Panshanger Midweek 5 miles (including a mini frog) and the final week

This week, because I was running a 5 mile race on Wednesday, I skipped the club run and went out on my own- I was going to do 2 miles (as I didn’t want to do too much as it was again on consecutive days) but I got a bit lost and ended up doing 3.

For the final week of term (which was not at all “winding down” as some people think- I had 7 meetings this week to fit around normal teaching…) I was given some lovely gifts from co-workers and the children, including this lovely cream tea kit.

It contained homemade scones, a tea bag, coaster and mini jam pot- I decided I would have that after my race.

I could not decide on what to eat during the day, and poor planning ended up in a fail- I had a mini bagel for lunch in the end (toasted) and then a piece of toast when I got home-I didn’t get back until 6, and I needed to leave before 6.45.  Anyway, worse things have happened at sea.

I did this race last year and so I knew it would be the type of low key event I love. I drove and parked and within 5 minutes of parking I had picked up my number and found my crew.

I decided to not look at the time I did last year as I didn’t want any pressure, I just wanted to enjoy it (despite all the pictures looking like I was having a grim time, I promise I loved it!). The weather had been overcast but it was pretty good running weather (for July).

The start is next to the lakes in the park (around 3km of the regular parkrun course) and while we were standing at the start line we saw a teeny frog hopping about in the grass. I don’t mind frogs but I don’t want to touch them, and we tried to shoo it out of the way but it was hopping nearer the middle of the crowd. Luckily a guy stood near us picked it up and put it on the other side of the tape, so it was saved- phew.

Back to the race- it starts on a hill which is pretty mean! I actually had thoughts of walking, but then told myself off. I really should have warmed up a bit….

It’s a very up and down route with lovely views of the park, and the first mile and a bit are away from the parkrun route (to the old oak tree) so it’s good to have a change of scenery and not feel like you know it too well. It felt fairly muggy once we got going and I kept wiping my face with my sleeve as sweat was pouring all over my face. At the 2 mile point you run back through the start area, and we could see the kids finishing the fun run (which started right after the main race).

The route is hard to explain- starting in the middle with three out and back loops each time returning to the middle before beginning the next loop.

I knew there was a big hill coming but could not remember where, as the next bit was in a part of the park that is still usually closed to the public (unlike the oak tree part where you can walk or run there any time). I’d already decided I was walking up the hill- my legs felt tired and I think I probably hadn’t had enough to drink during the day.

When I reached the hill I ran up around 1/3, walked, and then when I got close to the top started running again.

Then after a very steep downhill it was onto to the final couple of miles- it follows the end of the parkrun route, up the finish hill, and then back through a field towards the race start/finish area- a lovely downhill and flat part, and the sun even came out.

I’d packed a few coins in my pocket as I knew the coffee van would be there, and so as soon as I finished I headed to the queue- I really fancied a chai latte.

I bumped into Elaine (my running friend from our Sweatshop days) and we chatted for ages- I love this sort of thing about running.

The OH crew then came to find me so we could have our medal photo- no idea what I am looking at!

Then it was time to head home- it was the most gorgeous sunset. I checked my results- 49.37- not too shabby on a fairly undulating course. Strava told me I was trending slower on this route, with a very downward looking graph (I think it is always the same steepness) but in fact when I looked I had 49.43 chip time last year so I did in fact get a course pb.

After a shower I sat down and enjoyed my scones- they were delicious.

Onto the rest of the week. Last Tuesday (Prime day) I finally relented and ordered a new Garmin. My old one is 5 years old (I think- it’s the only one I have ever had) and it is starting to peel away from the strap a bit, and does not always locate satellites very quickly, plus I fancied one with bluetooth so I don’t need to plug it in to upload my runs each time. Anyway, it turned into a hoo-hah because each time I logged on it would say “arriving tomorrow”- for a whole week. In the end I called up and they said it had been lost in the post so they sent me a new one.

I was very excited when it finally arrived on Thursday (over a week later)!  I had a bit of a play on Thursday but in the end decided to charge it up and work it out at the weekend.

Friday was the last day of term (hooray)- one of my colleagues drew me this amazing Totoro card- she knows me so well! This mini orchid is beautiful and is going to go in my office once I have sorted out a bigger desk.

After dinner we had a walk around while I wore my new watch- I had a bit of trouble sorting out the bluetooth but once that was sorted it was very easy to use, and I love that it sent the run to Garmin/Strava right away- I don’t mind when I am at home but I always worry about the run not saving properly once there are a few on there, so if I am on holiday it will stop that from happening. Plus it turns out it is also a step counter and activity tracker so it can replace my vivofit (which is nearly 3 years old).

Do you like frogs? I like seeing them but I am worried about treading on them- when I was little I thought I was jumping from stone to stone, and just before I landed, the “stone” hopped away, and the thought of what it would have felt like was traumatic for me (and of course I don’t want to kill a frog). Are you good with technology? I still feel like everything moves a bit too fast- as soon as I work out how to use something, it has been replaced (I hand wrote all my A level coursework as it was quicker than typing, and only really started using computers and even emails when I was at uni- how times change!).

A couple of cinema trips and more new running routes

Last Wednesday it was the last yoga session (for me) of the term- they don’t run in the holidays and next week I am doing a race on Wednesday evening. We were back inside as it had rained a lot (we did a 5 mile run the night before and got rather wet, although not as wet as during our 8 miles from a few weeks ago). On my way home the sky was an amazing lavender colour- just perfect.

On Thursday evening we went to the cinema to see Baby Driver, which I really enjoyed. I loved how it focused on the music, and it just seemed like a great action film (however, prison has not been kind to the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne…). I think the last film I saw at the cinema was Guardians of the Galaxy which seems like ages ago now.

On Friday we watched the Beauty and the Beast remake. Now, I am not a huge fan of the original- I was never a Cinderella/ Belle/ Sleeping Beauty person- give me The Lion King or Little Mermaid or Jungle Book any day. So maybe I was not the best person to watch it, but I just couldn’t help thinking all the way through “I could be watching the cartoon version” (or even better, I could be watching Moana…). The new Jungle Book was brilliant- I loved how they used the songs in a different way, and the child actor was amazing. However, this was so meh. It was also so long! My patience ran out in the end.

I decided to go to Panshanger parkrun on Saturday-barcode scanning there last week reminded me how beautiful it is, and I had to be back fairly swiftly as we were fireplace shopping and had afternoon cinema tickets- it’s only a 5 minute drive compared to Ellenbrook’s 15.

I got there fairly early as the parking can get busy, so I had a bit of a run through the field first.

Thankfully it was a bit overcast as there wasn’t much shade! I enjoyed the run- I started fairly near the back as I wanted to run on Sunday too, and I have not run on consecutive days since May, as I have had a bit of a sore heel on and off.

When I finished (30.09) there was a pretty big queue at the barcode scanning although I didn’t wait for more than a minute. I ran back to the car and as I got there it started to rain.

I have decided to stop buying white running socks as they always get stained with mud. These are some Balega socks- I got them from Wiggle as I was buying some nuun tabs so thought I may as well.

I think the orange goes with my shoes too!

After a shower and breakfast we headed up to another fire shop to look at yet more wood burners- hopefully we will make a decision soon! We had to be quick as we had tickets to see The Red Turtle at the cinema in St Albans. It was a beautiful film, but despite it being animated it didn’t seem that child-friendly. Someone in the cinema was having an 8th birthday party and it didn’t seem to be their cup of tea as they were talking the whole way through….if only the parents would read the synopsis before booking tickets.

We followed that with a walk into town and back to the car (miles of walking via a new bakery to buy some delicious apple sourdough bread for dinner, and my breakfast for Sunday).

On Sunday I fancied another new route- I mapped one out that said it would be 7 miles.

I found this pretty pond on my way.

I also found a very big hill- the top of it was the other end of the Ayot Greenway (the old railway line I found the other week), so I got to run downhill in the cool woods to recover.

My route finished by heading through town, and the “Tour De Welwyn” was going on (lots of cycle races). The whole of the town centre was closed to traffic, and when I was there, there were kids races going on.

I watched a few whizz by before finally heading home after nearly 9 miles (slightly inaccurate mapping from me)!  I’m pleased I have found a new route though, and soon I am going to be the boss of that hill!

I’d put a nuun tab in some water in the fridge before I went out, so I sat with it in the garden, watching a bird peck about in the flower bed. A shower to make me feel more human again, and then what I was looking forward to- breakfast!

Not just any breakfast, no. This was a chocolate almond croissant (heaven), plus raspberries and blueberries with fresh mint. And of course a massive mug of tea (Teapigs chocolate flake tea)- treat yo-self indeed.

After speeding through my list of jobs, I walked into town, watched yet more cycling and then somehow managed to hurt my shoulder – I think by carrying a too-heavy bag on the walk home.

I was very excited to find these Pulsin bars in stock in the little health food shop- the peanut one sounds so good.

The good news was that my heel felt OK after running two days in a row, but the bad news was that my back was bad- I ended up doing about 30 mins of yoga in the evening to try and stretch it out a bit.

Do you like hill running? Although they are tough, I don’t mind them so long as I don’t finish on a hill. What have you seen at the cinema recently? Have you seen the new Beauty and the Beast?

Ware 10k- too hot for cake!

Yes, you read that correctly- too hot for cake!

This is one of my favourite races- the running club (Ware joggers- they run for fun) is such a friendly and welcoming group, the route is pretty and of course they are famous for their home-made cakes at the end.

I have always done the 10 mile event before, but as I already did the 10 miles in Richmond I had decided too do the 10k (also, most of my club mates end up doing the 10k so I thought I would be more sociable).

The weather said it would be overcast with a chance of rain later, but it was blazing blue skies.

The parking is right by the race start, and after a little queue to get my number (as I was out late with my mum I didn’t leave particularly early in the morning) I was ready to go.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, cloud and outdoor

It turned out one of our runners (Catherine, on the right) was doing the 10 miles, but the others (including Louise, my best running buddy) were all doing the 10k.

Our running leader, Donna, was also running the 10k, and we decided to run together. We all flipped our watches over so we were not even tempted to look at the time- this was not a day for a pb.

The ten mile race is two laps-each lap begins with a few hills around little villages, and then finishes alongside the river, nice and flat. I’ve not done the 10k before so I was interested to see how it went-basically at the start we ran along the river for a little bit before joining the 10 mile route- we did one lap, and then finished along by the river (so the little bit of extra by the river that we did twice would have made up the difference from 5 miles to 10k).

We ran steadily and (apart from a brief stop at the middle water station) managed a royal flush negative split- 11.06 down to 9.32, and 8.33 for the final bit. The first hilly part was more shady, but once we got to the river, although it was lovely and flat, it was also totally exposed (apart from a few bridges to run under)- I really regretted not packing a visor as my face just felt like it was burning. I was wearing sun cream but my eyes were struggling from the bright sunshine. It is a very enjoyable race though- lots of great marshals and lovely views along by the river.

The finish is a lap of the field which felt so slow (despite being our highest pace)- in the finish area were loads of marshals who clipped the timer chips off your shoes (they were attached with cable ties), and then I wandered over to the drinks station- there were bananas and apples, so I had an apple alongside water (I got my cup refilled about 4 times).  You always get a technical t-shirt too and this year the colour is my favourite so far- we have had florescent yellow, fluorescent green and purple (last year), but this blue is so summery.

They always have a lovely cake stall laden with home-made cakes, and you can get cake and a drink for £1- they raise money for the Herts Air Ambulance. But, I was just too hot. I briefly looked but I didn’t fancy any of it- what??? We found somewhere in the shade and sat down for a bit before it was time to head off.

The other reason why I love the top- it matches my trainers!

I did end up going to the garden centre again- I bought this beautiful hibiscus, plus a geranium, but of course as I didn’t have a proper list I could not find the other plants I had seen.

We headed over to see my parents (my mum was in high spirits, and Dad was back from Wimbledon for the middle Sunday), and then headed to Andy’s parents for dinner in their garden, followed by this cake- it was meant to be passionfruit cake, made with passionfruit curd, but I used a mixture of lemon and lime curd instead. The icing was amazing as it had a bit of melted white chocolate in there.  By that point in the day I was ready for cake!

What do you like to eat when you finish running or racing? I do like a banana, but the apple was so much better as it was juicier.

A few new running routes, a bit of tennis and more new plants

This week has been more tiring than usual. I had a lot to do when I got home on Monday and didn’t finish until 9.30pm. My mum was booked to have an operation and so I was up at 5am on Tuesday to collect her from her house and then drive her up to the hospital. The day was then of course a little stressful as we waited to find out how it had gone (all good so far). I was booked on a course so thankfully it meant I finished a bit earlier than usual. Once home I headed on a run straight away instead of waiting for the 6.30 club run.

I knew there was a park close to the town centre, and by following a dog walker I manged to find this path through it- the Ayot Greenway (possibly another old railway line)-I felt super tired though and so just before 3 miles I headed back. I am sure I can plan a loop (as I am not so keen on out and back routes) as the path does come out onto a road at the other end.

On Wednesday we did yoga outside again. Someone had brought along some large joss sticks and the smoke kept the mozzies away- no bites this week. It was so great to be outside again- it adds another element to the class and feels more relaxing and calming. We did some visualisation work and I find this is really helping me as when I am having trouble sleeping I can think of it.

Usually before yoga I get home and have to plough through work but I decided to chill out and watch some of the tennis instead- with a view of the garden from where I was sitting it started to feel very relaxing.

Our agapanthus have flowered and they add a lovely splash of colour to the patio.

On Thursday I had a meeting after work which didn’t finish until late, and it turned out my mum had been discharged from hospital (and my sister picked her up), so I went to see her on my way home. By the time I got home I decided I was too tired and would leave my run for Friday after work instead.

I’ve not managed to see much of the tennis, but on Friday after my run (I went on a hunt for another new route, and sort of found one, although I followed a path that didn’t come out where I thought it would) and some dinner, I sat down and watched a fair bit of the Murray match- we shared the salted caramel frozen yoghurt (with a nice bit of sauce in there too).

On Saturday I had offered to barcode scan at Panshanger, as we had our niece coming over at 10.15.

They get fairly busy now (300+) so they have taped off an area for the scanners to stand behind.

I have not done that job at parkrun for ages (maybe a couple of years) and I had a few moments where the barcode wouldn’t scan initially, but thanks to some tips from another scanner (a very competent 9 year old who volunteers regularly) it went by without a hitch. It was grey when we started but by the finish there were beautiful blue skies. I treated myself to a chai latte from the coffee van for the walk back to the car, as I didn’t have breakfast before I left (I didn’t want to get up earlier after such a busy week) and I wouldn’t have time when I got home.

After spending time with our niece, we drove up to the fireplace shop- we are hoping to get a wood burner, and we had someone out to knock a hole in the chimney earlier in the week.

We were close to a garden centre so we stopped there to have a look too- I’d been given some vouchers for my birthday but annoyingly I left them at home. I was doing a race on Sunday and that was only 10 minutes away from the garden centre so I decided I would pop in on my way back instead.

I saw lots of butterflies on the plants as we wandered around.

I love wandering around a garden centre anyway, and we found a few plants and made a mental list (which is a mistake, I should make an actual list because my brain is no good at remembering things when I am tired).

I’d been wanting to make this recipe from the Pip and Nut cookbook for ages- strawberries marinated in lemon juice and honey, on top of toasted sourdough and almond butter. In my pack from the WR10k I had a little squeezy pouch of almond butter, and we had some leftover sourdough, some strawberries and even a lemon! The perfect lunch! Incidentally, how annoying are those pouches? It feels like there is so much left in the packet that won’t come out- I’d much rather get a spoonful from a jar.

Mum messaged me after lunch to tell me Dad was on Centre Court, so I watched a bit of that in between baking a cake for Sunday and pottering in the garden.

Later on I found out that my brother had to take my mum into A&E, and as he has to get up very early for work I offered to pick her up- I ended up collecting her at about 10.30pm and while I was waiting no less than 6 police cars with their lights flashing screeched into the A&E bay. The nurse who treated my mum told her there had been 7 attacks on the staff just that evening. What is wrong with people????

It probably wasn’t the ideal race preparation (I was doing a 10k in the morning) but these things can’t be helped.

Are you good at finding new running routes? I do find myself looking to see if there are pavements as I drive, but then once you get off road I have no hope. What do you do to relax when you are busy?

Womble-spotting (tourism to Wimbledon parkrun)

Originally this Saturday was going to be a local parkrun- my dad will be working at Wimbledon for the next fortnight and usually has one of the international officials (Dorin) staying with them- they were either going to head to Panshanger, where they have run for the past couple of years, or cycle to Ellenbrook fields. However, I had a message from Dad this week saying that he needed to deliver a fridge to their flat (they rent a flat and were in it this past week for the qualifiers too) so would I fancy going with him to Wimbledon parkrun? Well, I am not going to turn down some tourism!

He picked me up at 7.30am and the journey took around an hour, so we got to the car park in the common with plenty of time to visit the toilets (thankfully open even though the cafe wasn’t), and have a little nose through the window at the cafe menu.

There were lots of high viz jackets out on the common opposite the car park, so we waited there for a bit and it wasn’t long before Dorin turned up (he had run from the flat- 1 or 2 km away)- he was wearing an apricot Panshanger top that Dad had given him. A little later three more of the officials came- Mircea (also in an apricot parkrun top) who also knew Dad well, and then Elzbieta and Juan who had been persuaded by Dorin and Mircea to try out parkrun for the first time. Dad had even printed off their barcodes but they had ended up stopping at a hotel on the way and they had kindly printed them off for them too.

Our “before” photo- Dorin, Mircea, me, Dad (he had his apricot top on underneath), Elzbieta, Juan.

There was no new runners briefing – just before 9am the RD stood on a bench and addressed the crowd- it was really silent- I was very impressed. They had a few milestones to cheer (some J10’s, 50’s and then a few people on 300 runs celebrating the impressive but unofficial milestone). They then had a little speech imploring people not to funnel-duck- it is obviously a big issue there (maybe it’s worse at the busier parkruns when the funnels are longer?) as they threatened “bad cop” next week. Finally a lady stood up to say she would be offering a free yoga session on the common afterwards- how lovely.

We then all walked 400m to the start, which faced the way we came- the international crew were at the front of the line (Dorin has run Panshanger in 19 minutes and the other two guys thought they would be at a similar pace), Elzbieta was aiming for 5 minute kms, so headed a bit further back, and I went further back still with Dad- he decided he wanted to run with me which is always good as we have a bit of a catch up (until I run out of breath and then he just talks to me!).

The route was such a lovely parkrun- I thought it would be out in the open but it was mainly through woods on wide flat paths. There were occasional tree roots to look out for (although a lot of them had been sprayed with white paint), and every now and then it narrowed so about 3 people could run side by side, but overall it was pretty perfect. The running conditions were lovely  as it was cloudy and not too hot, but the route was so shady it would be welcome on a hot summer day too.

It was a two lap course and at the half way point they had a guy stood there with a stopwatch calling out times- we were told 14 something which seemed good (I was just hoping for under 30 although I knew I should go a bit quicker as it was totally flat). We did speed up a bit during the second lap, and it seemed to go by really quickly- we thought we had about half a lap to go and I looked at my watch to see 2.55 miles already run.

The finish was where the run briefing was, and Dad decided he had a bit of a sprint finish in him- as he was heading off a guy ran from the sidelines and started yelling (cheering?) at a guy behind me, saying funny stuff like “come on, I’m younger than you/ you can see the finish line, hurry up…”- anyway I was overtaken by the guy storming through- he did a very impressive finish indeed.

The funnel was fairly long and we had to bunch up a bit as just behind us was a big group of people. It’s funny, I always feel like I am near the end as I suppose the crowd thins out towards the end, so I am always surprised when I see the number of people still to finish. My time came through on Sunday morning with 27.46 so I was very happy with that. Position 260/405

There was someone taking photos at the start so I didn’t really take any -I took this one at the end as I collected my bag from the bench- just to show the lovely wide tree-lined path. Sadly I didn’t see any wombles, but I think perhaps the trees were just too thick and they were hiding in there somewhere.

(Note my much redder face in the “after” photo!)

Then, we did something crazy…. we went to the cafe for breakfast! That was my 111th parkrun, my 22nd different UK course, and my first post-parkrun cafe visit! I did sometimes used to get a chai latte from the coffee van at Panshanger, but drinking on the walk back to the car isn’t the same.  Usually if we have travelled somewhere we have headed back as Mum would make us a lovely breakfast, and if I have been away I’ve got something to take back to where we are staying.

I had a toasted teacake while the others had omelettes, bacon sandwiches or full English breakfasts, and it was lovely just chatting away about the tennis, how they had been spending time in England, and of course how great parkrun is. I’m not taking parkrun for granted at all, but it’s lovely to see it from fresh eyes every now and then. They were all so amazed seeing little kids (one finishing very high up) as well as much older people running, and were really pleased to see the park being used for a community event. Juan was so keen and was even talking about buying an apricot shirt to be delivered to my dad, who would then pass it to him the next time they met at a tournament!

We must have been in the cafe for over an hour- we’ve both said we need to try and do it every now and then at other parkruns as it does add to the occasion. We had a fridge to sort out (well, Dorin came with us to help Dad get the fridge out of the car, into the flat and then take the old one back out) and then of course London traffic meant we didn’t get home until nearly 1pm!

So parkrun 111 achieved (I love the symmetry of that number) and my 22nd UK course (also a palindromic number).

Did you used to love the wombles? Do you usually go to a cafe after? (I do love the Panshanger coffee van of course, or breakfast at my parents house). Have you spotted any good running clubs lately? Here had the wimbledon windmillers and I imagined them running with their arms circling constantly, but sadly I spotted no-one doing that. Will you be watching Wimbledon?