Midsummer 5 mile series round 2

On the last day of term (hooray!) I had booked on to the second of the new 5 mile series. This one was held at Panshanger park, home to my favourite parkrun, and now just around the corner.  We had gone out to lunch and I had ended up with the fruit toast, as the only savoury veggie option was a spicy bean and avocado wrap (which I have had before, but didn’t fancy something too spicy before running).

The race started at 7.30, and you had to collect your number, so I planned to get there at around 7pm. The start was in a completely different place to where the parkrun starts, and all the cars were being directed along very bumpy roads to a field in the middle of the parkrun course. On the way there I was hoping to find a way to run to parkrun, as the way I normally drive is dual carriageways with no pavements. I got to within a mile or so, all with pavements, but the last mile and a bit was along a national speed limit road, which was very twisty and had no pavement, so not an option.

I collected my number, chatted to the other OH ladies who were running it, and then we listened to the run briefing. I kind of wished that I had not listened as it made it sound very hard- starting in the middle of the valley I thought we would be running along the lower section, but in fact it ended up going uphill to one side of the valley, along the top, back down to the middle, up the other side of the valley, down, along the valley, up the hill where parkrun finishes, and then along the valley to the finish. Lots of ups and downs!

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I knew by then that I would not be beating my 5 mile time from the previous midsummer series race! We started off up a hill, which was tough but OK as it meant you  would not start off too fast. The park really is beautiful, and we were lucky with the weather as it was a little cloudy and not too hot. We had a short steep climb at the end of the first mile, and then we were rewarded with some lovely cool shade and the beautiful old oak tree. My first mile was 10.43. We then had a steep downhill followed by a lovely long gentle downhill through open fields. Here I was overtaken by some speedy children doing the kids races (they were started just after the main race). Just before the 2 mile point we ran past the start/finish area, and I could see some of the front runners heading down a very steep path (starting their 4th mile already)- this made my heart sink as I knew we would be going up a long way in order to go back down. Groan! My second mile was 9.11- much quicker (thanks downhill section!).

We then went into a section of the park that is usually closed to the public. The park keeps on opening up more sections (the oak tree was opened after the parkrun started)- there are old and working quarries still in the park, so we ran past a lot of “No Entry” and “Danger” signs. It was great to see the scenery, and although it sent steadily up, it didn’t seem too bad and I felt like I was keeping a strong pace. Then we turned a corner and were told by a marshal “it’s the last hill”- and boy was it a tough one! It was so steep that I walked up it (as did most of the other runners)- no point wasting energy as my walking speed was the same as my running speed.

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Just after that my watch beeped for 3 miles (my third mile was 10.44, so only just slower than my first mile which wasn’t too bad seeing as I walked for a bit). At this point I noticed one of my friends up ahead so I tried to catch up with her and we briefly chatted. We then came to the very steep downhill section- I tried to run in the middle of the track as the grass helped with the grip, whereas the rest of it was very loose shingle and felt very unsteady.

After the steep downhill section we passed near to the start/finish area again, before running along the valley- the same path as the final 2K of the parkrun course. I tried to pick up the pace here a bit as I knew most of that was flat, and managed a 9.43 mile here. We then got to do the parkrun finish hill, although thankfully they chose the altered course (instead of going straight up the steep path, it zig zags across the field. The marshal there was telling the truth as he said it was the final hill!

The final mile dropped gently down through a field, to finally run alongside the river. Near the end I saw my run leader and her boyfriend, and they gave me a big cheer and told me to “sprint!”- I tried to follow instructions although because of the long grass I was having to check my footing carefully. My final mile was 9.22, and as I came up to the finish the RD read out my name (and said I was first OH lady, which I knew I wasn’t) and I attempted a bit of a fist punch.


After getting my timer chip cut from my shoe, and being given my medal, I collected a water and a banana from the table (they also had various chocolate bars but I didn’t fancy any of those) and headed to get my print out. My chip time was 49.43, so I was very pleased to get in under 50 on a pretty hilly course.

Some of our OH ladies had finished their 100 miles that night (it was the 21st!) so they had to have some pictures to commemorate. Very impressive!

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The medal is really nice- it has both races on it (they said that if you did the first and not the second, they would send a medal out to you) as well as the date.

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Then it was time to head back to my car, and head home to officially begin the summer holiday!

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I really hope that they put these races on again next year. I love the 5 mile distance, and running in places like these is so much nicer than a road race- such lovely scenery. Plus they were so low key- park right by the start, pick up your number and run- no huge crowds or wave starts.

What type of race do you prefer? Which sort of distance is your favourite? Do you prefer undulating or flat courses? I think sometimes undulating is almost easier because you can get some speed up on the downhills, plus flat running can get monotonous.

My purple t-shirt arrived! (And the end of July)

I was very excited when I got home on Tuesday and saw a parcel from Wiggle- it could only mean one thing!

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Or perhaps 3 things.

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My purple volunteer t-shirt! In case you are not a parkrun obsessive (as my dad, who runs parkruns with me, didn’t know about it until I showed him)- once you have volunteered on 25 separate occasions, you become a member of the 25 club, and can claim your (very high quality technical) free purple Tribesports t-shirt. Wiggle distribute them (so you have a link on your profile, and when there are some in stock, it allows you to click through to the Wiggle site and add it to your basket)- they will either charge £1.99 for postage, or if you spend over a certain amount (I think £20) the delivery is free. I had a little browse and added some socks, and also some SIS electrolyte tabs as I need to find a nuun replacement as no-where seems to stock it any more. Those things didn’t add up, and then I came across these fab capris! They are Asics (in the sale of course)- I normally like Nike ones but these ones had a nice wide waistband, a big zipped pocket, and I liked the colours. They are very comfy too- I shall be looking at Asics again when I next need/want new capris.

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I tried to take a picture, and I have since worked out how to turn off the flash, but not at that point! It shows how bad the walls were in my office too after we stripped the wallpaper- many shades of paint, blobs of plaster and no idea what all the white bits were.

After completing the 100 miles on Tuesday, I was really stiff on Wednesday- I had to get some paint from B&Q and I ended up leaning on the trolley as I pushed it around as I was having real trouble. Once I got home I iced my back for a long time and that really helped, and then I had a very slow walk around the two mile loop, which helped a bit more.

On Thursday my parents were coming over to help paint the ceilings in the bedroom and my office – they came armed with poles, rollers, a tool box, dust sheets… It was a good team effort and we powered through until mid-afternoon, giving the walls in my office a bit of white paint, as we were worried that the walls were so bumpy we would need to put up lining paper before painting.

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Behind you can see the yellow/brown wall, and then the white coat going over the tester pots and the rest of the wall.

I shall save the decorating posts for another day, but they left around 2pm so I headed out for a run then, for a nice 4.5 mile loop. I got home just in time to have a quick shower as we were going to see the new Jason Bourne film at our local cinema- we power walked there and just made it in time!

On Friday my dad had said he would come over and help with some more decorating- we did a bit of painting and then a lot of sanding down the walls, cleaning with sugar soap, and then painting the walls white to give them a base coat. We didn’t stop until around 4pm, so I had a snack and then headed out just after 5. This was not such an enjoyable run as I think I was a bit thirsty, probably still hungry, and had eaten too close to the run. But I wasn’t going to parkrun on Saturday so did 3 miles there instead.

Saturday was a rest day, as much as walking around London all day is resting, and then on Sunday we had a track session. Our club are trying to do one a month (followed by brunch), and now we have moved I can run there- it’s just under 2 miles away.

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We did some warm ups and balance exercises, and then some drills including running through these ladders- we have them at school but normally it’s the kids that use them! We then did some intervals- 100m then rest x4, 200m then rest, x3, 300m, then rest, x2, and then a final 400m (trying to do a negative split, but it was hot!).

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There were even a few photos with both feet off the ground! Very exciting! I could not go to brunch as my auntie and uncle were coming over for a look around our house, so after it finished I ran the mile or so into town, and picked up a cold drink and breakfast in Starbucks, and then briskly walked home- all in all 5 miles run and one mile walked- not bad for a Sunday morning.

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A cinnamon roll! Good compensation for missing out in brunch.

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My auntie brought over these lovely sunflowers, so they have been brightening up our living room. After a little tour of our home and a catch up, they were off and we had to be heading back into London again.

Anyway, that run meant that my final total for July was 116 miles! That is my second highest mileage ever, beaten only by my final month of marathon training last year! Not too shabby! My medal has been dispatched so I can enjoy it soon!

If you volunteer at parkrun, which role is your favourite? I think the only role I didn’t like as much was token sorting, mainly because it was a freezing cold day and I ran first, and so needed a few more layers than I had with me. I love cheering people on as a marshal, and I like token scanning as you get to see all of the runners come in. But things like tail running or new runners briefings are good “two for one” roles as you get to run at the same time.

Are you a decorating fan? I don’t mind the actual painting, but all of the moving furniture and preparing seems to take a lot longer, and it’s a while before you can see any difference.

Savse smoothies

I was recently sent some smoothies to sample, from Savse.

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I had to find room in my fridge for them all!

Savse smoothies are cold pressed, raw, and many contain vegetables as well as fruits.

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I have often been having one after a run in this heat.

The new purple carrot was my favourite- it contains purple carrot, apple, blackcurrant, pomegranate and blueberry. It was really zingy and refreshing, and perfect after a long run in the heat, as I don’t usually feel like eating right away. From their press: Purple carrots, with a great depth of flavour and up to 28 times more antioxidants than their orange cousins, had long been enjoyed by our forebears before they fell out of fashion. Returning to its roots and championing the very best quality natural ingredients, Savse is proud to be celebrating these heritage carrots in ‘Purple Carrot’ the latest addition to their range.

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After my 5 mile evening race I had the Protein Punch one, with coconut, pineapple, lime, vanilla, maca and whey protein (suitable for vegetarians). I don’t always like protein powder in things but this only had a small amount and was really refreshing and tropical tasting. I thought it might have a thick texture, but it was still more like a juice which I liked. It seemed a good choice as I had not eaten for a long time, and was going to have a shower before having some food.

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The super orange (with mango, celery, apple, lemon, orange, passion-fruit and carrot) was tasty, and although it did smell faintly of celery, it tasted very fruity.

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I was a bit hesitant about trying the super blue (containing blueberry, kale, beetroot, spinach, blackcurrant, apple, strawberry and orange) as although I love beetroot, the idea of drinking it does not appeal (either in juice or soup). It did have an earthy smell, but again it was really refreshing.

Although I don’t often have smoothies or juice, I really liked having one after a long run. I prefer to run before breakfast, and when I get home I like to have a shower and get dressed before making breakfast, so it can be a good 45 minutes (or longer if I do proper stretches) before getting any energy back inside (and I think this can lead to a headache later in the day). Having a smoothie fairly soon after I get home has been a good way to refuel without eating food (as the stomach can feel a bit dodgy just after you stop running), and touch wood I have not had a headache after a run. As they are now widely stocked in the UK (Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Asda to name a few) I may well look at buying one for after my longer weekend runs.

Are you a smoothie fan? Are there any vegetables that you would not like to have in a drink?

*I was sent the smoothies for free, but was under no obligation to post about them. All opinions are my own.