was the 10th parkrun venue that I visited, not long after discovering the joys of parkrun tourism and around the time that I decided to try and run all of the parkruns in Hertfordshire.  We are so lucky in Herts that we have so many stunning and varied courses but Tring was always mentioned when we spoke to locals because of the amazing views. It is right by the Chiltern hills and although it’s a hilly one, the views were meant to be worth the effort. I went with my dad in October 2016, and it was a super foggy day, so although we loved the route, we didn’t get the sweeping dramatic views so we always said we would go back. This summer I was only around for a couple of weekends, and as Dad been cycling across The Ridgeway ( a trail crossing the Chilterns) for a few days we decided to keep with the theme of the Chilterns and head to Tring on the 11th August. Thankfully the weather in August had no fog in store for us!

The course had changed a tiny bit since we were last there- starting on the field next to the avenue of trees (last time we ran through the avenue of trees at the start) but on the whole it was the same- run up a hill, run into some woods and keep going up, then go up a bit more, run along the ridge and enjoy the views, run down, across some fields and near the finish before a little bit more of an uphill.

My brother came too, and the three of us started together but within a few metres Dad was heading off ahead so we all ended up being spread out. It was very enjoyable- breath taking hills and breathtaking scenery. I did walk up a few of the steepest bits as I felt I was sort of comedy running and really going more slowly.

I finished slightly slower than my last visit, but with the heat that wasn’t a surprise, and the point was to enjoy it (which I did).

After we finished it was back home for Mum’s pancakes- always a fab start to the weekend. I walked into town in the afternoon and one of my knees was pretty sore- I think the steep downhills had taken their toll.

The holidays have been going by so fast- I’ve been enjoying running first thing in the morning, and going out on lots of walks. I spotted loads of blackberries on a run, so returned there on a walk later armed with some bags to collect them- I should have also taken something to wipe my hands with as I had very sticky hands for the walk home!

I finally signed up to the Bird and Blend (formerly Bluebird Tea co- I keep forgetting they have changed their name) tea club where you get a small selection of teas each month.

This month the theme was honey, but they were all vegan teas (I signed up to the veggie/vegan one anyway, although I am sure they were sorting it out so that all of their teas were veggie- not containing cochineal and so on).

The three teas have all been delicious, but “Honey, I’m Comb” has to be my favourite- black tea with cacao nibs. I was also very excited to get some Red Velvet tea in the sales- they had sold out on the first day and I was too slow in ordering, but then it was back in stock so I left them a note on the confirm order page, and they replied in their shipping note which was a lovely touch.

I’m not opening it until I have finished the tea club teas though, otherwise the tea cupboard gets too confusing.

Time on my hands at home has meant that loads of jobs have been ticked off the list too- from going through all of my clothes and sorting out a bag for charity, tidying the utility room (I found things still wrapped in bubble wrap from when we moved house over 2 years ago!) and finding a few things at home to sell on ebay, it’s all been therapeutic. Tidying the garden is the most enjoyable one. We have been adding plants, and although the hot weather meant the ground was rock hard and impossible to dig or weed, a few days of rain sorted it and I’ve been out there plenty of times.

One problem we keep encountering is the vast amount of junk buried just below the surface of the soil- I was trying to plant a little blackcurrant bush and when I dug down I found this huge paving slab. We also have a mountain of lumps of concrete- some I dug out of the ground a while back, and some were just left in a pile behind the shed (from the people who lived here before us). My dad keeps doing tip runs for us as he has a big people carrier and can take the seats out. We had arranged one morning for him and mum to come over, have coffee and a walk in Panshanger park, and then load up the car. However, it was pelting with rain so we opted to stay inside and hope it would ease off. It slowed, but didn’t stop, so in the end we spent a good hour carting the blocks of concrete to the car. I didn’t take a “before” photo, but there were three layers of concrete lumps in the car before we put any of the other junk (wood with nails in it, an old rusty chiminea thing) on top. My arms were aching the next day, and poor Dad had to then unload it all at the tip when he got there. It made a huge difference, but Dad was a bit annoyed that he didn’t manage to clear it all, so when we saw them on the Bank holiday he told me he would be over at 2 the next day to clear the rest of it away.

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

(Top right at some of the lumps of concrete that I had previously dug out of the ground). I’d been on a run in the morning and then pottered around at home, and we then spent just under 2 hours loading yet more concrete lumps into the car. Some of them were too big to lift, so Dad hammered them into chunks. He took the rest of the big logs, and again the back of the car was completely full when he left. I am so annoyed that I didn’t do a before and after pic, because it has made a huge difference, and now there are only a few remaining lumps (plus an open bag of concrete which filled with rainwater and then went solid). More therapeutic activities anyway.

Which parkruns would you like to go back to the most? 

Have you signed up to any mail subscription services? Years ago I used to get a weekly Graze box but it seems like you can get their snacks in lots of shops now.

Cream teas, cinnamon rolls and sorting by colour

I am now in the glorious part of the summer holidays where I am not sure what the day is any more- my google calendar is making sure I don’t miss anything!

First up, much to my excitement, the parkrun show podcast is back!! It’s now called “With me now”, but still hosted by Danny and Nicola (fun fact- Danny’s parents both volunteer at Ellenbrook Fields parkrun pretty much every week). I used to listen to the old one, and when it finished I found the parkrun adventurers, which is an Australian one.  I’ve quite enjoyed the official one (Free, Weekly, Timed) although that is more for maybe new parkrunners, whereas the others are maybe more for the parkrun obsessive.

So, what have I been up to these past couple of weeks since getting back from Copenhagen?

The garden has been keeping my busy, although with the heat it’s been restricted to late evening when it’s cooler. I finally moved the pots off the drive (they were creating a buffer zone between the leak and the house, but now the leak has been stopped temporarily they didn’t need to be there)- they add a bit of colour to our front garden.

After an 8 mile run in the morning I met up with some friends from work for a cream tea at Bill’s.

Although that turned into a bit of a panic as I had booked one local to me (because St Albans had no availability), and they phoned a few hours before saying they had no water so had to cancel. After a few messages back and forth on whatsapp, we decided to risk the St Albans one- it turned out they don’t take bookings for the afternoon so there was loads of space! I was planning on walking into town anyway, so I drove to the edge of St Albans and walked in- 24,000 steps by the end of the day wasn’t too shabby!

On the Tuesday I went into work and organised my new classroom (all the furniture was moved to one part of the room as the floors get cleaned)- I took some time out to put all my story books in colour order. You have no idea how much this pleases me to look at!

On the Wednesday I did a 4.5 mile run and then a bit of yoga when I got back. Later I walked to town and enjoyed my free Starbucks, taking the time to sit in the cafe and watch the world go by.  I then walked in again in the afternoon because I had ordered a new phone and it was ready to collect, so I ended up doing just over 22,000 steps and the second walk was not so enjoyable as it was just boiling.

We did cool down in the evening by going to the cinema to see the Skyscraper film which was fairly easy going and quite funny in places, although I can’t watch any of the bits where people dangle off buildings.

I heart my new phone case

On Thursday I did a 5 mile run in the morning, and then we were off to catch the Eurostar to Amsterdam in the evening (I’ll do a separate post about that at some point)- we got back on Sunday.

As I didn’t run over the weekend, I went out for 10 miles on Monday morning.

When I got back I made myself French toast for breakfast and watched the birds in the garden.

On Tuesday I met a friend at the Rickmansworth Aquadrome (a bit like a lake or reservoir) for a walk, before heading to Cinnamon Square for what she informed me were amazing cinnamon rolls. I was not disappointed- these were so good. I took home one cinnamon square and one sticky bun (covered in pecans) for us to share at a later date. Andy could not wait and had his half of the cinnamon bun before I could even take a photo!

Later we popped over to see our niece and nephew as he was turning 1.

On Wednesday I did a 5 mile run first thing and then I met my parents, sister and niece at Shenley tea rooms where we had a cream tea before having a bit of a walk. When I got home I spent a while in the garden, clearing away more dead branches (we still have things left from the autumn) and cutting back a few plants that were struggling with the heat. I also started to sort out a bag of clothes for the charity shop- I need to go through the wardrobe and finish this as I only managed to finish a couple of drawers.

On Thursday after seeing some family (we went to the park in the rain for a bit) I went a bit stir crazy at home with all the rain (not helped by our internet being down, so I couldn’t do any work, and could not watch any of the things I’ve been saving on netflix for said rainy day…)I worked by way through a pile of magazines, had many cups of tea and in the end I went out on a walk and got rather drenched, and then tried to make jam (I say tried, because even though the bit I tested was fine, the stuff in jars didn’t set so I ended up doing it again on Friday- more on that another time as that could be an essay in itself!).

Which podcasts do you enjoy?  Do you like to organise things by colour or any other ways? How do you occupy yourself on rainy days?

Amager Fælled parkrun! Danish parkrun tourism!

I’ll get to the rest of Copenhagen in another post (we arrived early on Friday morning and came back on Sunday). We stayed a few metro stops from the city centre (the Crowne Plaze Towers hotel opposite Ørestad station and right by the huge Field’s shopping mall), handily placed around 3km from the start of Amager Fælled parkrun.  The directions looked fairly simple as all I had to do was either run up the straight road and then turn left into the park, or get off at the university metro stop and head into the park.

(Our hotel was by the mall on the map so you can see it looked relatively simple). It was super hot so in the end I decided to get the metro, although this added to the stress a bit (not because of navigating the metro, as that was super simple with either a north or south-going metro, every 5 or so minutes) but because my phone was playing up and not always unlocking and the metro ticket was a 48 hour pass purchased online, so if I had been asked for a ticket I would have needed to show the text message.

Anyway, I thought I had prepared well, by emailing myself a link to the map (on the parkrun course page, if you look at the map, you can select the “share” icon and email it to yourself, which means when you then open the map via the link on your phone, both the  parkrun route and your location show up), but my phone then started zooming out so much that I could see the whole of Europe on my screen- argh! I’d read that it was very much a last-minute parkrun, in that people would appear at 8.55 and set it up. Fine, but if I was in the wrong part of the park that  would be no good. It wasn’t a flat grassy park where you could see across, it was full of bushes and trees, with paths between them, meaning no last minute dashes across to the right place.

The entrance to the park

Thankfully as I was wandering in, clearly looking confused and probably talking to myself, a runner overtook me, turned and saw my top, and pointed the way for me. I waved a thanks to her, as she then turned off left, but had indicated that I needed to go straight on. A little later I came across a cross-roads of paths, and could not decide (and again the phone wasn’t working), but after seeing a few people up ahead decided to go that way. As I got closer to the group of people, one person came up to me (seeing my parkrun apricot top I suppose) and asked me if this was where it started.  I admitted that I didn’t know, and she told me it was a lot of English tourists plus some locals that were new to parkrun, so no-one knew so far where the start was. Fingers crossed we were in the right place! At around 8.50 the crowd of people moved a little further down the track to a clearing, where someone got out a tarp (for water bottles etc) and someone else put down cones for the finish funnel- phew!

The briefing at the start

The run briefing began in Danish, and seeing as all I can remember from my time in Denmark was how to count to ten, I worked out the 5k, 2 laps part, and then there were some claps (someone waved so we knew that was a milestone of some sort). A guy sidled over and said to me and someone else that he would translate for us if they said anything important, but then the guy doing the briefing switched to English and said “any tourists here today? From England?” Lots of people put their hands up, and then one lady said she was from Australia. “You win” he told her. He explained that there would not be marshals out on the course, but it was signposted and you could just follow the person in front. He then quickly ran through the route, told us it was the first parkrun outside of the UK and was coming up to being 10 years old, before showing us to the start line (back along the path where we first waited). A line had been created (it looked like flour) on the floor to show the start line, and then it was a quick countdown and we were off.

From their facebook page- one of the volunteers must know a short cut as he was waiting on the first lap with his camera taking pictures of everyone.

It was absolutely baking. On Friday the temperature had got to over 30C, and the Saturday was meant to peak at 29, but there was little shade and a breeze only appeared in a couple of places.

I had seen on the results that it was a fairly speedy one, with final finishers coming in before 40 minutes, and I think I tried to keep up with the pack at first but it soon thinned out and I ended up mainly by myself. I ran behind this guy in the blue top (you can see a bit of him in the photo) and it had 50 and the parkrun logo on it. I wondered for a while if the milestone tops were a different colour in Denmark, and then realised that it seemed the same shade as the 500 top, so perhaps one of the 0’s came off. However when I looked at the results there was no-one with that many runs (438 was the highest I found) so I am not sure. Any ideas?

I enjoyed running the route- every now and then you had to look out for arrows on the floor and at one point during the second lap (when we were all further apart) I did wonder if I had missed an arrow, but then I noticed the fenced off field and remembered running by it before. When I ran past the start/finish area on my first lap, there were loads of people cheering (RD/ timer/ scanners etc)- they had these little hand held clapper things and were cheering in both English and Danish, including the lovely but very not true chant of “you look beautiful”.

Follow the arrows…

I was so hot by the end- my face seems to radiate the heat- so I wasn’t really putting in a fast finish. It was one of my highest placings though (47/67 runners- it was my 6th best finishing position). As soon as I finished I got my barcode scanned. The lady told me she was very happy that my wrist band scanned, and I told her I had a backup on me too. She showed me a notepad, and explained that they were ready for anything. As I stood in the shade to cool down, she was writing down the barcode for someone who had it up on their phone (DFYB people).

Although there was no cafe nearby, people were hanging around, sitting in the small patches of shade and cheering everyone else in. I chatted briefly to the lady who came up to me at the start (and her husband)- they were from Cumbria and here on holiday. I was surprised to see in the results that they had only done a couple of parkruns before this one as when I was chatting to the lady she was raving about how brilliant parkrun was (I’m not saying you can’t love it from the start, but seeking one out on holiday seems like something you would do once Saturday morning is always a parkrunday for you).

Anyway, I was hot and thirsty so I headed back to the metro, getting back to the hotel for about 10am. I had lots of water and a cool shower and then we headed to the shopping centre to get a cinnamon roll for breakfast- what else can you do in Denmark?

That was my 160th run, a nice number to do my 3rd country with.

I do like the badges on the tourist running challenges– now I have a new flag!

Where would your ideal parkrun holiday be?  They are in so many countries now- how about Germany combined with a Christmas market trip? Or they posted about a potential NYD double with Copenhagen and then Malmo…