Panshanger parkrun for IWD, llamas or alpacas, and not quite Disneyland Paris…

Last weekend we had planned to head to Disneyland Paris, for the Star Wars and Frozen extras that are going on. Due to a few different things, we didn’t end up going, which was a shame but meant I could go to parkrun- silver linings and all that! As they were celebrating IWD I wore my purple Disney top to fit with the colour scheme.

I parked up and headed for a little warm up run, to see the llama (or alpaca- I’m never sure). My hands were so cold they went bright pink! I managed to time it quite well, getting back to the start with a few minutes to spare. They had a few milestones including (an arbitrary) 200th run.

I loved running around there, as I’d not been for ages (recently I’ve been going to Jersey Farm with Dad more often) and it is such a pretty park. When I edited my run on Strava I added IWD as I could not be bothered to type out the words, and it turned the route purple.

I’d bought some almond croissants to make us feel better about not going to France, and added a few chocolate buttons before heating them up, because chocolate almond croissants are king.

My tea club arrived (including cream egg tea and simnel cake tea) which also cheered me up. Then we headed out to visit a couple of National Trust places, Wicken Fen and then Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.

It was lovely to get outside in the fresh air.

Silver birch trees are my favourite.

On Sunday I ran 9 miles (realising that the next half marathon is only 3 weeks away- and I realise now that it probably won’t go ahead, but I enjoy the running anyway)- it was chilly but really felt like spring was around the corner. We’d been to Lidl and got these delicious marzipan dark chocolate eggs (well, they are shaped like half an egg)- soooo good.

On Tuesday I had to pick up an order in town, so decided I would change into my running kit at work and then run around town. This was all good and I had a 5 mile run, but then as soon as I stopped running I got really cold. I picked up a chai latte as Caffe Nero was still open, and then collected my order (a yoga mat) and then had to walk back with the awkward box under my arm- not so easy!

I also loved the reminder on the Action for Happiness app- I feel I need this now more than ever.

On Wednesday I walked up to Starbucks at lunch, and due to the C virus they were not letting you use your own cups, so I had to have my drink in a paper cup and then pour it into my cup myself (I wanted it to stay warm for the afternoon). Seems a bit of a waste but equally I can see why everyone is so worried about it.

I went to yoga for the first time in ages, and took my mat with me.

We practised a handstand against the wall, and even though (as I get so nervous) my hands were so sweaty, with a little bit of help from the teacher I managed to get both legs up and even held it for a few moments before coming down. Later we also did headstands, and I can get one leg up, so the teacher steadied my hips and I managed to put up my other leg. I felt like I would overbalance, but I think it is psychological and I find it hard to work out where my limbs are when I am upside down. I know so much of this is down to my belief in myself, as I know I am strong enough, I just have to have confidence. I’m getting there!

On Thursday I had a busy day and we were heading into London after work to see a podcast recording (Reasons to be Cheerful), so I got up early to have a run before work instead. As it was just getting light it wasn’t as bad as last time I tried (where there were no streetlights).  3 miles done and I felt pretty good- I think I was running before my muscles started aching from yoga!

At work I feel like I am out of touch from the world (no constant new updates) and when I got home I think Andy didn’t really want to go into London due to all of the news of the virus spreading, but in the end we didn’t think the trains would be that busy (they weren’t) and we only needed the overground so it wasn’t too bad. The actual podcast was really good (I think they said it would be out next week)- all about nature and farming and carbon, and Robin Ince (from Infinite Monkey Cage) was their comedy guest and I think we all needed that. I was shattered when we got home though.

How has the virus started to affect you? At the moment at work we have to wash our hands a lot (and so do the kids- eg as soon as they come in, before they go home as well as the other usual times), but Andy is now working at home and not having any face to face meetings. Have you seen any podcast recordings? 

A sunny run, baking and making pizza

I LOVE the Pret chocolate almond butter cookies, and usually if I go into a Pret (thankfully we don’t have one in town) I will end up getting one. I love baking, so thought I should have a go at making them myself. After a bit of googling, I found this recipe and gave it a go last weekend.

They turned out very well, although they didn’t spread much in the oven so I think next time I would flatten them out a bit more first.

On Sunday I headed out for a run- it was lovely running weather, but still so much flooding about. I was feeling really tired, so I cut it short at 6 miles. I was tempted to stay out for longer, but I decided it was better to quit while I was ahead.

Once home I did a bit of baking (brownies for work) and listened to this podcast, which I thought could be relevant with the C19 spreading, only I was sort of making a joke, and now it seems that everyone is panic buying gigantic bags of dried rice.

We popped over to see Andy’s parents, and then I made pizza’s using the Cook Eat Run recipe. The tomato sauce is really good, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. (I had pineapple on mine, and then the rest we had the same with tomatoes, artichokes, pesto and vegan cheese).

Also how cute is the basil pot?

I’ve also been loving Red Velvet tea- we made a pot last weekend and it was a particularly pink brew!

We’ve also seen a few films lately- Bombshell (which seems to be replicated at the moment with the bullying allegations in the government) and Dark Waters which was just horrifying. We’ve also watched a couple more Netflix documentaries- one about the founder of Bikram yoga and all the complaints against him, and then one called American Factory about a Chinese glass company setting up in an old car factory in the USA (lots of stuff about poor working conditions etc). So, nothing cheerful!

On Monday my Action for Happiness app had this lovely prompt, which was perfect for my run- beautiful clouds, sky, trees, flowers…

I was feeling good, but after going to bed feeling fine, I woke up in the night feeling awful. I had bad stomach pains, kept feeling nauseous and dizzy, and was dripping with sweat so much that I had to wipe up the bathroom floor. I didn’t go into work the next day, but after being awake most of the night and then sleeping in the morning, I felt a bit better in the afternoon. I went out to stretch my legs and get some fresh air, and that helped too. No idea what it was that caused it…

Feeling better in the evening/ icy windscreen/ not many steps on a sick day/ a good podcast

On Wednesday I was back at work and went out on a walk at lunch, listening to the Science Vs Podcast- it was very interesting and I think we just should not panic about it at the moment.

I had a late meeting so no yoga (again).

On Thursday I got totally soaked on my run- it rained all day and some of my usual routes were very waterlogged. As it was World Book Day I took it seriously and had a hot water bottle in bed while I read a book.

What fast food can’t you resist? 

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!