Rushmere parkrun

Confusingly, in the space of a few weeks I have now been to Rushmoor and Rushmere parkrun. Rushmere was this past weekend. It’s close to Leighton Buzzard, in Bedfordshire, but apparently the route is actually in Buckinghamshire. Anyway, I went to my parents house and then my Dad drove me and my brother up to the country park where the parkrun is held. Parking was £3 which you paid on exit- there was plenty of parking for us and the field with the finish funnel was directly next to the car park so no chance of getting lost!

Finish funnel/ my attempt at a mid-run photo of the course/ the flag in the field by the start/finish

We got there with around 20 mins to spare, and waited in the car for a bit (it was so chilly!) before getting out and using the toilets (I wouldn’t usually, but it had been a good hour journey)- this meant we missed the tourist briefing- whoops!

We had looked it up in advance and knew it was two laps through woodland- it sounded perfect.

The main briefing was brilliant too- the RD stood on a picnic table and welcomed everyone, gave a special mention to the volunteers who had arrived early to clear the storm debris from the course, and then introduced the gong– this was so exciting! If you get a pb, or if it is your first time (automatically a pb anyway) or even if you’re having a good hair day you were allowed to ring the gong. I was very much looking forward to that! We were warned of other debris en route particularly conkers and apples (“It’s as if someone had thrown marbles all over the path”), particularly on the steep descent.

After the briefing we walked along a path a little way, as the route wasn’t quite 2 full laps, and then we were off. Dad whizzed off right away, and I ended up with a bit of back and forth with my brother- I’d overtake him on the up bits, and he’d overtaken me on the downhills. The course was through woodland and just wonderful- winding through trees, gently up and down. At one point we ran near the edge of the forest so you could see across fields on one side, before heading back into the woods again. I think there were only 4 marshals out there, but they were all great, clapping everyone past. The steep descent even had a warning sign, and it was so steep so I really slowed- lots of tree roots to look for too, and I didn’t fancy falling over. A two lap is always enjoyable (not quite as good as one lap, but close) because the 1.5 mile seems to go by so fast, and then you remember a few bits on the second loop and know what to look out for. Running through the finish area once is good too as all the timers and scanners cheer you on.

As I neared the finish one runner put in a great sprint finish so I cheered him as he overtook me. I could hear someone else coming, and it turned out to be Tony – it was quite fun having a mini battle. (He did say he wondered if it was OK to overtake me with metres to go but of course it’s all fine). I had sped up a little to try and stay as close to him as possible and when the results came through (30:21) I thought that maybe I needed 21 for my parkrun bingo, and I was right!

Of course we had to bang the gong afterwards- we all took turns while we took photos. I did a rather gentle one, and then Tony whacked it so hard! It was great though as people gave you a little clap, and after we moved away a few other people rang it, so we clapped them. I’ve seen a pb bell at Tring, but the gong takes some beating. I feel like Ellenbrook could do with something but I am not sure what else- maybe something linked to it being on an old airfield? Ideas on a postcard please!

That was my 49th parkrun venue! They seem to be mounting up so quickly now. I’m so close to finishing bingo now- I only need 17 and 18 seconds now (although it’s not something you can plan for, as even if you time it on your watch, you won’t know exactly when the timer for parkrun pressed “go”).

The RD chatted to us and invited us to the cafe for breakfast, but Mum had promised pancakes so we headed back to see her. We have planned a revisit in the spring and hopefully Mum will come with us to watch and we can go to the cafe after then.

Does your parkrun have anything to celebrate pb’s with?

A parkrun open sandwich

A few times I have run to and from parkrun, but the two parkruns closest to me are a little bit far away for it to be a regular thing- Panshanger is 4 miles away (equalling an 11 mile run) and Ellenbrook Fields is 5 miles (so the run there + back + parkrun = a half marathon) so I tend to run to and from parkruns when I am touring. Last weekend we were busy on Sunday, so I decided to have a long run on Saturday morning instead. I’d chatted to my Dad who had decided to go to Panshanger, as EF warned of a busy car park due to all the freshers arriving at Herts uni (you park in the Herts uni car park).

This meant I could run there and ask Dad to give me a lift part of the way home. I had to do a slightly longer run as I wanted to total 9 miles, so in the end I did just under 6 miles on the way there- I got a bit panicked that I was cutting it fine as the last bit takes a deceptively long time, but in the end I got to the start with about 10 mins to spare- just enough time to hang my jumper on the fence and then chat to Dad.

The parkrun miles were my fastest (finishing with a 9.05 mile) so I was pretty pleased with that, having not run that far since August (as we were doing the 10k).

In the end Dad dropped me off at home, which was much appreciated- I did suggest a roundabout so he didn’t have to detour at all, but that was still a mile and a half from me (as the road is more direct than the path). Then it was time to have a quick shower and then time to head into London for the rest of the day.

For some reason all the pictures of just me were super windswept, while if it was the two of us my hair was all neat!

We got the train to Finsbury park and then the tube onwards to Oxford Street- we popped into a couple of shops and picked up a picnic to take to the park. (Side note, does anyone else hate that Pret don’t put the labels on the actual food packets? We were going to share a veggie flatbread, but it was by the shelf labels for a tuna flatbread-you could see that they were the wrong way around but I just didn’t quite trust it so we got a vegan special wrap instead).

Andy wanted to see the big sculpture in Hyde Park so we walked around the lake, before walking to Trafalgar Square and then Covent Garden. On our way we popped to the BB bakery and got a pistachio cupcake to take home for dessert. I wanted to go to Lululemon and try on some running shorts, and as we cut through a side street we both stopped as we could smell the most amazing smell. We realised we were right outside a Swedish bakery, so I could not resist buying a cinnamon roll for us to share too.

We also saw a few of these rhinos- I love it when there is a trail like this (I think the best I’ve done is the Snowdogs in Brighton). We then got the tube to Angel so I could go to Bird & Blend for some of the pumpkin spice tea, but yet again (am I cursed?) the tea wasn’t for sale until the Sunday- gah!

Annoyingly we just missed a train by about 5 mins, and then the next train we were going to get was cancelled, so we ended up sitting on the platform for nearly an hour.

By the time we got home I’d walked over 37,000 steps (because of the run first thing too) so I watched some of Extra Slice (I love the hedgehog cakes so much) and had a cup of tea and shared the cinnamon roll, which was amazing. (The cupcake for dessert later was also very good, but so much icing- I have no idea how people could eat one by themselves without having frosting overload). Although I felt quite tired by the evening, I was pretty pleased that I’d run a fairly long way and been walking all day and not felt too stiff or sore. I have signed up to a half marathon in a couple of weeks, and I realised that my long runs were really in August so I needed to do a few closer to it to check I can still manage it.

Sunday was spent out and about- in the garden centre, sorting out new plants (and the shed tidy- an idea stolen from Pinterest – it hangs on the door for all the gloves, trowels etc) and visiting family.

Which baked goods can you not resist? A warm cinnamon roll is one of my absolute favourites.  Are you an icing or a cake person?  I do like a little bit of icing, and I think they make cakes look prettier, but I really can’t eat the mountains that are usually on little cupcakes.

Another weekend in Brighton

I am so behind with blog posts at the moment, so this is from 2 weeks ago now. For the final weekend of the summer holidays we had booked a Friday night in Brighton. After getting the train down and dropping our bags off at the hotel, we made it to Bird&Blend tea for drinks to take with us on a lovely long walk along to Hove Prom.

We had dinner in Leon and then the next morning I went to parkrun and we met for breakfast after in Cafe Coho (I love their pancakes with berries).

Then we had the rest of the day to wander around Brighton. We headed East along the coast (we normally go West towards Hove) and saw a sort of car drag race thing happening (an official thing with a start and end gantry) so we watched that for a bit. It was really hot and there were so many people sunbathing on the beaches.

We  went around the shops in the lanes for a bit in the afternoon, and when we felt we needed a sit down, went into Cloud 9 for some tea and a piece of cake to share.  Then we walked back to Hove, before going to Food for Friends for dinner. We had sat down at the table and began looking at the menu when we were approached by one of the members of staff, asking if we could move because we’d been sat at the wrong table by mistake, and they needed to put our table with some others for a bigger reservation. Of course this was fine with us, but they were so apologetic and told us we could have bread and olives as an apology. This was lovely of them, and it wasn’t something we would usually order but it was a great selection of different breads with the all important balsamic vinegar to dip into.

Before going to the train station I wanted to stop off at Bird&Blend (I am doing so well not calling them Bluebird any more) as they made a Brighton cup which I had looked at on the Friday but hadn’t decided. Anyway, I also wanted to go there on the Saturday as it was the 1st September and I wanted to get some of the “Honey I’m Comb” tea from the tea club ( out in September).

(Yes, still having the problems with the upside-down photos…) but when I asked about it, they told me that they were in store but not on sale until the Sunday- insert sad face. They were so lovely and when I ordered an Earl Grey cream latte for the train journey (basically a London Fog- Earl grey + vanilla + steamed almond milk) they told me it was free as a way of an apology, which of course they didn’t need to do. We would just have to head to another one before the end of September!

Of course, anyone who has got a train recently will know what a faff it can be, and after getting to the station with 10 mins to spare, our train was promptly cancelled. We managed to get a Gatwick Express and then change there, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

On the Sunday morning I did 7 sunny miles before getting myself sorted for going back to work on the Monday- how have those 6 weeks gone by so fast?

 

Bevendean Down parkrun- what amazing views!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tring parkrun round 2, tea and tidying the garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

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

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

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