Marshalling in the heat = easier than running

On Saturday morning (two weeks ago- I keep thinking I’m catching up but I’m clearly not) I was marshalling at Ellenbrook Fields, so after I’d parked I had a little run around the business park. I changed out of my vest into my volunteer top and then headed to my marshal spot.

It was such a hot day. I’d brought my water bottle with me, but hadn’t filled it up all the way which was a mistake. I ended up marshalling in one of the big fields, with no shade around me at all. Luckily I had my visor on, but it was totally baking.

I was at about the half way point so I had plenty of time before even the front runners came through, so to pass the time I mucked about with the timer on my camera.

I quite liked it when the strands of grass looked gigantic (as I’d propped my phone up in the grass).

I saw so many beautiful wildflowers, and there was a constant buzz of bees and so many butterflies flitting past. The little black bugs (thunder bugs?) loved the high viz- I really should have taken it off and just waved it about instead.

Dad was running so I got to cheer him on, and then walked back to the start once the tail walker had gone through. At the finish area I chatted to a few people from our club for ages- since I don’t go to the evening run any more (they moved from Tuesday to Wednesday evenings so it’s yoga night) I feel like I hardly see anyone apart from at parkrun.

I went around to have breakfast at Mum and Dad’s and then quickly headed home as we were off to the Baseball in the afternoon.

We got the overground train in, and that was very unpleasant as it was so hot and even though the windows were open no air seemed to be coming in. I was so sweaty (this is my “I am so hot and sweaty” face). We had a bit of time before meeting Andy’s brother and his wife, so we went into Westfield to get a picnic dinner and ended up getting some frozen yoghurt to cool down a bit more.

The baseball was really fun. We’ve been to a few games when we’ve been abroad (Toronto Blue Jays, Charleston Riverdogs, somewhere in LA which was the most terrifying thing as we had to get the bus there and that was probably the scariest bus journey I’ve ever been on) and so you know it’s a long game with lots of other thins going on. As it was linked to the Invictus Games, Harry and Megan were there along with someone from the games to do the first pitch. Of course there were flames too- lots of things to hype up the crowd!

We had a great view across the stadium- it was so interesting to see how it had been changed since being an athletics stadium (although the less said the better about it being now a football stadium on the tax payers expense)- they had to put in a load of earth for the mound, and from where we were we could see the warm up areas. I won’t go into details with the scores, but the first innings had 12 runs (6 each)- we have been to games where the final scores isn’t that high. They had loads of funny graphics (First home run in London!!),  and loads of facts about the players. There were things like mascot races (Freddie Mercury racing Nessie…), a “beat the freeze” race  (a guy had to beat a mystery runner dressed in one of those all in one stretchy suit things) and crowd competitions in between the innings. My favourite was videos of the players being asked to name British people- one of them said “all the Harry Potters”… The 7th Inning Stretch where they all sing that song is always my favourite part (not sure why, I find it really funny).

Although we had a good view, it also meant we were right in the sun for most of it so I was really dripping in sweat- not so nice!

They had a water refill station so at one point we popped down to refill our bottles- the queue was 30 mins long! It was good fun, although to catch our train we missed the final innings (but didn’t miss anything major)- it was the second longest baseball game ever I think.

On Sunday morning I did 10 miles but issues with Strava meant that it just wouldn’t come up- I tried adding walks and things to bump it along, and they would pop up but my run wouldn’t. Eventually I went on my laptop and manually added it that way- if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen! (And I just like to keep track of the miles, and as my memory is so terrible it means I can find out what I did last week…).

Breakfast was a croissant and tea, and then I did a bit of pottering in the garden- standard Sunday!

In the afternoon we went to see Apollo 11, which is a film made up of remastered footage and all the original recordings of the moon landings. It was absolutely amazing. To get more into the moon landing, we listened to some of the Public Service Broadcasting album once home.

On Monday I had a package as I’d ordered some end of term gifts from Wideye (I’d bought some things from their Brighton store recently and really liked them), plus I thought I’d give their natural deodorant a go. They came beautifully boxed up, and all the packaging was compostable so that’s always good.

On Tuesday I was home fairly late but needed a run to clear my head- it was a super busy week at work. I did 3.5 miles and attempted to stay in the shade the whole time but didn’t quite manage it.

We’d got these vegan Magnums so I tried one- it was so delicious and really creamy.

On Wednesday yoga was mostly outside- we’ve done hardly any outdoors this year as it just hasn’t been as warm, but it was perfect this week as it was fairly cool.

On Thursday I did another hot run of 4 miles- I did consider getting up early and doing my run first thing instead, but that would mean really getting up close to 5am to give me enough time to wash and dry my hair etc.

On Friday I had another delivery, this time of some t-shirts- annoyingly as they were from the US I had to collect them as I needed to pay the VAT- if only that could be added at checkout it would be so much easier.

I did some baking on Friday evening- peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. It’s a Hummingbird recipe and it was only when I was putting them on the baking trays that I remembered that I usually halve the recipe as it makes so many. I had to cook them in batches!

Have you ever been to a Baseball game? Did you see Apollo 11?

Tail walking as strength training, and back running

On Friday after work I was meeting a friend at The Waffle House. The residential school trip was due back, and the coach blocks the exit to the car park while they all unload, so I left work as soon as I could and had a lovely walk through the park to the cathedral and back again.  I saw so many ducklings and goslings.

The time also allowed me to decide on my waffle of choice (my friend always knows what she is having, and in other places I usually do, but I find it so hard to choose here…)- this time it was a banana flapjack waffle, which is a waffle with banana, toffee sauce and flapjack crumbles.

This was on a teaching resource website (twinkl) and and that point we had 4 (my friend 4 and a half) weeks to go with what feels like a million things to do (moderation, assessment, data analysis, transition prep and meetings, sports day, school trip)- we both needed the sugar to keep us going! My friend is moving away (sad face) so I shall miss our regular catch ups- this was a fab way to spend a Friday evening.

For Saturday morning I had volunteered at Westmill, which is a lovely but small parkrun close to Ware, in an activity centre. I think I’ve run it 3 times before, and been a marshal once. I didn’t think my dad would be around as he was up in Birmingham doing a tennis tournament, but he came back on Friday night and said he’d come over and run it. I then offered to make breakfast- any excuse for baked French toast! So my mum and dad met me there with Mum watching and chatting to everyone at the finish area, while Dad ran it.

The poppies at Westmill looked stunning

When I got to Westmill we were directed to park in a different car park, and the start was in a slightly different place to when I’ve been before. It is still just under 2 laps, but the start/finish were closer to the car park. As tail walker I was asked to pick up an IKEA bag as I went through the finish area after my first lap, and pick up all the cones. So on my first lap I looked out for the cones, and also chatted to a few of the runners/walkers at the bac (including one lady who had missed the start and it turned out was her first ever parkrun- I didn’t get her name so I wasn’t sure if she finished as she was tempted to just do the one lap).

Now, I’ve been tail walker at Ellenbrook Fields and St Albans, (where you don’t collect anything as the only signs are ones held by marshals), and Panshanger, where you have to get a few of  the laminated arrows and make sure that you shut the gates. Westmill was on another level! Dad had run past me on his way to the finish, so as I got the bag he came over and said he’d  come with me on my second lap.  I am not sure how I would have managed on my own. There were so many cones (the little ones we have at school for PE, but also large orange cones, arrow signs, big solid plastic flags sunk into the ground…)- in the end Dad carried the bag and I carried the things that would not fit in the bag. Every now and then we had to run to make sure the back runner was in sight (because the tail walker should be there in case of any issues too)- it was hard work! I am not sure I would have managed to carry all the equipment on my own- I think it was a 2 person job for sure!

As I finished I put the bag down and went through the finish funnel- the timer beeped and the guy with the tokens said to me “you would have been number 88”, so I said to him “well, I am number 88”, and after what felt like a very long pause, he gave me the token. The first time I was tail walker I didn’t take a token so it still annoys me that I’ve done one more run than shows up on the results, and of course the point that no-one finishes last because there is a tail walker at the back is also an important one. parkrun 201 done. I was very happy as I hadn’t run since falling over (not even the daily mile at school) and when I did have to run to catch up, my knee felt fine.

Mum and Dad came back for breakfast, and my brother also came over (he hadn’t run as he was playing football in the afternoon).

I did a bit of baking later on- this was a raspberry bakewell cake from the Lucy Bee website.

On Sunday morning I was up early for a long run. I was starting to worry that I hadn’t run a long run for a while and the 10 mile was creeping up on me. I would not be racing the 10 miles, but I don’t want to find it a huge struggle. The bruise on my right shin was turning more yellow, but the swelling was all gone and they felt much better. It was pretty hot so I opted for shorts- the scabs did make me feel more self conscious than usual about my legs/ knees, but it was fairly quiet where I was running.

I did 8 miles of loops near my house, meaning that I could head back home if I felt like I needed to. They were super slow (around 12 min miles) but I didn’t want to push it and because my knee still felt sore if I touched it, I didn’t want to make it stiffen up.  Also I hadn’t run for 11 days so my muscles were going to be sore too. There were a few bits of brioche left over so I made some French toast when I got home. I also got a Strava badge- Race to the Moon (running 50 miles in 50 days to celebrate 50 years since the moon landing).

Then we were off to London as for my birthday I’d been given tickets to see the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast do a live recording. We had a wander around London (got an iced chai in Bird&Blend by Borough Market) and walked along the river.

The show was really good (I think some of their topics sound a bit heavy going but they are done in such an interesting and accessible way)- all about whether we should have a constitution in Britain. Ed Miliband had parkrun as his reason to be cheerful for the week (since they did an episode about parkrun he’s been a fairly regular parkrunnner), and at the end the comedian guest was Nish Kumar who was so funny.

Monday was our school trip, which is an exciting but also mega tiring day (not even having time to go to the toilet between 8am and 3.30pm shows how on the go it was), so when I got home I just wanted to sit down with a cup of tea and was very glad of my Monday rest day!

Tuesday was a 3 mile run in the muggy heat (it felt like a storm was coming to clear the air but never materialised), and Wednesday was yoga.

I went out on a walk at lunch time on Wednesday and saw that a few of the podcasts I’d been following had updates so it was interesting to hear the latest news. I also saw these pretty sweet pea flowers growing up a hedgerow.

On Thursday lunch we went out for a planning meeting and as it was hot and I thought I’d fancy an iced drink, I remembered to take my metal straw with me- I’ve now got a case which means I can carry it with me without it getting dirty, and also when it’s finished with, I can just rinse the case out (I got it from Ebay here, and the case also came with  different metal straws and a cleaning brush, whereas I thought it was just the case).

Thursday after work I went out for 4.5 miles catching up on the new With Me Now (with a bit of a local slant as a parkrun tourist had come to St Albans to do Jersey Farm parkrun (in a suburb of St Albans), and ended up doing St Albans parkrun instead)- again for my run doing a few loops in case I didn’t want to go as far in the heat, but all was good. I’d bought a watermelon and that is the perfect snack after a hot run.

I couldn’t make the school summer fair so had offered to make some cakes, so in the evening I made 4 batches of brownies- two with chocolate chips, and 2 with raspberries and white chocolate.

When I was buying the cake ingredients I saw this raw millionaire shortbread and had that as a post-run snack- loving the recyclable packaging too. To counteract that, I had some lovely Pret mango which is the best dried mango (the sulphites in all the other brands give me stomach ache) but probably buying it in the little plastic packets isn’t the best.

Do you like to tail walk? Are there lots of signs on your parkrun course to be put out/collected? What sort of podcasts are you listening to at the moment?

Limping around RHS Wisley and seeing Rocketman

Two weeks ago on Saturday I didn’t go to parkrun as I’d fallen over and was limping around (when you have to go up the stairs one at a time, going to a running event isn’t a good idea). We’d planned to head to RHS Wisley on the Saturday anyway, so we drove down late morning.

It was a lovely place to wander (limp) around, with beautiful flowers, some amazing carvings, and some test beds where they try out different types of the same plant to see how they cope with various weather conditions.

After a few hours of walking my knee was really throbbing so we went to the cafe. Andy wanted a piece of cake and I fancied a scone, and after paying for all of our bits, the lady told me they had no cream, but she had charged me for it. I thought she’d ask me to put my card back in and refund it to me, but she told me to “hurry up and choose” and it turned out she was giving me another cake instead. I clearly dithered too much, so she put a brownie in a paper bag and told me it was the best thing there. Something to save for later.

We walked around the big glasshouse, and along by the river to the bird hide (had a great view of a woodpecker feeding), and then headed to our hotel for a bit of a rest before walking over to the cinema to see Rocketman. I really loved this film- I found it very emotional, but I thought it was done really well- no rose tinted spectacles looking back on the past.

As we’d gone to an early evening screening, we then watched a bit of TV (the Isle of Wight festival, and then some Friends) while I propped my knee on a cushion to try and make it feel better.

On the Sunday morning we drove to Windsor for a wander in the sunshine.

Windsor, Gail’s cinnamon roll for breakfast, using a shower cap to keep my hand dry in the shower)

It turned out there was some sort of triathlon event going on, so we saw loads of people wandering around in wet suits. It was a beautiful day, although as soon as the sun went in the breeze made it chilly, and you’d put your coat on and then the sun would come out and it would be baking!

That week I would have had a few runs in the evening, but I was not even walking properly on it until the Wednesday so that of course was not a good idea. I had signed up for yoga and nearly didn’t go, as my hand was still a little weepy (I was keeping it covered at work to stop germs getting in), but in the end I decided to go and see how I got on. It was a summer solstice special, so we started off outside, focusing on our connection to the ground (rather damp and muddy- the teacher had brought a towel so we could wipe our feet when we went back inside). We didn’t do too many downward dogs and I could stay on my fingertips on my left hand for the ones we did, so it was OK. The most uncomfortable pose was child’s pose as my knee was still a little swollen.

I went out on a few gentle walks in the evenings (got to keep the 10,000 step per day streak going) as I didn’t want to stiffen up. I thought I’d manage a run on Thursday but it was still sore, so I decided to tail walk at parkrun on the Saturday and then I could see how I got on and give it the extra few days off.

I spent a few evenings pottering in the garden. We have a rose and it really appears as if it is luminous- I think it must have some sort of pigment that reflects UV light (or something similar) because especially as dusk it just appears to glow, and is so much brighter than any of the other flowers of a similar colour.

Which films have you enjoyed lately?

My 200th parkrun (arbitrary…)

A couple of weekends ago I realised I was about to celebrate my 200th parkrun. Now, I know it isn’t a proper milestone, but seeing as my 100th was well over 2 years ago and I still have over a year until the proper 250th, I decided to have a mini celebration. There are still a few local-ish parkruns that I haven’t been to (within an hour drive) so I messaged my dad to see if he fancied coming to Milton Keynes, to the one at Willen Lakes. He agreed, and also messaged his cousin, Brian, who lives in MK. We actually managed to get Brian into parkrun, although it was a misunderstanding as we thought he already did parkrun, but in fact when we met up with him at Linford Wood a couple of years ago, he’d been the week before on a “reconnaissance” trip.  He is now a regular there, and has done some tourism- he visited us at Ellenbrook Fields once, and he’s been to a few others when staying with family. Anyway, Brian agreed to meet us there as he’d not been to the Willen Lakes one yet.

It was a miserable day! Raining fairly hard, breezy and just rubbish. We all sat in one car in the car park until as late as possible! Then we found a tree to shelter under before the run briefing! I wasn’t sure from the map where the run started, as it wasn’t by the lake, but it was a very short walk from the car park and very easy to find- lots of runners (412) even on a rainy day. There were a few real milestones of 250 to be celebrated, and then we were off.

I loved this route- in fact we all did! We ran it at our own paces and met up at the end. It was a one lap (well, a point to point) which I always love, and it was so varied, passing the lake, the canal, through some woods, past the peace pergola, up a sort of zig zag path- you were constantly turning and seeing new scenery.

It was stinky weather though- I didn’t bring a cap as it was only drizzling at home so my glasses were constantly needing wiping from the rain.

I managed a good negative split with 9:38, 9:05, 8:48, 8:03 which I was pleased with. Towards the end I saw a lady and her son wearing matching leggings, so I commented on how I loved them, and she told me it meant he was easier to spot- good idea!

I have run around these lakes before as the Women’s Running magazine 10k race is around Willen, but it was in different directions (they do two laps of the lake, starting and finishing by the hotel) so at times I was trying to work out where I was compared to that route.

As I crossed the finish, I was given token number 200! What are the chances? A time of 28:32.

Dad had finished a few minutes ahead of me, and decided to try and take a photo of our backs (as we both had our 100 shirts on, to total 200) but it didn’t quite work out!

When Brian finished (shortly after me) we all changed out of our sopping wet clothes and went for a hot drink in the cafe.

As Brian couldn’t stay long we soon drove back home, where Mum made us pancakes and my sister, brother in law and niece were around too- it was such a good start to the weekend.

How do you celebrate milestones? My mum is already planning what cakes to make for my 250th even though it’s over a year away! Which milestone do you have coming up? 

Geese, global running day and getting outside

Because in general, alliteration pleases me…

On the Monday after half term we had some staff training, with the afternoon free to write reports. As I had finished mine, I headed home via town to pick up my free drink and then once home, did a bit of admin, including updating my parkrun touristing page on the blog- now at 63 different parkruns!

On Tuesday I changed into my running kit at work and stopped on my way home for a run around the lakes. This turned out to be not such a good decision- traffic was bad so I was feeling pretty stiff by the time I parked and got out, and then once at the lakes I got just over half way around and came across a load of geese and goslings.

Argh geese but yay, rabbits!

It was the Canada geese, which I usually don’t mind (I find the white ones with the orange beaks are usually more fierce) but these ones kept stepping towards me and looking at me. I stood there for what felt like five minutes (Strava thinks 3 minutes) before deciding to head back the way I had come rather than risk running past them. The path was fairly narrow with water on either side so I couldn’t really avoid them…

Wednesday was yoga, and as well as the fairy lights there is now bunting up in the garden. We had a focus on connections (to the ground, to ourselves) and it was a tough but really good session (lots of planks, side planks, lunge type things) and when we practised the handstand I was helped by Josie (the teacher) into one against the wall. I am still not confident with this, and my hands go all sweaty because I get so nervous doing it, but I know my arms are strong enough (just about) to hold me, it’s just having the belief and the trust when I am upside down.

It was also Global Running Day, as Run Disney helpfully informed me (whatever that is…)- in the morning I had to collect a parcel from an Amazon locker so I jogged around there so that I had one mile down for the day.

On Thursday I had a course which meant I could leave later than usual, so I went on a run first thing. They don’t supply lunch so I stopped on my way to get a sandwich. At lunch we had to leave the room so that they could set up for the afternoon, so I went and sat in the park and ate my lunch, and then walked around a bit. It was lovely to have some fresh air and to not have anything to do.

On Friday in the evening my parents had got tickets to see Mark Watson, so after dinner at home I drove back over to St Albans (with some Candy Kittens in my bag in case I fancied a snack). He was quite funny- thankfully gentle humour and the sort that you don’t mind seeing when sat next to your parents!

Are you a fan of geese? Do you like going to see stand up comedy? I am always worried about sitting too near the front in case the person starts talking to you, but thankfully in this show he’d left out postcards for people to fill in, and only mentioned things from that, so it was safe!