A leap day parkrun!

Unless you live under some sort of social media protective bubble, you can’t have avoided the fact that there won’t be another parkrun on a leap day for many years, so of course all the parkruns were doing various themed events. Ellenbrook were running their course in reverse, and I missed this last time they did it because I was marshalling. I had already volunteered to tail walk at Jersey Farm, so I shall have to wait for another special occasion for EF (FE?).

I had originally thought I would borrow something from work for fancy dress, but totally forgot until I was driving home on Friday- too late. I remembered my Kermit hat though- perfect for the frog leap theme, and also pretty good for the weather!

The weather was pretty bad- pouring with rain and more wind thanks to the next named storm. I checked it was on, as I saw a few cancellations (nothing too close) but all was good. I drove to Dad’s and then we walked around together, leaving it until the last moment. The start/finish area is the highest part of the route, in a big open grassy field, and it was properly boggy and squelchy. Dry socks was not an option!

Bottom right you can see someone trying to avoid the water, but it was really pointless because even the grass at the side was boggy!

I was going to be tail walking with a D of E volunteer (I don’t think they can do roles like this on their own) so we chatted a bit, and then a lady came and introduced herself, explaining she would be walking as she was recovering from a foot injury and could not go any faster. It’s funny with tail walking- you never know if you will be walking or jogging, but of course you are prepared for both. I was thankful of my trail shoes, but the puddles were so huge. In fact, they weren’t puddles, basically most of the paths were like little streams so it was really tail-wading around the course! The first part was tricky as it is narrow in places anyway, and once the faster runners started heading through we had to walk in single file and often step over out of their way (to try and minimise the splashing from them too). Dad cheered us on his way past, and we saw a few fab costumes (a child and her mum in frog outfits and hats, a cow onesie, and a bird costume complete with feathery wings).

It’s two laps and as we were coming up to finish our first lap, Dad had finished and gave us a cheer- he was going to head home and I’d meet him there once I was finished- no point in him standing around getting cold and wet.

The rain had stopped during the first lap, but my feet were just soaking. At one point I had stepped to one side and a runner went through the middle of a puddle and went up to her knee on one leg!

I finished with token 120, which seemed very low for a tail walker but no surprise that the conditions had kept a lot of people at home. My time was 61:31 (and I am sure that has changed, in that the last time I was tail walking and finished in over an hour my time was written as 1:01:something?).

I ended up chatting at the end for a bit, and so when I finally started the run home I was very cold. I’d brought a change of clothes but had a quick shower in the end because my feet and legs were so muddy. Then it was time for pancakes and tea- the hot tea was especially needed!

Fancy the mud-fest to get your J for the alphabet? Did your parkrun have a leap day theme?

Pancakes, puddings and an attempt at snow

After the Brighton half I had a fairly quiet week. My legs felt OK on the Sunday but were very stiff on the Monday so I did a lot of foam rolling, mainly in front of the TV but also looking at the beautiful sunrise.

On Tuesday it was my niece’s birthday so we met up with Andy’s family after work, then I had to go and get some petrol and a bit of shopping, and once home I made us some pancakes.

I can only make the little ones, my Mum makes proper crepe ones but I just can’t do them, not sure why. They were quite pale, but tasty (with  some fruit, yoghurt, peanut butter and maple syrup, because it’s all about the toppings!).

Daffodils on my walk, oils in my diffuser to help me sleep, sunset view and icy windscreen

On Wednesday I had a short run to stretch out my legs- I felt better but also I still felt very tired. I’d gone out on a walk at lunch time too. Andy requested pancakes again, and this time I remembered to include the banana that I had forgotten about on Tuesday. I have this lovely buckwheat pancake mix where you just add a little milk and oil (eggs are optional but I didn’t use one), so I mashed the banana and added it in- they turned out really well.

On Thursday I did another 3 miles and it was so much colder than I expected. Yes, it had attempted to snow in the morning, and had settled a bit on the grass, but it was gone by lunch time and I thought  it had warmed up more than it had.

We have been re-watching Friends at the moment and it was the episode where Rachel and Phoebe go running. (I also got these salt and vinegar chickpeas in Asda- not as nice as salt and vinegar peanuts but pretty good. The best salt and vinegar snack was the Sainsbury’s popcorn but they stopped doing that so I’ve been on the hunt ever since.)

On Friday I had booked a massage at my regular place- my shoulders had been very tight after the half marathon (no surprise battling the wind). I popped into Gail’s after and they had chocolate almond croissants so I picked up a couple of our Sunday breakfast, and also went to The Pudding Stop.

Cornflake tart and rhubarb doughnut- both very tasty (we had half each).

Did you have pancakes last week? Favourite toppings? 

Brighton half marathon 2020- wild and windy!

On Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of the wind howling! This was not going to be the glorious sunshine of 2019!

I had a hot cross bun for breakfast and then got dressed- I still couldn’t quite decide what to wear because I hate being too hot, but also the wind was very cold and I knew I wouldn’t be running as fast as normal so didn’t want to get wet and cold. In the end I wore a t-shirt and a long sleeved thin top, with my jacket on to walk down to the start (Andy walked with me so I could give him my jacket- no need to use the bag drop). I think we got to the seafront about 15 mins before the start, so no need to hang about for long and get cold. In my jacket I found a pair of gloves so decided to wear them too. My headband which was mainly to keep the wind out of my ears, kept sliding down my face because of the wind!

After Andy left I headed into the start pen- I was in the purple pen for 2-2.15, and I was pretty sure I’d be towards the end of that, due to the crazy winds.

I was wondering what I was doing, and regretted not bringing longer tights (these blue ones are my usual race ones, but my skin was getting cold on my legs!).

Anyway, it wasn’t too long before we were off. The route had changed a teeny bit from last year, but basically up along the coast (East) for 2.5 miles- the wind was behind me and I looked at my watch out of curiosity and saw 8.50- no way should I be running that fast (I think 2 hours is 9.09 pace and seeing as I have only managed that on a short course, my pace should be slower especially at the start!). That was the only time I looked at my watch though- I didn’t think there was any point in trying to stick to a certain pace because of the wind, and as I wasn’t aiming for a particular  time I was going on feel.

As we turned at the top and began running into the wind, it just felt like madness. The spray from the sea (or possibly a bit of rain, not sure) was stinging my face and legs, and at points it felt like you just weren’t moving forwards. At least this was downhill! I didn’t notice any of the mile markers, but heard people around me commenting on the  miles so far. At around 4.5 miles we were back by the start and heading in to the town, next to the Pavillion. When I have run it before, it’s a short loop, but this time it went further inland, around a small park (The Level?) before heading back to the coast. Here I started noticing the mile markers- we passed the 7 mile mark just after joining the coast road and this time heading towards Hove.

I knew this would be the hardest part  – mainly flat and into the wind- towards where I did parkrun on the Saturday, and beyond. There were a few detours around small squares, which provided a tiny respite from the wind, but it was a time to just dig in. A few times the wind pushed one leg into the other (especially if you were sheltered by a building and then ran past a road).

I kept thinking we would turn- the whole way along you could see people heading back the other way, but the road just kept on going! Kudos to all the people who were out supporting- I love running in Brighton and the crowds were still out with jelly babies and signs and instruments. Not a good day to be stood around!

Finally we did turn, with 3 miles to go (just a parkrun to go- phew) and the wind behind! The waves were crashing up onto the beach, and at first the path was right by the beach with no barriers, so the sea spray was again stinging my face and also making me feel very invigorated. At this point I ended up with the Moana song in my head (because of the wind being behind me….) and I am pretty sure that powered me through those final 3 miles. My hood kept flapping and my ponytail kept smacking me in the face (makes for an excellent race photo- there were only 2 of me in pretty much the same place)

I took a couple of photos of the sea whilst running at  that point, but of course the waves don’t look very big at all. Anyway, the final 3 miles went well, with the end in sight. I felt like I was about to get a stitch in the final half a mile, but I tried to focus on my breathing and felt OK. I remembered last year I felt dizzy near the end and had to slow down and stop for a bit (it was a very warm day) and compared to that I felt miles better.

The final part was tough- due to the wind (completely understandably) they had not put up the finish gantry, so I had no idea where the finish was- it’s so hard to know when to give that final push!

When I finally crossed the line, I was very surprised  to see just under 2:05- I was thinking I would be closer to 2:15! Andy was back at the hotel so I shared my location with him, so he could track me heading back. I then had a minor panic because check out time was 12, and now it was approaching 11.45! I was given a can of water (yay for recycling),  a banana and a cereal bar, my medal and a foil blanket, and tried to fight my way out of the finish funnel. I saw some people with goodie bags but I am not sure where they got them from (Runners Need ones)- we did get a voucher with our number.  I do think they could organise this bit a little better, as for ages I was battling people wandering the other way trying to meet up with people. It’s narrow down there and not really the best- I had to run further up along the road to find a crossing point too- I had to run 1.1 miles and got back to our room at 12 on the dot. I had got everything ready and so I jumped in the shower for a two minute rinse before changing into warm dry clothes (housekeeping knocked on the door while I was in there but he explained we would only be a few minutes). Andy had made me a tea so I sat in the lobby and had that (plus some of the cinnamon roll her got for me) while he checked out.

Lots of people were coming to the front desk saying that their keys weren’t working, and they were being let in, so I needn’t have panicked, but you never know!

Lunch was Leon (I LOVE their love burgers and we shared fries and hummus) and then I got a chai latte for the train.  Once back in St Albans we walked up from the station to The Pudding Stop, as I was in search of an amazing sounding peanut butter and jam skillet cookie thing, but they didn’t have any, so we shared a cookie dough and coconut ice cream- pretty good.

We then walked back to the car and drove home, where I could finally have a proper shower and  lounge around for the rest of the evening.

When I looked back on Strava, despite it being one of the slower Brighton half’s for me in recent years, I got loads of Strava segments due to the wind assisting me. My final 5k was 26:48- I’d love that as a parkrun time (I think I’ve only run a couple with 26 at the start) so to manage that after already running 10 miles isn’t bad!

The medal was lovely too- because it was their 30th year it was shaped like 30, almost like two medals joined together. My chip time was 2:04:36

What’s the worst weather you have raced or run in? I remembering being out once when it started hailing, and another time it rained so hard that my eyeballs filled up with water and I couldn’t see- I just had to stand on the pavement and wait for the rain to ease off a bit!

A busy weekend in Brighton- parkrun, comedy and a band

We got the train down to Brighton on the Friday afternoon, so after dropping our bags off at the hotel we had time for a quick wander (pop to Bird & Blend for a latte obvs) and picked up some sandwiches from Pret for dinner- the falafel special at the moment is so good with crunchy veggies and loads of pickles.

Very pleased to get some Love Potion and Red Velvet as they had sold out online.

We had seen that Stewart Lee (comedian) was at the Dome, so we had booked tickets and wanted to get there with plenty of time. I like going to see comedians but I do not want to sit anywhere near the front, and I do not want to be late!

The show was split into two parts, with no support act, instead he did one show (Tornado), there was an intermission and then a second show (Snowflake). It was very funny, very off beat.

On Saturday morning I headed down to Hove Prom parkrun (after checking it was on- the previous week they had posted photos of the pebbles from the beach covering the entire prom). I perhaps should have chosen Preston Park  instead, but the prom was marginally closer to where we were staying, plus I could not decide what to wear for the half on Sunday, so I thought it would be a good test. Well, a test.

I got chatting to another tourist (well she was a local, but had the cow buff on)- she was going to be at one of the water stations in the half-  not an enviable job. The course on Hove Prom is two out and back laps, but you start in the middle, so we had half the length into the wind which was just so hard to run in, then the whole length with the wind behind (marvellous, but also sort of annoying as my ponytail kept swinging around and smacking my in the face!), then a whole length into the wind, which is when I questioned the sanity of running a half marathon, a lovely whole length with the wind behind, and then the final half into the wind. Ooof it was tough. For ages I could see the 30 minute pacer way ahead of me, and finally caught him up and went past him before the final turnaround point.

The pacer did a fantastic job, as it cannot have been easy to keep to your planned pace- my official time was 29:59 and he was just behind me.

I ran back (thankfully with the wind behind me) and met Andy in Cafe Coho, for tea and pancakes, before getting showered and changed.

That bendy sign said “no swimming”, just in case anyone was tempted!

We walked along the seafront for a bit, but the sea spray was in the air and it wasn’t the most enjoyable walk, so we cut it short and wandered around the lanes for a bit instead.

Of course we stopped for tea and cake, and then later on a B&B visit- this time for a red velvet latte which is one of their specials, and is pink!

We got a takeaway pizza from Fatto A Mano (their vegan one with veggies and pesto is sooooo tasty) and then headed back out to the Dome, this time to see the Hot 8 Brass Band. Andy likes them (I had only listened to a couple of tracks on Spotify)- they basically cover pop songs, (eg Get Up/ Love will tear us apart)- they were fantastic live. I love seeing instruments being played- orchestras, bands, anything, so seeing them was great but they were so lively and engaging with the crowd. Mardi Gras but a few days early!

Then it was time to head back, get my kit out and look at the weather forecast! I shall save the half marathon recap for another post…

Do you like seeing comedians or bands? Best pre-run dinner?

Half term highlights

It’s been a fairly low key week which was just what I needed. After our trip to Southampton, I was up on Sunday morning for my final long run before the Brighton half.

It was windy so I borrowed a tip from Hungry Runner Girl, and put a headband over my visor- this worked a treat and meant the visor didn’t blow off, and my ears stayed warm! I saw a bit of damage around from the storm, but not as bad as Ciara from last week.

I ran 10 miles, and although it rained at the start for a bit, for the most part it was dry. Once I was home it hammered down though- good timing! I did some stretching and foam rolling in the living room, and was very excited to see some goldfinches visit the bird feeder- I’ve not seen them since last year so this made me very happy. Also how beautiful is this red velvet tea? It’s black tea with a hint of red velvet cake taste, and because it contains beetroot, when you add milk it turns pink! So pretty!

Then we headed to the cinema to see Parasite (cup of tea and cookie as cinema snack- wearing a big hat is a good idea because you can put the cup in the hat as you go in). I really enjoyed it, but the last part was so tense, I was so on edge and just had no idea what was going to happen next.

Once home, what better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than by baking? I made these bourbon-cream style hearts (from Nancy Birtwhistle)- they are very tasty too.

On Monday I had a doctor’s appointment first thing which I never look forward to, so after that was done I had some breakfast (needed something to look forward to) and wandered around the park.

It was such a beautiful day.

I had been given some vouchers for a local spa, and so had booked a massage there. It was very luxurious and zen.

You could go for a spa day, so loads of people were wandering around or sitting in the lounge with dressing gowns on (which I know is meant to seem relaxing, but that to me is not my idea of fun), and when it was time for my treatment I was taken upstairs to a room with a sofa, bed, sink, fancy mood lighting etc. I was given the choice of playlists (ocean sounds/ nature/ piano etc) and the therapist talked about my booking. Now when I phoned up, I had asked for neck, back, shoulder massage, and the person on the phone had named something that included these things. When I sat down, the therapist started talking to me about the facial part of the treatment- I wasn’t expecting that. She did offer to swap it for a full body massage, but I thought it would be hassle to go back downstairs and sort it out (they all have different prices, and my voucher didn’t cover the whole cost so I had to top it up)- anyway, I should have done that really. The actual massage was lovely, and then I had a scalp massage (which is why my hair looks a bit wet, because she added some oil too) but I have to say the facial was not for me.  Even though the products were meant to be OK for sensitive skin, some of them stung a bit, and my skin just felt all hot afterwards. But the rest of me was all relaxed. I just don’t like making decisions in the moment like that.

I did see a red kite flying so low across the road (when I was walking) that I could take a fairly clear photo with my phone- you can even see the forked tail!

Tuesday morning I had a lovely 7 mile run (so much colder than I expected- I wore a long sleeved top and expected to need to roll the sleeves up as I warmed up, but no, the wind was biting), and then decided to make some French toast with a Christmas panettone.

I finally got around to make some of the eco cleaner that I had seen on Nancy Birtwhistle’s Instagram (water, vinegar, surgical spirit and lemon oil) and got on with using it to clean the windows, bathroom etc. In the afternoon my sister in law came over with my niece and nephew- we went to the park for a bit and then came home just as it rained to have tea.

While in town I had visited The Pudding Stop, getting a vegan crumble cake for us to share, so we had that in front of the fire in the evening.

Wednesday I had a 6 mile run in another Disney top (long sleeved still going strong)- saw lots of flooding still. Also how good does that Pudding Stop special sound??? I didn’t see that on Monday! I spent a few hours at my mum’s, and then once home decided it was time for a hot cross bun, and some hot cross bun tea (which is sooooo good- a blend of black and rooibos tea with spices and fruity and smoky flavours).

I watched What The Health, which is the follow up from Cowspiracy (which I am not sure if I have seen)- it popped up as something I might like following on from Game Changers I imagine. It was interesting, but of course really linked to how things work in the USA- for example with the Diabetes Association sponsored by so many companies that make unhealthy foods, plus pharmaceutical companies who really have a vested interest in people being put on medication because it’s all profits for them. It was thought provoking and really terrifying because with the way things are going politically, this may be where our health care is headed too.

Thursday I was still in a Run Disney mood (and it was still cold enough to wear a long sleeved top)- 4 miles. When I got home I used a Lush hot oil hair treatment- I’d bought one in Southampton at the weekend. It looks like a lump of crayon on a stick, but you put it in hot water (I used half, as that was what the person in the shop recommended) and stir it around until it melts, leave it to cool for a bit before putting it onto dry hair. I had tea and porridge while I waited for it to work (20 mins) and then rinsed it off in the shower. It has left my hair really soft, and I would definitely use again.

I had a bit of work to do, so got on with that, had a brief break where I walked into town, got soaked, and then carried on with work. Andy was at home and we managed to get a few jobs done too, including putting up our newest pictures (the two in the bottom row in the picture above). We bought them on holiday in August and have had the frames for ages but only remember that we need to put them up when it’s too late to be hammering nails into walls in case it annoys the neighbours.

Then we headed to the cinema again, this time to see Just Mercy. It was a fantastic film- based on a true story and reminded me a lot of a John Grisham book. The subject (inmates on Death Row) was tough of course, and it just boggles my mind that in this day so called civilised societies still think the death penalty is acceptable.

On Friday morning I made some banana bread- what else are brown bananas for? I had a walk and did some work at home, and then packed as we were heading down to Brighton for the weekend for a jam-packed weekend.

Do you like running in long sleeved tops? I have a few (mainly from Disney) but the time for wearing them seems very short, because when it’s cold I’ll wear a t-shirt and jacket, and when it’s mild I’ll wear a t-shirt as I know I’ll warm up quickly.  Have you seen any good films lately?