The start of our holiday- Vancouver and Central parkrun (Burnaby)

So I’m home now from a wonderful holiday in the USA and Canada. I’m going to recap in several parts in the aim to keep each post a readable length!

Our trip started on a Thursday night with a train up to Manchester. This was on one of the hottest days, and of course the trains were delayed- we ended up waiting for a couple of hours at Milton Keynes, and even looking up Manchester airport parking options in case the train was cancelled. Thankfully it turned up in the end and we got to our hotel at about midnight.

After a little walk around Manchester first thing on Friday, we got the train to the airport and flew to New York (due to catch a flight to Vancouver later that day). Luckily we got to the airport nice and early because although we had checked in, when we got to drop off our bags we were told (very nicely) that we also needed the Canadian version of an ESTA (these didn’t exist the last time we went to Canada)- we applied over our phones (fiddly doing the long form on a small screen) and could show the email as proof so we were OK to fly. The flight was fine- we were upstairs on the plane in a sort of exit row, and I had an empty seat next to me so we felt like we could spread out. I watched a film (the one about Ted Bundy), and started watching the new Mary Poppins but the time went quickly and we soon landed. Then, because I had changed my name after getting married, I had to have a new USA ESTA, and so we had to join that queue (vs returning ESTA which was a far shorter queue), and I am not kidding you we were in that queue for well over 2 hours. Luckily our connection was a long one, and after finally getting our bags, re-dropping them  off and re-going through security (my most hated part of travel) we walked up and down by the gates to make sure we were tired for the second flight. I had a slight panic because before boarding they called out my name, saying they needed to see me at the  desk, but it turned out they were checking the Canadian ESTA (so lucky I could show them the email on my phone) and were checking every single person- I just happened to be one of the first names they called. As someone who gets easily panicked this didn’t really help any pre-flight worries!

For the NY-Vancouver flight, as soon as the flight had taken off I put on my headphones and eye mask, and loaded up some sleep stories from Calm, and although I woke up each time the story ended, I could just put on a new one and then drift off.  Immigration in Canada was far quicker, and after getting our bags and a taxi we were in our hotel at about 1am (which I think was 9am UK time)- as I was setting my alarm I heard that my dad was on his way to parkrun at home which was a weird thought!

When we booked our trip I had planned to go to Richmond Olympic parkrun, which is near to Vancouver airport and would have meant a 40 min Skytrain ride, but a few weeks before then I had seen (on the parkrun Canada facebook page) that a new one was launching (Central parkrun in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver) and this was only a 20 min Skytrain ride away result! Luckily they don’t mind people turning up to inaugurals in Canada, so I was OK to head there. Although I’d set my alarm, we both woke up before and Andy walked with me to the train station (he knows I have a terrible sense  of direction, and I had no data on my phone for Canada, and I had downloaded the Vancouver map but directions don’t work when the map is offline).

I was slightly apprehensive about finding the start, but I needn’t have worried because I could see the parkrun flag from the platform!

Me with my tired and slightly nervous face on the way, with my watch, train ticket and barcode- DFYB.

I chatted to a few tourists including one from Bristol who had been to a parkrun in Seattle the previous week, and the core team chatted too. They were worried that not many people would turn up, but they had 116 runners in the end.

The park was gorgeous and I was so glad that I chose to go there. (Despite it’s cool name, a few locals said that Richmond Olympic parkrun was like running up a gulley? and not particularly shaded- it’s out and back and possibly not so scenic). The park was filled with huge redwood trees, so it was lovely and shaded. There were black squirrels which I’d never seen before (despite looking out for them in Letchworth as there are some there). The route was two laps, and it went past ponds, clearings in the trees where loads of people were doing tai chi- with every turning there was a new view. Towards the end of each lap there was a slight incline, but nothing that you could call a hill. It was just beautiful.

(A few blurry photos from while I was running)

From their facebook page- I’m there in my apricot Ellenbrook Fields vest – too hot for t-shirts!

The two lap nature meant that you ran through the start/finish area which meant lots of lovely cheers from the teams. Lots of people were thanking marshals on the way around, which always makes me very happy.

After finishing and scanning my barcode, I chatted to a few other tourists for a little bit. I was trying to do a selfie with the sign in the background, and failing miserably (I still can’t get the hang of it, and always move the wrong way to where I need to move to get the right bit of background in) so someone offered to take my photo very kindly. I had sent Andy a text (no data in Canada for me) but it hadn’t sent so I didn’t want to hang about too much in case he worried, and of course we wanted a day in Vancouver so I got the train back. (My time was 28:31- this came through on email later in the day)

Yay- a new flag on Running Challenges!

After breakfast (in fact, second breakfast as I’d eaten a brioche roll when I’d first woken up as I already felt pretty hungry and hadn’t eaten anything since before the flight to NY, a good while ago by that point) we headed out for a wonderful day in Vancouver. It really is such a beautiful city. I think anywhere with water is vastly improved (lakes, rivers, oceans) and combined with the mountains in the background and the masses of green trees it is a perfect combination. We walked to Stanley Park and watched seaplanes taking off, watched for cormorants, seagulls and starfish on the beach, headed into the park for a bit to admire the collection of totem poles, and then walked back to the centre. I thought I would feel more tired, as the time difference is so huge, and we did sit down on a bench for a bit, but other than that we kept walking.

Once in the centre we had to stop by a David’s tea for an iced peach tea (so good), and then went to get an early dinner in a pasta place. I could not resist popping into a Bath and Bodyworks (I love their hand sanitisers) so I picked up a few bits for the holiday. We had seen this amazing bakery close to our hotel, so on our way back we stopped to get an evening snack- pretzel for Andy and a dark chocolate and cherry scone for me- so good.

We didn’t stay up too late as we had an early start- our train to Portland was leaving at 6.30am- I’ll save that for next time.

Are you a fan of flights?  Where is the furthest you have travelled to a parkrun?

Tell me about your favourite city…

Holiday prep and a heatwave!

As I didn’t run on the Sunday I needed to get a long run in on Monday (Great North Run training)- I had pencilled in 11 or 12 miles, and headed out with what I thought was an 11 mile route. I got so hot and thirsty and remembered that I hadn’t had my free Starbucks drink yet, so I stopped in town after 11.5 miles, got an iced chai and drank some, the half ran and half walked the mile home, carrying it with me. Once home I sat in the garden, did some stretches and enjoyed the rest of the drink. I needed that!

I didn’t fancy a big breakfast and ended up with a toasted hot cross bun and a peach, so later on when the runger struck I made some beans on toast- we had sourdough in the freezer and I added some marmite to the toast to make it extra savoury- so good!

I had a lot of work to be doing so got on with that, and then when Andy got home from work we went out to cut the hedges out the front- this took a good hour with all the clearing up. I was doubly glad of my big lunch then to tide me over to dinner.

On Tuesday I had a haircut booked, so walked into town, enjoying the glorious blue skies.

My hair had got rather wild so it was good to have it all smoothed and sorted. My haircut was at 10.30 so in my head I thought I’d have breakfast after, forgetting that it takes a good hour to get it cut- I was so hungry by the time I had finished. I had an almond croissant and a cup of tea (and yes I know it was super hot, but there was AC in Caffe Nero so it balances out). I had to get some cash for our holiday so popped into John Lewis for that, and got a few travel miniatures from Boots while I was at it.

Then it was operation stay cool. After the walk home (in the midday heat) I was sweltering and no-where seemed cool. I was so glad I wasn’t at work! I did some packing and generally had a lot of iced drinks.

In the evening I topped up the bird food and made an extra bird/ animal bath with an old plant pot (I added a brick as a ramp for things like hedgehogs as you never know). Then we went to see The Lion King 2 (or whatever it is called) with some Candy Kittens (a gift from a friend at work) as a snack.

The Lion King was good, but then the original is good. I did enjoy the little extras but I still don’t see the point of all of these remakes (well apart from cash-money for Disney).

I spotted these doughnut peaches for 10p and they were delicious!  On Wednesday I had a short run, shower and breakfast (including peaches) and then drove to St Albans and walked into town for a massage. It was very relaxing and thankfully I’d got there with enough time to sit in the waiting room and cool down (as it was nearly a 2 mile walk from where I parked). I had a few last minute holiday prep bits to get, and then sat in the cool of the A/C in Pret and had a tea and cookie. I asked for a bit of soya milk to go in my tea and I ended up being given frothy milk so it was a bit like a latte (a London Fog latte is so good).

I visited my mum who was looking after my niece, then popped to see my sister in law to deliver a few birthday cards, and then came home to do a few more holiday bits.

On Thursday (the hottest day I have ever known!) I went out on a 8.5 mile run, as my last longish run before holiday. I am taking my running things with me but I am not going to be spending hours doing long runs (plus it’s going to be warm where we are going). The Vitality drink comes through each Thursday so I got one on my way home, and after around 5 minutes all the ice had melted (on Monday I ran home with it and it was still full of bits of ice). Madness.

How did you cope in the heat? How good are you at getting ready for a holiday? I have plenty of lists but I always feel like I am forgetting something important!

Bowling and crawling to the end (of term) and bingo!

The end of term gets a bit like this! (From Twinkl)!

On Tuesday after work I did just over 3 miles and that was long enough! I had some work to do after so I didn’t want to be out for too long either. I was so warm so I went to sit in the garden with some cold coconut water when I got home- nothing is better at quenching the thirst.

Wednesday was our final yoga of the term. It was a bit drizzly but it stopped raining and we decided to start outside (yay for the Wideye bug spray) and in the end spent the whole session outside. We did some partner work to open up shoulders which always helps so much, and then a really varied session with lots of strength work (side planks outside are even harder!) and plenty of warrior poses (good for the legs).

On Thursday I couldn’t fit in a run after work, so decided to get up super early and run at 5.30am instead. I needed to collect a parcel from an Amazon locker so I went that way to collect it. I didn’t have time to properly dry my hair but it was so warm that it didn’t really matter.

After work we had booked bowling as an end of year team celebration- this apparently is my bowling face!

I may have lost overall, but as I was the only one who didn’t go for the barriers, I at least won the no barrier game!

Afterwards we went to Chiquitos. I’d not been for years but I was impressed with the veggie and vegan options. I had a burrito (I think) and then saved some space for churros after. I chose the churros with banana and toffee, but I didn’t read the menu properly and they came smothered in cream too (not a big cream fan here)- I had to pick through the cream to find the churros and sliced bananas. It was a good fun evening and even though I thought I’d be home early, I don’t think I was home until nearly 10pm!

On Friday we had a staff breakfast and then it was a case of frantically doing everything that needed doing (the classrooms all get cleaned so I won’t be in until the end, so needed to tidy everything away and print out/ pile up anything I’d need at home with me). I was given some lovely gifts from friends/ colleagues and parents at work, and also some cards with such lovely touching words about how their children have enjoyed their time at school this year.

Things like that make you take a step back and realise that all the stress and long working hours are worth it.

We had a John Lewis cake voucher that needed using up, so I met Andy in town and we shared some lemon and (maybe rose? maybe lavender? I can’t remember) cake and peppermint tea.

Then all I was good for was sitting in front of the TV for the rest of the evening!

On Saturday morning I went to Panshanger- I got there a little early and had  short warm up run through the field. At 8.45am the car park was nearly empty (bottom picture) and when I got back 10 minutes later it was more full. I was feeling tired so started near the back and ended up bumping into someone from the running club. We chatted for a bit before she sped off, and I just enjoyed the run. I was a bit annoyed because despite them having “Quiet during the run brief” signs, there were loads of people talking so I didn’t even hear them say “go”. As I came up to the final hill I looked at my watch but as I had no idea how long a run up that hill takes I don’t know to speed up or slow down. I think when I crossed the line my watch said something and 11 seconds, so I wasn’t holding out much hope for bingo (I needed a 17, and I didn’t think I’d left it that long after the start).

Imagine my excitement when the text came through to say my time and it was 31:17!! Whoop whoop! Bingo complete!

Third along- a new badge! Not too bad after 204 parkruns either.

Which running challenges are you aiming for? How many times do you need for bingo? Do you like going bowling? I wouldn’t have chosen it, but it was a fun evening and nice to be doing something and not just sitting (as we would for a meal).


Fulham Palace parkrun, meals out, tennis and naps

So, Fulham Palace parkrun. We’ve wanted to do this for years but things just haven’t fallen into place until now.  It was complicated but basically Dad stays in a flat in London while he works at Wimbledon, my brother had tickets for Court 1 on the Saturday, and Dad was going to meet us at a parkrun, to be determined by his start time which he’d find out late on Friday. When I got home from my meal out the plan was confirmed- I’d pick up my brother at 7am, drive to Fulham, meet Dad and then drive home on my own (eek). Not a fan of driving in London! I’d looked at the parking by searching on the parkrun tourist group (Festing Road, turn left at the end and park on the embankment as it was free), so getting there was fine and we parked on the other side of the river, with about a mile walk there (along the river, over Putney Bridge and then back along the river through the park). Dad got the bus and met us there- all good.

It was beautiful weather and thankfully the route was very shady.

The route had changed apparently, due to some work going on at the football ground. I loved the description that we would run past Fulham having their “football lessons” (turned out it was little kids and not of course the players being shown where the goals were etc). It was a special parkrun to visit together, as this was where my Dad grew up, and as a child he supported Fulham. Our first football match was at Craven Cottage with my Grandad and the rest of our family, as there were plans at that point for it to be knocked down and they wanted us to go before that happened. We could see the ground across the river from where we parked, and as we ran Dad pointed out things in the local area that he remembered (or that had changed). There were the most enthusiastic marshals as well.

When we finished we had a jog/walk back to the car, as Dad had to be ready to work at 10.45, and needed to head back to the flat to shower and change. Had I realised that, I would have parked closer but I was worried about the streets filling up as there wasn’t a car park and they get several hundred runners each week (and I misunderstood and thought I’d be driving home after breakfast in the cafe in the park). Anyway, it was OK although we got stuck in a bit of traffic in the high street and then couldn’t find a car parking spot in the street by the flat right away.

By the time we got into the flat Dad had decided to run to Wimbledon and shower there to save time (quicker than showering at the flat and then walking down there) so my brother and I had breakfast and then a little later I left to drive home- not so easy!

I loaded up maps on my phone and selected the route to go back along the M4 and then around the M25, but at one point it must have selected what it thought was a short cut, as I went off main roads and around residential streets. At one point it told me to turn right and suddenly I was driving through Richmond park-  I recognised roads from the 15k run I did there years ago! I did see a massive herd of deer, so I told myself that if I hadn’t gone wrong, I would have missed out on that. I was then driving and I kept seeing signs saying “no access to A something” and I guessed (correctly) that I needed that road, so I kept having to pull over to check the map and ignore the directions. I was so pleased to finally make it to the M4 (never thought I’d say that). I also saw the Red Arrows fly over as I was driving around the M25 so again a bonus. The journey home took me a good 2 hours though- I was very ready for a shower by then!

In the afternoon I made some fudge as end of year gifts for the people I work with (peanut butter of course), caught up on work and watched a fair bit of tennis. I always used to watch a bit of Wimbledon when getting home from work, but things are so busy that I just haven’t had the time for that this year- I made up for it at the weekend!

On Sunday morning we were going to Andy’s parents for brunch, and originally I’d pencilled in 11 miles, but I was so tired and I really didn’t want to get up ridiculously early. I think I got up at about 7.30, and thought I’d aim to be home by 9.30 and just see how many miles I could fit in. In the end I ran 9 miles, so a fairly solid long run still. I wore my new socks- I love these Balega socks and as I was ordering something from Wiggle, if I got one other thing it would be free postage, so it seemed the sensible option. They are so bright!

When I first went out it was raining fairly hard, but soon the sun came out and it got very hot.

After a delicious brunch (Andy’s mum had asked me for the baked French toast recipe, but had also loaded the table with goodies) and a walk in the park, I got home just as the Men’s Final was starting. As Andy was going to watch the F1 and had bagsied the TV downstairs, I put on i-player in the bedroom, and had a cup of tea and a biscuit. I think I saw the first set, and then woke up 2 hours later! I never nap unless I’m ill or jet-lagged, so I must have been tired!

The match went on for so long that I saw most of it even though I’d slept for so long! I was also very excited to see Escape to the Chateau back on TV- perfect Sunday night viewing.

On Monday I was meeting a friend for dinner- back at Bill’s again. We met early in the evening so in the end I made up a sort of afternoon tea of hummus with toasted foccacia bread, scones and tea. It was lovely to catch up (and thankfully we had different members of staff so they didn’t think I was taking up residence!)

Do you like driving in London? Or anywhere new? Which parkrun is next  on your tourist list?


Toy Story 4, yoga outside, lavender and recovery

The day after the Ware 10 mile race we had booked tickets to see Toy Story 4 in the evening (and I cannot help singing the song from Muppets Most Wanted – as they sing “while they wait for Tom Hanks to make Toy Story 4“)- I took the lavender shortbread with me as a cinema snack and it was so tasty- I think it’s my favourite lavender items (although the marmalade is also good)- sometimes it’s overpowering and almost soapy, and other times it’s too delicate- I think the shortbread is the perfect balance between the two.

On Tuesday I got home fairly late after a super busy day but needed to clear my head and stretch out my legs so had a 3 mile run. I did a bit more lavender flower arranging after finding some more jars.

On Wednesday I had a walk in the morning as I knew I’d be sat at a computer for a lot of the day and would appreciate getting in some steps.

I do enjoy these early morning walks, even if they are just 20 minutes they give me a bit of a fresh air boost.

That evening when I got to yoga, all the mats were set up outside. I was glad I’d put on my bug spray (it’s natural stuff from Wideye in Brighton and I love it), but Josie put on a lot of candles and incense sticks to ward them off too. It was just wonderful being outside the entire time, with the wind rustling the leaves and seeing the birds fly overhead. My legs were a bit tired after the race on Sunday, and so some of the hamstring stretches were more sore than usual, but overall I left feeling loads better.

On Thursday we went out for lunch and I went for the fruit toast- so tasty. By the time I got home I was so tired and needed to walk around to the shops to get some fudge ingredients, so I decided against a run- I think running when I felt that tired would have been counter productive.

On Friday after work I was meeting some friends for dinner in town, and there wasn’t really time to go home, so I had a wander around the park for a bit, but then felt like I needed a sit down and a cup of tea, so I went into Pret. The barista said something to me about paying, and asked me if I wanted anything else (I’d got a little pack of those delicious almond bites) and then when I put my card on the machine he told me it was free. I think my tired teacher face meant he felt like I was sorely in need of a caffeine and sugar boost!

Then it was time for dinner in Bill’s- I went for scones for dessert (I think I can tell that I am reaching the end of term exhaustion as I just opt for sweet things all the time to help me through!).

Do you prefer a starter or a dessert? I always feel like a starter is the same as a main meal (taste wise) so I’d rather have a dessert, but then often the restaurant desserts are not as good (frozen things) as the starters.