Brighton half 2021 and enjoying a weekend away

In times past, I would be in Brighton for the weekend several times a year- for the half marathon (usually in February) and the 10k (November time) but also maybe a last-weekend-of-the-summer-holidays trip, or a weekend in May for my birthday, or a long weekend over Easter…. this weekend we realised that we had not been down to Brighton for over a year.

We drove down on the Friday night- we did look at trains but there were the dreaded rail replacement buses on the Sunday- we got a Just Park driveway which was super easy.

Finish token, Brighton in the sunshine and acai bowl breakfast

Of course I could not resist going to parkrun. Hove Prom was the closest to our hotel (but only just)- it was heaving with people! Joe Wilkinson was marshalling and I spent a lot of the first lap wondering if I said something like “hey, you were really funny on The Last Leg” if he would then wonder if I didn’t think he was funny on Cats does Countdown…. so I just said “thank you marshal” as usual…

Andy picked us up some acai bowls for breakfast ready for when I got back, and then we went on a nice long walk to Hove and back. It was such a gorgeous day and so warm. I’d only packed thermal long sleeved tops (one for each day) and a sweatshirt, so I was boiling! That will teach me to pack lightly! In the end I changed into the t-shirt that I was going to wear for the race on the Sunday.

Of course we went to Bird & Blend- their strawberry lemonade iced tea is perfect on a warm day.

After a bit of a rest in the afternoon we went out for an evening walk (and came across a bakery piled high with vegan cinnamon buns, so of course had to buy one), and then we got a takeaway pizza from Purezza (100% vegan pizzeria and very delicious).

The race started at 9am, and they were asking people to turn up close to the start time (because of covid) which suited me fine. I was on time and then realised I’d forgotten my sunglasses (they are more comfy to run in than my normal glasses, and on the Saturday the glare from the sea made my eyes quite sore), so Andy kindly ran back to the hotel for me. This slight panic was not ideal but I was still in the pen 10 minutes before the start time (right behind Joe Wilkinson it turned out, although as soon as we started running he was off). It was a lot more spread out than usual, and I think I’d read that the capacity was about half the usual capacity to allow for more distancing. It was prompt to begin, and soon my wave were off. They did announce that everyone in my wave (2-2.15) was aiming to keep up with the 2 hour pacer, but I was definitely not one of those this year! My aim was to enjoy it, which I did.

There is always good crowd support in Brighton, but there were less people out on the course. There was one band (near to Hove) which moved from the road to the lawns so I heard them twice. I only saw the 4, 9, 10 and 11 mile markers, but I imagine that they were at every mile, and I didn’t look at my watch as I wanted to run on how I felt.  It was the traditional route of going east to Roedean, back to the centre, a loop of the centre (which I am sure is now bigger as you go further beyond the pavillion) and then west to Hove, before turning and coming back along the seafront. I decided I would try to keep the 2.15 pacer behind me, and managed to finish in 2:08:something so I was pleased with that.

The 9am start meant I had enough time to head back to the hotel for a shower before the midday checkout, and then we were off to get lunch from Leon. We actually sat inside – we chose a table right by the doors and not near any other tables, and it felt OK.

On our walk back to the car I got a pumpkin spiced latte from Bird &  Blend, and then we also passed a vegan doughnut shop so bought a couple to share once home (my first half with tea and Taskmaster- good recovery).

All in all so good to have a more normal feeling weekend.

Happy 17th birthday parkrun!

At least this year we are actually celebrating at parkrun!

But before that, the week was fairly standard after the busy weekend. Bake Off and cosy evenings with my autumn leaves fairy lights and scented candles. Early runs pretty much all in the dark. Yoga in the living room and yoga nidra under a blanket on the sofa.

I was feeling pretty pleased with our decision to get an electric car when everyone started going mad at the petrol pumps- plugging it in at home is just so easy. I hated going to petrol stations anyway (and only had a few I’d go to) plus as the ones I liked were not that near it would always add miles to my commute.

Morning run skies, online course essentials and plugging in the car at home

On Friday my wellbeing buddy at work got me one of these amazing Rhythm 108 chocolate bars- they are honestly just the best. I went after work to have a shoulder and back massage- the person I see has set up her own treatment room next to her house and it’s way easier (as before I had to park in town, now I can just park outside and it’s more on my way home). I did get a bit of a telling off about how bad my shoulders are- I’ve been trying to do shoulder rolls/ arm circles whenever I remember to try and stop it getting worse.

Haircut and parkrun

Saturday was of course parkrun’s 17th birthday! I really like these celebrations as it gives you a chance to think back about all the past events that have been enjoyed. I am so glad that my dad persuaded me to go to my first parkrun (in St Albans, in the pouring rain) as I really thought “well, I can just run a 5k from home and be back much earlier”. Little did I realise how much I would love it and how much of my life it would become. I know that if it wasn’t for parkrun, I wouldn’t see my parents as much, despite them living so close, because when you are busy it just gets harder to fit things in. The fact that we have this constant every week has meant that we see each other for that. I love that he is keen to do parkrun tourism and that we travel about a bit together too, and my mum is involved in the milestones (making us cakes) and of course breakfast once we have finished running.

Dad and I went to Jersey Farm and enjoyed it as usual, although I couldn’t hang about too long as I was off to get my hair cut. I was quite pleased to see that they required masks, and in fact someone turned up without one and so they were given one to wear during their appointment. It poured with rain so I got soaked on my walk back to the car!

Pancakes following my long run- and lots of autumn scenes on my run including a field of mini mushrooms

Sunday runday was time for a final long run before Brighton half- I decided to run into town and then do some loops (of the Festive 5 route) and then head home, to total 11 miles. That gave me confidence that I would be OK running the distance the following weekend.

We had ordered some buns from Random Buns of Kindness, and so enjoyed them over the weekend. There was a pumpkin spiced one (a spicy souped up cinnamon bun), almond cream (amazing almond croissant type bun), chocolate peanut butter (need I say more?) and a pistachio caramel one. All totally amazing, all vegan, and perfect with a cup of tea.

Did you celebrate parkrun’s birthday? What got you to go to your first parkrun?

Did you have trouble getting petrol the other week?

I can’t cope with a busy weekend!

And this felt super busy! On Friday Andy and I went to the Alban Arena to see Prof Brian Cox do a talk on space. It was so interesting, with a bit of comedy thrown in every now and then (Robin Ince who does the IMC podcast kept coming onto the stage too). I was again a bit apprehensive about going as they were not checking vaccine status, and although you had to wear a mask when walking about, you didn’t have to at your seat. Anyway, I kept mine on, and it was OK. In the interval you could go outside and get some fresh air, and having that break helped. I do know that I have to have some sort of trust in the vaccine- yes I know it does not mean I won’t catch it, but it is less likely, and if I do catch it, the illness should be less severe. But still, I am cautious anyway and these past two years have not helped that at all.

Back to the busy weekend! On Saturday I wanted to do a long run (as I would not fit it in on Sunday), so I ran around near home for a bit, met Dad in a car park and then we ran/walked to Panshanger to do their new course. We’d not been there since the restart, although I have run it on several occasions as it’s so close to home.

We both loved the new route, although I do think part of it will be very slippery once it has rained for a bit as it’s a long steep downhill. We met a few club members too, including Donna (my OH run leader) and again it was so nice to chat to people at the start and end. I’ll be back tail-walking in a couple of weeks so I thought it would be good to have done the new route before volunteering just to check I 100% know the course.

Breakfast/ Taskmaster/ autumn running scenes and painted nails

Once home I’d run/walked 9 miles, so that was OK by me. I didn’t have long at home to sort bits out (plus boring jobs like cleaning) as we were off to London. Ash are one of our favourite bands, and we were meant to see them in March 2020. Since then the gig has been rescheduled so many times (I think it went June 2020, September 2020, Feb 2021, possibly another date, and then finally September 2021). They were at the Roundhouse in Camden, a very cool venue (it used to be a turn table for the trains), so we drove to High Barnet and got the tube in. I could not remember the last time I went on the tube. The last time I went to London was at the start of March 2020 when we saw Reasons To Be Cheerful, but that was right by Kings Cross so we got the overground in. Anyway, it wasn’t too busy and most people had masks (even though it’s a TFL requirement so you would think that everyone would have one on).

We walked around London, popped to Leon to get some dinner, and then walked to the vegan Crosstown. Sadly they had run out of doughnuts- what? So I got a consolation cookie. It was good but I was looking forward to trying a new doughnut. We waited outside the venue for a bit, watching the Stormtroopers (Ash are big Star Wars fans and seemed to have some as security guards!) before I plucked up the courage to go inside. We found a space near the sound desk, I kept my mask on and felt fine. I think people saw me with the mask on and gave me a bit more space which was nice. Before they started playing they had a DJ who totally knew his audience (eg playing songs from late 90’s ad early 2000’s) and then once Ash came out and started playing it was just brilliant. I love live music and I was so happy to be there, singing along and enjoying the music. They even had a special guest in their encore; Charlotte, who was a member of the band for a bit. By the time I got home I’d walked over 42,000 steps- not bad!

Then there was no rest as on Sunday I was getting the train down to Haywards Heath to visit and friend and her new baby. Another friend got on the same train as me at an earlier stop, so we had a fab journey catching up, and then spent ages at our friends’ house. It was so lovely, but by the time I got home I felt like I needed another weekend to recover from the busy weekend!

Are you still wearing masks at all? I don’t tend to go inside many places (eg I might do a click and collect order but I’m not browsing and not eating out anywhere).

When is the last time you went into London or a busy city?

parkrun was nearly like old times

After being out late the night before at Taskmaster, both my dad and I were glad that Jersey Farm parkrun was back on, so we could have a relatively late start to the morning- it’s only a 10 minute walk from their house so I don’t even need to leave home until 8.15am- a lie in compared to tourist trips!

The weather was so warm for mid-September. The wildflowers had been mown down and the long grass put into hay bales, but the mixture of trees and open fields are always pretty. We bumped into loads of OH ladies and people from Ellenbrook Fields- it felt like such a nice social event. Some had run from Hatfield to make the parkrun sandwich their final long run before the London marathon, and so once we finished we waited around to cheer on some of the other runners. I also met one of our runners in the flesh after we have regularly commented on our running posts within the group! It was strange to see someone in person who you think you know (a bit like meeting someone from a blog/ instagram in real life too), but so lovely to finally meet properly. In the end we had to head off as Dad was going to football so we could not hang around for too long but we could have easily chatted for ages.  It did make me miss EF even more as so often you’d bump into people you had not seen for a while, and end up chatting  and helping to pack away the gazebo/ funnel because you had chatted for so long. I have said it before, but really what am I going to do for my 250th? I don’t really want to be at JF because one of the reasons EF has not re-started is linked to someone linked to JF.

On Sunday morning I went for an OH run- again running to meet them and then we ran down to the lakes and back up. We met more OH ladies (on a virtual 10k race) while we were out too. It felt like a social running weekend, something that I’ve not felt for a while.

A huge mushroom that I saw on my run, sedum in the garden and a hazy sky

Vegan mars bar type thing from my vegan box went well with a cup of tea.

I did a lot of pottering in the garden and even did a spot of baking- a pumpkin spice loaf from A Virtual Vegan (I love her website- she was from the UK but moved to Canada, so I love that the recipes are in grams and not cups because it’s way more specific. Plus every recipe I have tried has been brilliant).

I was not looking forward to Monday as I had booked my flu jab for after work. I know it’s important, and particularly working in a school I am exposed to lots of germs, but I do not like injections (I sometimes faint) and so I have to work up to it. Having already had my 2 covid jabs this year I felt that the memory of the sore arm was a bit too recent and not yet forgotten.

It was OK in the end, and while I was sitting in the chair after (you have to wait for 10 mins to check you are OK) I saw Andy outside- he’d come to meet me with a Starbucks and also a vegan Belgium bun from a bakery that had just opened in town (he’d had his jab the same day but at a different pharmacy). A bit of sugar always helps in the flu jab recovery process! It also helped as I’d rushed away from work quickly and ended up needing to do a few hours in the evening to catch up.

Gorgeous sunrises on my runs

I felt OK after, so I went for my usual morning runs that week (Tues, Wed, Thurs) but took them slowly and kept them to a 5k in distance. I saw some beautiful sunrises, but as we were reaching the autumn equinox I know that soon it will be dark the entire time, so I’ll make the most of the views while I still can. I was feeling tired but I think it was more due to the fact that work was busy and I was working most evenings for several hours (one day we didn’t eat dinner until 9pm because I wanted to get it done before we ate).

Yoga living room set up, another sunrise and Bake Off returns!

Our yoga was focused on the autumn equinox as well and I really enjoyed having that additional focus to the session. I have still been setting up in the living room instead of my office, which gives me a bit more space, but the mat does slip on the rug a bit. It means I can lay on the sofa under a blanket for the nidra session after, which is a bit like guided meditation.

I did manage to find time to watch Bake Off (although I can never fit it all in on a Tuesday so I have to hope that I don’t see any spoilers before I’ve finished it), and of course I was excited for the new Taskmaster (although this series isn’t the one we saw being filmed).

What should I do for my 250th run? Tour somewhere? Or go to Panshanger?

Pumpkin spice season is here!

And by that I mean pumpkin spiced tea, baked goods and just general autumn vibes. Not actual coffee! Of course included in that is my tea club (for September- I’m suddenly a long way behind with posts).

Pumpkin spice sticker on the tea delivery, and yoga set up in the living room

Talking of tea club, my advent calendar also arrived from Bird&Blend- I did ask in the order notes whether I could start in November as this year each box contains 2 teabags, but they said no… (and that Santa would be watching).

I’ve been to a few Sunday club runs on Sundays- this was the one following our parkrun trip to Rushmere.

I ran to the station (around 3 miles), met the others, then we had a lovely loop to some woods and fields that I’d not been to before (Welham Green) before I came home. The total was 12 miles and I was quite pleased as my long runs had tailed off a bit over the summer, and with the Brighton half coming up I needed to get a bit more confidence over those longer distances. Once home it was time for vegan croissants (the bake at home Pret ones are so good, plus an Aldi one).

We needed to collect a click and collect from town, and so popped into Starbucks to get a (coffee free) iced pumpkin spice. The colour is always so alarming, but it does taste of autumn (in the best way).

Morning runs are getting darker- a few pretty sunrises, watch showing zero miles on Thursday morning, and my vegan box.

On the Monday of that week I sat very awkwardly doing some work, and my back was super sore. I managed a couple of walks (and some yoga) but didn’t run until the Thursday morning. Thankfully all was fine by then. That’s the downside of the Garmin showing the total miles for the week- not a good reminder if you’ve not run at all.

On Friday I did an early run too. I don’t usually run on a Friday, but partly I wanted to as I hadn’t all week, but also I was going to a TV show recording (Taskmaster)  straight from work, so I wanted to get in some movement. I packed sandwiches to eat after, but the recording didn’t finish until nearly 10pm so it was a very late dinner! I was a bit apprehensive about being inside, but the studio was like a big hanger, and there were only 2 rows of seats (with about 10 in each row) where we were sat, and we kept our masks on (they gave out black ones so that if we were filmed it all looked the same). It was brilliant- my mum had been to see Pointless a few years back (as they were desperate for an audience) and they’d been given priority tickets because of that.

What do you like about autumn?