A late night, a parkrun, and writing the run report

On Friday night it was time for the OH awards evening. Thankfully my windscreen was finally replaced on Friday, so there was some good news. The cream was cleaning up my eye, and although I still had a little cough, I wasn’t losing my voice any more- I had wondered about just staying at home, but I am glad I persuaded myself to go in the end.

It was being held at a local golf club, just around the corner from where I live (well a couple of miles away, and partly down a lane with no pavements, so I wasn’t running there).

Last year it was a sit down meal, but this year was a buffet and then a disco. It was lovely catching up with everyone, and seeing people with normal clothes (and hair) instead of running gear. I had a very delicious chocolate tart, and everyone had personalised glass tags with our initials on them (and OH on the back)- such a lovely touch.

Mine even had a non-alcoholic drink ready with it (as it included a drink upon arrival- they are very sweet to remember that I don’t drink).

After a few hours of chatting (and some people dancing) they gave out the awards- it was lovely to see the reaction from the winners, especially those not expecting to win. The runner of the year wasn’t there, so they said to keep it quiet and they would give it to her at parkrun as she was volunteering in the morning.

As it rained a bit overnight, I wore my trail shoes as I was heading to Ellenbrook- clean soles at the start!

Dad was going to run there, run parkrun, and then I was going to take him home, as he is doing some longer runs before a half marathon in the spring. I got there a bit early and it was cold, so I ran up and down the old taxi-way a bit (a straight concrete strip in the field). I saw a green woodpecker (but I had left my phone in the car so couldn’t even try to photograph it), and then was stopped by someone walking her dog, asking where she could go to avoid the runners. Now, I am not great with directions, and of course the par has no road names, so after I try to explain it to her (do you know the field with the cows? Well instead of turning left and going through the field, carry on straight…) I ended up saying that there were signs out, so if the sign said turn left, she could carry on straight instead. (I also did say that we didn’t have that many runners and they would be spread out, but she said her dog got a bit excited and would bark a lot so she wanted to steer clear).

As she walked away I then saw my dad running towards me, and shortly after my brother cycled along, so we headed to the start line together.

I’d opted for a t-shirt, and left my jacket on the fence, but the wind and drizzle picked up a bit during the briefing and I had begun to regret my choice of clothes. Once we started I was OK though.  We had a good catch up, and finished together (along the trial straight ahead instead of a right-angled turn on slippery mud) in 29.49- we were aiming for under 30 minutes so Dad’s 10K came in under the hour so we were pleased with that. It started to rain a lot harder and the wind picked up so we didn’t hang about for long before heading to the car.

Very dirty soles at the end, although this was taken on Sunday.

I had offered to do the run report as our RD is not keen on that job, so I spent a bit of time coming up with that- it’s here if you fancy a read and a sing along. We also walked into town, and then spent the evening around Andy’s brother’s house, watching the football and eating takeaway chips (a nice treat, but maybe not the best pre long run meal..).

Does your running club have awards? We have awards for perseverance, most improved, best newcomer, and runner of the year, as well as the fastest times, although they always precede the fastest times awards with a lot of conflicted views on whether they should be awarded or not!  Do you see a lot of non-parkrunners at your local parkrun?  Both Panshanger and Ellenbrook are a bit out of the way, and are used by dog walkers but that’s about it. St Albans is full of people out walking, kids on bikes and people feeding the ducks so it is a bit busier in that respect.

What a week

Well, the week started off well as we went to see La La Land after work on Monday, and then went to Bill’s for dinner (mainly because I had won a free pudding in their January competition). The film was good, although it wasn’t the 100% musical that the opening number suggested (but I don’t mind that). Although I was rather confused at the start because I thought (from hearing about it) it was set in the 30’s, and so the opening scene with people dancing around their cars on the freeway confused me a bit- I kept thinking “when is it going to jump back in time?”…

On Tuesday I headed out for a run with the OH ladies- it was very cold and by the end the pavements were getting slippery with frost, so we all slowed down. There was also the most awful smell- like manure being spread, but I have no idea where. I was coughing a bit by the end- probably from the cold air.

On Wednesday I woke up with a very dry throat- it didn’t hurt, but I was losing my voice a bit. Yoga on Wednesday evening was good, but afterwards my eyes were very sore- I thought at first I’d got shower gel in my eye or something like that. When I woke up on Thursday one eye was full of gunk- thanks conjunctivitis.  Thursday was the day that the windscreen was due to be replaced on my car- they had ordered the new glass last week and I could potentially have had the appointment on Monday, but Andy couldn’t be home and I couldn’t sort anything out. My dad had agreed to come over on Thursday morning and wait in for the Autoglass people, as again Andy couldn’t be home. The slot was 8-1, and at about ten to nine I had just popped into my cupboard and heard my phone buzzing-  it was Autoglass calling to say they had to cancel the appointment because the glass was not in the warehouse. Argh! I then had to frantically text Dad so he didn’t waste any more of his morning.

On a Thursday lunchtime we usually have a team meeting, so luckily someone else agreed to run it while I could pop out to the pharmacy to get some eye drops, although when I got there they had run out of eye  drops and so I got the ointment instead (and as someone who hates touching their eyes, putting this in is much more of a challenge than eye drops!). I then had to phone up Autoglass who initially told me it would be in stock next week, which was not good seeing as I had a voicemail from last week saying it was in stock … in the end they somehow managed to find some and said they would come on Friday, and luckily Andy could work from home so it would get sorted. As the day wore on my voice got more and more croaky, and I didn’t feel that great, including having some big coughing fits in the car on the way home, so once home I decided that a walk was a sensible option.

I woke myself up in the night scratching my eye (which was horrible) and on Friday I kept on losing my voice at work (not ideal when you need your class to hear you) but on the upside the windscreen was replaced. We have our running club awards evening tonight, so I shall be going, but I am sure I won’t be staying until the end- going out on a Friday night is hard work!

Right, moan over! I am doing the run report again for parkrun tomorrow, so I need to get my thinking hat on!

A gorgeous frosty morning

I was so very happy when I checked the weather on Friday- the 10 day forecast was basically the same every day- sunny and frosty, highs of around 5, and lows of -3. I love these days, there have been some amazing sunrises on my way to work, and everywhere just looks so pretty when it is covered in sparkling frost.

On Sunday morning this was the view from our window, so it made me look forward to my run even more. I took ages to get ready because working out what to wear is so hard- too many layers = not good, but on a longer and slower run I feel like I am more likely to get cold. In the end I went for tights, long sleeved top, jacket, buff, ear warmers and gloves.  I hadn’t planned a route, but had vague ideas of going along the old railway line and then trying to work out how to get out to Panshanger (where the parkrun is)- I had seen on Strava that it could be done but I could not quite work it out.

I kept on stopping as there were so many pretty views.

I saw hardly anyone out though- for the last few weeks I saw a fair few runners and lots of cyclists. There were a few races going on locally (the Fred Hughes 10 in St Albans, and the Essendon 10k and 5k nearby) so I wonder if lots of the local runners were there.

I had to stop a few times to check maps on my phone too, so it was a very stop-start run, but that is fine with me.

At first I went along the old railway line, and then I ended up running along country roads (which luckily turned out to have pavements).

I was very pleased when I came out of a village and could see Panshanger park along the road from where I was- made it!

I ran along the parkrun route for a bit, of course stopping for more photos. I saw a lot of people walking their dogs in the park, and a couple of very cheery runners- I love it when people say “morning” back.

The ground was so icy in places- puddles were very much frozen solid.

I had worn my new white jacket again, and I was very glad of it- it kept me warm but not too hot- there are lots of vents. Although when I stopped running I really heated up. I kept my gloves on until about half a mile from home too- it really was so cold. After doing an out and back mile (two miles? One out and one back anyway) in the park, I retraced my steps and didn’t get lost once! Awesome! I think this one is about 4 miles from home, so marginally closer than the 5 miles to Ellenbrook- it’s even closer as the crow flies but of course I can’t run there in a straight line. As I left the park I think my watch said just over 7 miles, and in total I ran just over 11, so it would be a great option if I needed to do my long run on a Saturday and still wanted to do parkrun.

While I was stopping my watch and podcast outside, I scraped the ice off my car to survey the giant crack- it doesn’t seem so bad from the outside but from the inside it is pretty huge and very distracting. I then headed inside for a warm shower- I stayed in so long that the hot water ran out!

We had some bits left over from the breakfast with my parents, so I had a bit of a random breakfast- some fruit smoothie, tea (of course), some cooked blueberries (I needed warm food) and a croissant that I spread with peanut butter and then added a few chocolate chips to, before heating it in the microwave.

I then had a bit of a pottering day- a bit of work, a bit of housework (washing and sorting), some baking (the banana bread from the Pip and Nut book)- I even cleaned my trainers!

OK  I should perhaps have taken a “before” photo, but the pink ones especially were basically caked in mud, and the trail ones on the bottom right were brown and not blue.

How was your weekend? Are you enjoying this wintery weather? Do you have a lot of friendly runners/cyclists near you?

Local parkrun tourism and baking book decisions

After the parkrun celebration evening on Tuesday, the week has been fairly normal- I went to yoga on Wednesday and had another attempt at the wheel (or crab as someone else called it)- annoyingly my hair kept getting in the way when I was trying to put my head on the floor, and I don’t feel quite strong enough in my arms, but I got most of the way there. I am still really loving it- the class is challenging and I feel aches the next day, but there is a lot of relaxation during it too, and this week when we were covered in a soft blanket and given a drop of geranium oil during the final relaxation, it was just bliss.

On Thursday after work I did a 4 mile run- I was feeling fairly tired (a lot of people have been off ill at work which means the days are busier than usual) and didn’t want to be out too late. I did the route in reverse and I think I prefer it that way.

I have been totally rocking my leg warmers because my thermal tights are not quite ankle length (not sure why). I also finally tried out the “new” trainers that I may even have bought before we moved house- or maybe July. Anyway, a long time ago. They seemed pretty comfy luckily!

We have been trying some new dinners recently- a few weeks ago we tried this warm cauliflower and pomegranate salad (although I have since seen some similar versions where the caluiflower is roasted, and that may be better for winter),   and on Thursday we had this delicious courgette, tomato and mozzerella bake (it was from the Waitrose magazine too, but I can’t find it on their website just yet)- the strips of courgette were griddled first, you made a sauce with onions, garlic and tomatoes, and then layered it in a dish along with the courgettes, cheese and breadcrumbs- it was so tasty and warming on a chilly evening.

On Saturday Dad picked me up, and along with my brother and mum, we headed off to Stevenage parkrun. It started back in May, and it is only up the road from where I live (a 20 minute drive up the A1M) but we have just not managed to get around to visiting it. Seeing the very frosty start meant I spent a lot of the morning checking the list of parkruns that are cancelled, and the Stevenage parkrun facebook page, but nothing appeared.

When we arrived at the car park, we sat in the car for a bit as it was so cold. Once we got out (at 8.50am) we realised that we had parked in the second car park (there are two listed on the course page) which apparently was a 10 minute walk from the start- oops. We then walked fairly quickly, but runners were still parking and walking behind us. We knew we should go to the new runners briefing, but we knew it was a two lap course and nothing complicated (and we will always be following someone in front). We could see a big crowd of people in the distance so guessed that was the start line, and it only looked to be 5 minutes away. I happened to say “I wonder how many runners they get” and a guy walking past started chatting, saying they got over 200 fairly regularly. He then headed off into a tiny car park, and we followed him (luckily as the route we were heading along turned out to end at a little boat marina thing).

Normally you would see the finish funnel and a lot of high viz jackets,and we were looking for the RD in the white and blue tabbard, but we couldn’t see anyone. My mum has never been to one before so we were saying it may have given her a bit of a strange impression as it didn’t seem as organised as normal. My guess was that their storage locker had frozen shut (I don’t know if they have one, but we do at Ellenbrook and I could imagine it happening- our shed lock froze at school this week). At 9am a guy ran past shouting “new runners, follow me”, so we did, along with maybe around 30 people. He gave the briefing and explained that they didn’t have access to something right then, so there were no signs on the course, and no finish funnel at that moment. The paths were icy in places, and he said there would be marshals warning of particularly slippery places.

Then the RD gave the main briefing (apologising for his lack of megaphone- that was obviously with the other bits that they couldn’t get to), and again warning of ice- “don’t sacrifice your health for a pb” was a good piece of advice.

We started off fairly slowly (well, my dad and I- my brother usually sets off quicker) and we had a nice chatty run. I really enjoyed the route and I wasn’t expecting to. I didn’t know the park at all, and of course the frosty morning helped to make it more beautiful. It was pretty flat, going around the lake and then through a wooded area. It was so cold though- my toes warmed up on the second lap.  I totally lost my bearings and I happened to glance at my watch at 145 miles, and commented to Dad “we’re half way” and then he pointed out he could see the start area from where we were! We waved at mum on our way past and told her we were half way.

None of the marshals had high viz jackets so we just thanked anyone who was stood about- I am sure at least one of them just happened to be in the park, but you know, we are a friendly bunch! On the second lap, some of them did, and by the time we got to the finish it was all set up, so it seemed their problem was sorted.

The finish was up a short incline, and as we were coming towards it we overtook someone and so were just behind my brother, so we decided to try and catch him and finish 1,2,3 but then he overtook a guy ahead of him and I told Dad to push up the hill to try and catch him, but he didn’t manage it, so he ended up stopping a bit short of the finish line and let me cross it first.

We had a good negative split of 10.23, 9.14 and 8.50, and both of us had the same time of 29.04, with my brother being just ahead at 28.48.

Mum had found someone to chat to (the wife of the person who started Stevenage parkrun) who had pointed out that the finish was not quite in the same place, and as we were having our chips scanned she walked over to us. We had the obligatory photo of course, before heading back to the car.

Then we headed back home, where we had hot drinks and warm croissants- such a lovely start to the weekend. It was so nice to share parkrun with mum too- she is always happy to make us breakfast after, but it was good for her to see how it all works and why we all love it so much.

(That was my 93rd parkrun, my 15th course, and 14th UK course)- on a side note Stevenage was very male- dominated- I was in position 112, but was only the 14th female- not sure if that is a big jump but it seems it- normally it seems to me that there is about a 1:2 ratio, but that’s more like 1:10.

I’ve bought two new baking books this week- I finally bought the Puddings cookbook by the people who run The Pudding Stop in St Albans (mainly for their amazing peanut butter and salted caramel brownie recipe), and then this nut butter cook book.

I love the Pip and Nut butters- proper drippy peanut butter, and delicious varieties like crunchy maple peanut butter, and when I saw this on Amazon and “looked inside” it was right up my street. For one, there is a section on toast, and if Andy didn’t do our cooking I would probably end up living off toast (I do like other things, but I get carried away with work in the evenings, and then it gets late, and I am hungry and can’t be bothered to cook), and it also had so many other amazing sounding recipes including almond butter banana bread, and a wonderful looking baked brioche French toast. I don’t know where to begin!

At the end of last year we saw Moana in the cinema, and I absolutely loved it- I do love Disney but I am not a big princess fan, I prefer their other stories. This was beautiful, and the songs are fantastic (although “You’re welcome” sounds a lot like the song from the Community Christmas special about the glee club, and the bit where she sings “I am Moana” sounds a bit like “I am a Mormon”, plus when the crab sings at times he sounds like the Flight of the Conchords Bowie impressions- and yes I do know it’s him singing)- since seeing it pretty much every time I have been in the kitchen I have played the soundtrack. So imagine my delight when this (and I can’t work out how to embed) popped up on DYRT on facebook- I love the parkrun versions of songs, and mixing Moana with parkrun is just genius. I love it. Or for some more traditional songs you can see the St Albans parkrun band performing “Oh Eight Fifty Nine” at the volunteer night. They always have such funny lyric adaptations on their facebook page, and to see one being performed is a treat, and possibly a total ear worm. Although the one that played after was them playing the Ghostbusters song (on Halloween) and I was a bit disappointed as it seems like they should have shouted “parkrunners” instead of “Ghostbusters”…

I am doing the run report next weekend, so I may need to think of some inspiration in the week too!

How has your weekend been? Are you loving this gorgeous frosty weather? (Apart from de-frosting the car first thing of course).  What have you seen in the cinema recently? We are off to La La Land next week.

Celebration of parkrun volunteers

On my drive to work on Tuesday, a massive crack appeared in my windscreen- first going right from the chip (a chip that was repaired over a year ago) and then left- rather scary. I drove home the long and slow way, and it got even longer- argh! I was due to be going to the celebration of parkrun volunteers, so I posted in our running club facebook group and thankfully someone offered to pick me up- phew.

Everyone who volunteered at a Hertfordshire parkrun had been invited to the evening, and there were lots of people from local running clubs, as well as lots of volunteers.

It was put on by the Herts sports partnership, and was held at the uni. It started with a buffet and drinks in the foyer (where we had to collect our badges- name + parkrun, although mine had Ellenbrook and Panshanger- when we booked the tickets we were not asked for our parkrun, so I think they must have looked to see where I tend to go), and it was lovely to chat to so many people- one of my friends from Panshanger was going to be doing a talk, and her daughter was presenting some flowers, and then I ended up chatting to a few people who I see at Ellenbrook and say hi to, so it was good to chat to them a bit more . The St Albans parkrun band were playing (mainly running songs like the Rocky theme tune, Keep on Running etc). Just before 7 we were led into the auditorium. After a brief introduction from the host (who was ED at South Oxhey parkrun I think- one of the Herts ones anyway) the king of parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt OBE gave a talk about how parkrun had started.

I thought I knew a lot about it- I used to listen to the parkrun show podcast (sister to marathon talk), and I have heard interviews from various people on the marathon talk podcast before. But he went into great depth and it was fascinating. He also talked about their ambitions of making the world a healthier and happier place, how they want to expand in America, and how they feel they should do China if they really want to have an impact. He talked a bit about sponsorship and how they feel a bit conflicted when the relationship changes a bit (eg at first Adidas supported them, but after a while they just wanted to push them to sell shoes) and how the apricot range of parkrun clothes is a big step in them coming more independent from sponsors (a great excuse to do a bit of internet shopping). Danny Norman was sitting in front of us (he used to present the parkrun podcast) and he was putting it on facebook live, so I am sure it is out there on the internet. If you are interested in parkrun, I’d recommend it.

It was so interesting hearing how it grew so organically- literally parkrunners would emigrate and then get in touch and say “can I start it here?”. We also heard about how they relented with Russia after “parkrunski” (no joke) was started, using QR codes instead of barcodes!

We then heard stories from various volunteers throughout Hertfordshire. At the start we had been told to cheer each time our home parkrun was mentioned, so each time we heard Ellenbrook all the OH ladies in attendance gave a big cheer- it was quite funny as the more local ones had much bigger cheers.

The stories included people joining parkrun to lose weight, getting involved in the core team and a VI runner and her guide. The VI runner was particularly inspiring because of the way parkrun had put her in touch with people- someone who was a guide for her also runs with her one evening, and someone else takes her swimming- it was just wonderful to see the community spirit. One of the volunteers was a child, and his mum had helped to start up another parkrun (Luton), apparently partly because her son did gymnastics and was often late because they went to parkrun first!

We then had the ED’s of the only Herts junior parkrun, talking about how they set it up, and how much they enjoyed it (they were both RD’s at Panshanger, so they knew how to set up a 5k one).

Then we had some information about how parkrun has grown across Herts- in October 2014 there was only one in the county (St Albans), but now there are 11, with more on the way.

Finally the Herts sports partnership gave out some awards, and then the most important part- coffee and cake- served back in the foyer. The band were playing again, this time singing some of the songs where they change the words- if you follow St Albans parkrun on facebook every now and then you will see them- e.g instead of “All about the Base” it’s “All about the lake” (as St Albans is 3 laps of a lake)…. very funny.

The people from Like the Wind magazine were there, as in the latest issue there was an interview with Paul S-H, and he was going to be signing issues. Since hearing them on marathon talk a long time ago, I signed up to the mailing list, and I get emails telling me when the new issue is out, but I have never actually bought one- it seemed like the perfect time.

I picked up a copy, got some cake and then had a wander around, looking for him. I ended up chatting to more people from our club, before finally realising that he was sat at the table where the magazines were being sold (I think I was too quick coming out of the auditorium as he wasn’t there when I bought mine!).

I get very easily star struck- when we met Mark Kermode Andy pretty much did all the talking, so nearly chickened out, but I joined the queue and I think I just garbled thanks to him about how I loved parkrun and how he was so amazing to come up with the idea. He asked me why I had two parkruns on my badge, so I had to explain that.

Then Andy came to pick me up as we had some sorting out to do with the cars. It was such a brilliant evening-  the only thing is, it was on a Tuesday so we all had to wait many days before we could actually go to a parkrun!

Does your county do anything to encourage sports participation?  Are you good at meeting famous people? I am sure I have mentioned this before, but on our first trip to Disney (I was at uni) I got starstruck meeting Minnie Mouse.