Bright10 2017, bad things coming in threes and a power cut!

So earlier in the week, yoga had been delayed due to a power cut in the building. I am totally useless about these things, but thankfully some other yogis were able to sort it out and we could proceed by fairy and candle-light. (I may have mentioned this before- at one point we all had to stop because I was in downward dog and then saw a big blob on the floor- I don’t wear my glasses so I got up to take a closer look and realised it was a big spider- not so relaxing!) Anyway, that wasn’t the only power cut that week.

On Saturday after visiting Bushy parkrun (which was very exciting) we headed off to Petworth (a National Trust place of course) for a walk. We’d bought lunch in town earlier so we sat in the gardens and ate it before walking around. The houses don’t tend to interest me that much, but we always walk through to be polite- this one had a big art collection and also a very cool thing- the oldest known globe in the world. I love looking at maps, and this one had expeditions such as Drake’s voyage marked in red across it. I looked at that for quite a while.

Of course we had to visit the tearoom, it would be rude not to (and we now have a loyalty card so wanted a stamp for that). We shared some ginger cake, and although it was lovely, it was self service which I am not personally keen on.

Just look at the side of the mushroom I found! Bigger than my head (or shoe- easier to photograph…)

Later in the afternoon we headed into Chichester for a wander around the shops before heading to the cinema as we had booked to see The Snowman (not the cartoon Christmas one…). I was really looking forward to it because the advert looked great, and although I hadn’t read the book, I had read others by the same author and found them to be page-turners. However the film was disappointing. It wasn’t awful- the film didn’t drag or anything, and it was tense at times, but there were loads of plot holes and weird jumps, so some of it was a bit confusing. It seemed like it strayed too far from the book (this hopefully isn’t a spoiler but apparently in the book the murderer cuts legs and arms off and uses them in place of the sticks for the limbs of a snowman- in the film the murder just build a snowman nearby which was creepy but not really the point of it- but then still had the weird cheese wire thing for cutting the limbs off). If you like a thriller, Wind River (which we saw a few weeks ago) was way better and really worth looking for. I also think a Norwegian film with subtitles would have been better than a load of random English actors (kudos to Borg vs McEnroe who had subtitles for the Swedish bits).

When the film finished I had an awful headache (maybe from the tension?)- we headed to GBK on the retail park by the cinema and had a quick dinner before going to our hotel. Thankfully my headache left once I had eaten some food but I made sure to drink a bit more water as I probably hadn’t drank that much during the day.

The next morning we had about a 40 minute drive to Brighton- I wasn’t really hungry when I woke up. I’d packed a Clif bar (coconut chocolate chip)- I thought it would be white chocolate (due to the colour of the mountain- now I see clearly that it doesn’t say that anywhere) and although I usually prefer dark over white, I wasn’t feeling it, so only ate about half. I thought I would be fine as I usually do my long runs before breakfast, and the race started nice and early (9am) so it wouldn’t be too late after to eat breakfast. I took my shot bloks in my belt just in case. Our journey went fine- we parked in a car park in Hove around 5 minutes walk from the start. I did think that I needed the toilet but Andy convinced me it was all in my brain and I really didn’t want to use either the car park toilets or the port-a-loos, so my decision was made. I’d jut dropped my bag off when it was time to line up -perfect timing!

I didn’t have any plans for finish times- I was aiming for under 1.40 (so just under 10 minute miles) but I was wary because last year it was very windy and my leg got sore part way through- sort of twisted- and I really slowed. I knew I wouldn’t get a pb (my 10 mile pb is 1:33.51 which I achieved at the 2015 Bright10), and also it is a bit tricky because the hill is a little later on than it is in the half or full marathon, coming at mile 4 and 5. It was a fairly bright day so I was just out to enjoy myself. I did glance at my watch every now and then to check I was under 10 minutes per mile, but mostly I occupied myself with looking at the other runners (one guy ran in a full on Elmo suit- no idea how he did that). I was so glad I had only worn my vest and not a t-shirt as after only a mile or so I was dripping with sweat- I’d worn a sweatband on my wrist which was much needed!

The course was a little different from past years- last year we ran around the Marina a bit but I think work was going on which meant it had to be avoided. It starts on the Hove lawns (where Hove Prom parkrun starts)- you do a loop of the lawns and run towards Hove for a bit, before joining the seafront and running past the colourful beach huts. At the 2 mile point you are back by the lawns again and close to the start, before running along the seafront, past the big tower and the pier and then up the hill towards Roedean. This bit is tough as you are going up hill but can see all the faster runners already heading down on the other side of the road. This year the wind was behind as you ran up the hill so it wasn’t as bad as it could be. At the 5 mile point you are at the top of the hill and have to run along a little more before turning around and enjoying the downhill  for a mile (albeit into the wind this time). You then run down a path towards the Marina and have a u-turn to run along the seafront (East) and then a sharp u-turn to end up running west along the seafront. The 8 mile marker was close to the pier so I ended up looking in the crowds in case I could see Andy (he’d gone to have breakfast while I was running, and was going to meet me at the finish). I didn’t spot him but apparently he saw me. Mile 9 is around the Hove lawn area, and by that point the crowds were thick with loads of great signs and enthusiastic cheering- Brighton does always have great crowd support. You then have to run a loop (but not as big as the one at the start) to come around to the beach huts again. I was feeling OK but quite thirsty at the end- it was fairly warm and I had noticed the drinks stations but felt OK at the time- really I should have had something at the final one.

My final time was 1:35.14, which must be my second fastest 10 miles and only a couple of minutes off my pb. I was pretty pleased with that. My final mile was 8.46 and all the others began with 9 so I was pleased to have run a fairly consistent pace.

I was given my medal (which is fantastic as always, and this year had lovely details on the ribbon too).

The finish area had water bottles and clif bars so I took water for now, and a clif bar for another day, and then had a little wander after collecting my bag. There was an amazing stand called Parklife with the best array of cakes, so I bought a peanut butter square for later (I was going to get a tea but they didn’t have Earl Grey so I thought I’d wait).

Andy met me with an almond croissant so I enjoyed my breakfast as we walked into Brighton. I’d packed a towel and change of clothes- usually we stay in Brighton and I can go back to the hotel for a shower, but this year that wasn’t an option so I headed to the swimming pool in the centre- I had to pay £5 but it meant I could use their showers and changing rooms to feel a little more human (although I did wander around the changing rooms for ages because I could not find the showers- I could hear them but could not see them anywhere…). The hairdryers were really like someone gently blowing warm air onto you, which made no difference to my hair, but as it was a fairly warm day this didn’t matter too much (and I’d packed a hat in case it was cold-wet hair makes me so cold).

Andy had bought a big cup of tea while I was in there, and then we walked around the shops a bit. Of course I couldn’t resist going to Bluebird tea (and one of the staff members recognised me as I am such a regular- we hadn’t been to Brighton for months!)- they were doing their own version of a pumpkin spice latte using their teabags, spices and almond milk. I was still super thirsty so had one of those too- it was delicious!

We had booked lunch at Food for Friends, my favourite restaurant. I have mentioned it on here before but it’s an amazing veggie and vegan place that just has the best options. Usually when I go out I will look at the two veggie options, but here I can choose from the whole menu and it’s all such tasty and fresh stuff. Anyway, as we arrived they asked us to wait for a bit, and then told us a little later that they had had a power cut, and had to close and send everyone away. I was so sad- I had been looking forward to it so much.

Everywhere looked fairly busy so we went to Leon in the end-  they do really good hummus so we got some chips and hummus to share, I had a really good haloumi wrap and we shared a lemon ginger crunch bar – all so tasty if not quite what we had planned. We shall have to go back to Brighton sooner rather than later!

We then walked back to Hove to the car park before driving home- we drove past the park where Brighton and Hove parkrun starts, so I think that might be on my list for the next time we are down.

As for the bad things coming in threes- we saw three separate car/bike crashes that day- once as we were walking to the town centre we heard tyres screech and then a bang- we turned around to see a motorcyclist on the road, having been knocked off by a car. Lots of people were nearby (and we hadn’t actually seen it) so we carried on. When walking back we saw a guy pull over and open his car door without looking, so a car driving past drove into the car door and bent it, and then on the motorway we saw the carnage left behind (a motorbike wheel totally broken off) after a lorry and bike had collided. Not good. I’m just waiting for the third powercut…

Are you a fan of self-serve cafes? I never trust that someone else has not touched or coughed on some of the food…

Where is your favourite restaurant? Have you seen (or read) The Snowman?

Peanut butter caramel slices

I have still been loving the Bake Off. Yes, I love Mel and Sue and I miss them (and Mary) but Noel and Sandy are funny too. And really I watch it because I find it so relaxing- I don’t mind who goes home or who wins. I like to see them bake new things and decide that I will never attempt something that looks such a faff (mini swiss rolls) or maybe give something a go (I think the first time I tried to make a Battenberg was because I had seen it on Bake Off). Anyway, the other week was caramel week and inspired by it (because I think they made it look harder than it actually is) I have created my own recipe for peanut butter caramel slices.

Base:

150g soft margarine (Pure spread)

6 tbs brown sugar

165g plain flour

60g rolled oats

Caramel:

125g butter

1 tin condensed milk

75g brown sugar

1 tbs golden syrup

Plus 3 tbs peanut butter (to add later)

Topping:

200g dark chocolate

1 tbs peanut butter

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C

Line a square brownie tin with baking paper

Cream together the margarine and sugar for the base. Stir in the flour and oats, then press into the bottom of the tin.

Bake for around 25 minutes until golden

To make the caramel, put the butter, sugar, condensed milk and syrup in a pan. Gently heat and stir for around 10 minutes. The mixture will bubble but it should not spit. It will gradually turn darker as it thickens. I don’t use a thermometer for this bit- to test if it is thick enough put a little blob on a plate, leave for a few seconds and then push it with your finger to see if it has thickened. Once it has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Pour the peanut butter caramel over the base and leave to cool.

To make the topping, melt the dark chocolate (I have a nice thick bowl that I can use in the microwave) and then stir in the peanut butter. Pour over the caramel and leave to set again.

Once set, slice and enjoy.

Do you like caramel slices? What would your ultimate flavour combination be?

The home of parkrun!!!!

On Sunday I was due to run the Bright10, a 10 mile race in Brighton. I’ve run it the past 2 years and we’ve usually stayed in Brighton for the weekend, but this year we could not find any affordable hotels. In the end we booked to stay in Arundel, which is about 20 miles away from Brighton, so we could drive in on Sunday morning. As it’s in the South Downs we could have some nice walks on the Saturday too. We hadn’t booked anything for the Friday night, but Andy had a look and amazingly found a hotel “near to that parkrun that you always want to do”- Bushy parkrun!

So on Friday night after work we drove in to the Premier Inn in Kingston upon Thames.

On Saturday morning I had around a 1.5 mile run as a warm up- I had to run through Kingston (and only got lost once), over a bridge, to the edge of the park, and then along a straight path to the centre.

I was rather excited!

Once in the park I was amazed to see stags (and hear them bellowing)- there was a sign on the gate but they were so close to the path. They were all being followed (rather closely) by people in camouflage with ridiculously over-sized lenses on their cameras.

This was where the run started

I didn’t see that many runners on the way, (they must mostly come from a different direction) but once I reached the middle of the park there were people everywhere and all spread out. I’d worked out one group of people were waiting by the toilets, so as I wandered around looking for high-viz people or a start sign, I was a lady walking along with the new runner briefing sign. There were of course lots of new runners- particularly groups from running clubs on organised trips, and even a few brand new parkrunners. They told us about the famous “double funnel” which Southampton also has (and probably others, but that’s the only one I have been to).

With over 1000 runners it was no surprise that they had a proper speaker (perched in a tree) for the main briefing- I couldn’t see where the RD was at all, but it was quite a funny briefing (warning us that the deer could run faster than us..).

The start was very wide so even with 1233 (why not one more for 1234?) runners it didn’t feel too busy. I didn’t want to go too fast as I had the race the following day, so a little later when I saw a stag sitting in the grass I ran to the side and took some photos.

You can see the runners in the distance as we ran past the deer and then turned left at the end of the path.

The run was so enjoyable- it’s a very flat route and wound through the park, through bracken and fern, running alongside a road briefly before finishing by a lake. There were plenty of marshals out, and I enjoyed spotting some vintage parkrun t-shirts (I saw a few of the black and gold 250 ones).

As I was finishing the funnel manager was shouting at the guy a few people behind me to go into the left tunnel (I had to stay right)- the person behind me was given a letter (Q- they start at A)- so when we eventually got to collect our tokens (about 10 minutes later) they knew to switch over to the other side. All very clever.

I was number 745- my highest (lowest?) placing- I think I’ve only been to one with over 700 runners before.

After having my chip scanned I didn’t hang around as Andy was going to meet me in the park (and it finished in a slightly different place which of course confused me).

I ran a little way but then he’d managed to walk nearly to the start so we walked back together.

As we walked back through Kingston I popped into Starbucks to get a drink to take back to the hotel- Andy had bought us chocolate almond croissants for breakfast.

So, Bushy parkrun- what a great one to visit- one lap, deer, flat course, not too crowded…. My time was 28.52 (26th in my age cat- there aren’t usually 26 in total in my age cat!) and I was pleased to manage negative splits of 9.22, 9.08, 8.59, 8.28.

Then we were off National Trust walking, so I’ll save that for later.

Have you been to Bushy parkrun? What is the largest parkrun you’ve been to?

A longer run and a walk around Wimpole

Last Sunday I headed out on my longest run for ages- 11 miles. It was beautiful weather- such blue skies- and the leaves were looking fabulous.

I took quite a few photos as I was running and really enjoyed myself. Well, apart from one incident. I was running along the old railway line- it’s a very wide path in some woods. I’d passed people walking or running in both directions, some with dogs. At one point a dog ran out of the undergrowth and in front of me- the people walking it apologised but it was fine as it didn’t trip me up or anything.  At one point I was running down the path and I passed a guy running in the other direction who had a dog running behind him.  As the dog ran past me, it doubled back and started growling at me. I stood still (I find that dogs seem to like the movement of running and think it’s a bit of a game, and also when the Dog’s Trust came into work they told the children to stand still if approached by a dog they don’t know), but the dog was lurching at me, running around me in small circles and growling. The guy who was running hadn’t even turned around at that point, so I called at him “can you please call your dog?”. He then turned around and called it several times before the dog started to go to him (he was around 20m away and seeing as he was out running I don’t know why he didn’t run back..)- I was about to go when the dog ran back to me again, growling and going around me in circles. I shouted at him “can you please come and get  your dog as it isn’t coming” but he just called it again. Eventually the dog ran back to him, so I shouted (I think politely) “if you can’t control your dog, it should be on a lead”. He said to me “sometimes he’s a bit naughty but he won’t hurt you” , so I called at him “you still need to be able to control your dog as that was really quite frightening”. I turned and carried on and honestly I felt like crying- I was really worried that the dog was going to bite me. There were a couple of ladies out walking a bit further down and they had been watching- they asked if I was OK which was really kind of them.

The rest of my run passed without incident thankfully, although it was a rather slow one (11 miles in around 2 hours).

After a shower and breakfast we headed up to Wimpole- we’d been there years ago (and I did the parkrun there a little over a year ago) but as it’s really our nearest National Trust place we felt like we should go a bit more often.

There’d been a running event there in the morning ( a half marathon and 10 mile) and we saw a few people wandering around wearing their medals, and the gazebos in the race village were being put away. We had a wander through the walled garden (getting ideas for our own garden) before walking around the fields- I think we walked most of the parkrun course but in reverse. It was time for a tearoom stop after that!

The tearoom situation was not the best- there was a restaurant with a hug queue and everywhere was busy but the tearoom was really a kiosk where you helped yourself (I really do not like that- especially when people do not use the tongs or jut breathe all over the food)- and there was no seating. I’d chosen a scone and I had to stand around for ages and ended up finding a bench so I could rest the plate on my lap. Must try harder Wimpole! Anyway, it was an enjoyable afternoon out.

Once we got home it was time to finish the last few bits of work before having dinner and watching some TV.

Also, I think I might be the only runner who has not only not applied to the London marathon ballot (not “The marathon”, because there are many more…), but is also not really fussed about it. Partly the ballot system is annoying- I’m not sure why they let you know so much later as the ballot closed months ago. But although I love watching it on TV, the huge crowds make it seem much more stressful. I think I’d rather run somewhere new and see different sights too.

The rest of last week was fairly normal, although we did a new route with the club on Tuesday night- our run leader is great at estimating route lengths and we were told “5 miles, ish”- well it ended up being a little over 6 miles, but a good new route (although we’d need torches for a bit of it). Yoga was great as always although there was a power cut so it started a bit later, and then part way through we had to stop because I saw a massive spider on the floor- they put it outside for me! On Thursday I popped by my parents and felt so tired by the time I got home so I skipped my run in favour of a walk, which turned out to be the right decision as when we got back from the walk my legs went all shaky, not sure why but I think I’d just been really tired.

Did you enter London? Are you keen on dogs? I don’t mind dogs, but I object to anyone telling me that their dog is fine when it is leaping up at me.

Happy birthday parkrun! And weekend incentives

So as I mentioned before, on Friday night (a week ago) I was off out with work. We went for dinner at Frankie and Benny’s- not somewhere I would choose (I’ve been to one twice before- we complained the first time as the service was so poor, and were given vouchers, and on the second visit we had to give the vouchers in straight away, and the service was still awful, and all the fried food isn’t really my favourite) but I had a nice wrap with goats cheese and avocado (at 9.35 I might add- our table was booked for 8- so service still ridiculously slow) and then a peanut butter cheesecake for dessert.

On Saturday I was off to Ellenbrook Fields to celebrate parkrun’s 13th birthday! I was meant to be doing the new runners briefing, and had my sign and clipboard (and spoke to a few people informally about it as they had seen the sign)- anyway we then had to do a group photo of everyone in their apricot tops, and then the RD told me that there wasn’t time for the briefing any more. I went back to speak to the couple of people who had come up to me before, and another person came over so we had a sort of whispered briefing while the volunteers were being clapped. I felt like a bit of a fraud getting my thank you text later.

Here we all are on the start line!

Dad had cycled there and I managed to find him at the start just before it began. He was back from his huge cycle ride through Spain, and said as he hadn’t run since before he went he would see how he got on. We were chatting and catching up with life from the past two weeks, and enjoying the run. I am sure I have said it before but I love the Ellenbrook course as you do a little loop and a big loop, and when you finish the little loop you run past the RD, timers, token scanners etc so there are always lots of cheers and friendly faces.

Anyway, I didn’t feel like we were going too fast (and I never look at my Garmin) and as we neared the end Dad decided to go for a sprint finish- I knew I couldn’t keep up with him for that bit so I said I’d see him at the end. My watch beeped for the 3rd mile and I glanced at it, seeing 8.38 on the screen. “Hmm, that’s quite fast” I thought, and then saw 26 something on the watch. My pb is 26.33 at Ellenbrook and 26.29 all-time, so I put in a bit of a sprint for the final bit.

I got token 73, which seemed high for me, but I didn’t know my exact time until I got the text- 26.38! It’s my third fastest time ever, and I didn’t really feel like I was beyond myself until that final sprint. All my miles began with 8’s too (I think they would have to for that time I suppose)- 8.45, 8.42, 8.38- pretty close splits as I often have a much bigger difference between my first and last mile time.

One day I will actually aim for a pb but I was happy to enjoy the run with Dad. Perhaps peanut butter cheesecake is the key to a faster run?

I then drove home while Dad cycled, and we enjoyed a lovely breakfast. My brother (who didn’t run as he was playing football later) joined us, as did my sister, her husband and their baby. Mum has one of those chalk boards in the kitchen- I did love that she had written pancakes on it so we knew what we would be having!

We also had an email from my dad’s cousin Brian (we ran with him in Milton Keynes)- he has been loving parkrun and did his 21st run on their birthday, getting a pb too! We are trying to arrange for him to come down to us and run at Ellenbrook so he can be introduced to parkrun tourism.

After a very leisurely breakfast (which included us booking tickets to see Joe Lycett – he always has the funniest names for his tours- this one is “I’m about to lose control and I think Joe Lycett”) I headed home and had to spend several hours doing some work. Later I needed to stretch my legs so we walked the longer way to town, got our free drinks from Starbucks and then walked home, where I spent a couple more hours working. I did have an incentive as we’d decided to go to Wimpole hall (National Trust with lovely grounds) on the Sunday so long as I didn’t have much work left.

Did you celebrate parkrun’s birthday?