Back to Jersey farm, and a longer long run

Pasta, the amazing moon, frosty pavements and perfectly themed tea club

It was another freezing cold week, which meant gentle early morning runs due to slippery pavements. It’s strange because some of the pavements that are close to main roads (warmer) seem to be the last to thaw, or there will be weird patches of ice when the rest of the street is clear. It does make for some very pretty runs but trying to photograph the frost in the dark is not easy!

We did have an amazing moon during the week too, so again I tried to take some pictures of it- most successful as I was leaving work (in the not quite dark, hooray).

The trouble with the frost (and I am a fan of the blue skies and frosty winter days) is that it is absolutely freezing at work- for ventilation we have to keep the doors and windows open, and it is just horrible at times. I wrap up in many layers (as many as are practical when needing to write etc) and have a nice puffy gilet to wear inside too, but once your bones are cold it’s so hard to warm back up. Last Friday I felt awful by the time I got home- I think I had just been so cold for so long, and could not even face going back outside for a short walk, I just had to lay on the sofa under a blanket, and Andy put the fire on. Even that didn’t help and I ended up going to bed super early and taking a LFT test to check that I was OK (I was).

The Tea Club theming for this month was perfect with it’s focus on self care. My aim (on the self care side of things) was to keep up with the 30 days of yoga challenge. It’s been going well- I have tended to manage it either 4 or 5 times a week, so I will finish it later than planned but I will finish it. I am really enjoying them. In previous years I feel like there were lots of sessions that were 40 minutes, and even though that isn’t a lot of time, it is still harder to fit in. The 20 minute sessions mean I can fit some in before I go to work on a couple of days. I do feel that they are helping too- I even managed a little crow pose in my yoga class and I am sure that is because I am slowly building up a little more strength and confidence.

Crosstown apple doughnut, hot chocolate + fire, parkrun and the moon

Andy had ordered us Crosstown doughnuts (as they had free delivery) so we had those to work through over the weekend. On the Saturday morning I was off to Jersey Farm to run with my dad. I’d not been there this year due to various things, so it was good to be back at one of our local events. We saw a few OH runners and even bumped into one runner (Jan) who used to run regularly at Ellenbrook Fields parkrun but hadn’t been to a parkrun since they restarted (which I find hard to compute- I just can’t imagine not going to one after we waited so long for them to come back).

Crosstown PB&J, Red Velvet tea and Ron’s Gone Wrong

In the evening we finally got around to watching Ron’s Gone Wrong, which I really enjoyed (and it teaches us a lot of lessons about how social media can be damaging).

Sunday was time for another long run. I’d enjoyed my trip over to EF last Sunday so headed in the same direction, adding on a loop at the start to up it to 12 miles. I saw a little group of long tailed tits (which are just adorable little birds) half way up a hill, so of course stopped to look at them. Coincidentally, I’d seen 2 on the way to JF parkrun with Dad the previous day, but hadn’t seen them before that weekend for a couple of years.  Anyway, it was a damp and cold run and I was glad to warm up with a hot shower and then a latte kit left over from Christmas (a snowball latte).

I did a bit of yoga in the afternoon and it really helped with my sore legs so I must remember this!

How do you cope with the cold?

Henlow Bridge lakes parkrun for a more successful visit (challenge wise)

A couple of beautiful sunrises at work this week, matcha, a massage and yoga

In the lead up to the weekend, it was pretty much a standard week, with yoga on Wednesday evening, runs on Tuesday and Thursday morning (gentle due to icy pavements) and a few of the YWA throughout the week too. I am enjoying the challenge a lot this year, and I think that may be down to reducing the pressure. If I don’t finish it in the 30 days (I know I won’t as I am a long way behind) that doesn’t matter, so if I miss a day, the next day I’ll just do the video that followed the last one that I did. I think doing some yoga in the holidays helped with the actual class too, as the downward dogs weren’t such a shock to the arms! On Friday I went for a shoulder massage which was a good way to start the weekend.

Spot the difference – my Wilson Index from before and after the parkrun

So, onto Saturday, also known as parkrunday. I was off to Henlow Bridge Lakes parkrun yet again. I really enjoyed it on my first visit (flat laps of a lake, what’s not to like) and as it was event 15, and after checking the app several times, it was definitely a number that I needed on my Wilson Index. Dad was off (to Hastings parkrun as he was away for the week) so I was on my own.  It’s around a 30 min drive from home, so I left at around 8 to give myself plenty of time. It was super foggy on the journey. I tried to park in the same place that we used on our last visit, but the car in front got the last space, but thankfully I found another place close by (there is parking at the station but I could not work out how to drive to the station from where I was).

As I was there with a bit of time before the start, I walked around some of the lake and took a few photos. I found someone’s barcode on the floor and did my good deed of the day by handing it to the RD- the person looked very surprised when he called out her name in the run brief! I met a couple of lovely OH runners (Nicola and Helen) who had travelled up for some local tourism. I think I am gradually converting people over to liking the tourism side more, as we got into lots of chats about the google chrome extension for parkrun challenges (love it) and the 5k parkrunner app, which is not as good as the extension but good to use on your phone. We chatted to a few other tourists (one had been to over 200 different parkruns) and I think that inspired them too.

I thought I would aim to beat my time from the previous visit, although it was muddier than I had expected, plus I had forgotten to actually look at my time, so just ran on feel and took it sensibly through the muddiest parts. As I neared the finish the timekeeper shouted that I was on course for sub 30, and I knew that I wasn’t under 30 for my first visit, so I was pretty sure it would be a course pb, and when I got the text later on, it was confirmed. 29:35, beating 31:46 from last time.

I was pretty chilly by the time I had finished, so headed straight home (the others went for a coffee in the outdoor cafe) and made myself breakfast (French toast made with the delicious Mindful Bites vegan panettone).

Carrot cake, puzzle progress and yoga

The rest of the day was spent chilling at home, doing more on the puzzle, walking into town (mainly to get our free drinks from Caffe Nero, but then seeing some amazing looking vegan cakes in a coffee shop so of course popping in to get some takeaway bits), and also some yoga.

We started watching the new series of Dexter after Andy’s brother recommended it to us. I wasn’t sure what to expect – we had watched the series when they were originally on, but I think towards the end they got a bit out of hand (and some of the characters got so annoying – I’m looking at you, Lila). Anyway, it’s been pretty good so far as it isn’t taking itself too seriously.

I listened to an entire podcast over the week too- Sweet Bobby, about a catfish. It was so interesting and also really worrying to see how these things can escalate and even people who think they are quite savvy can end up being victims.

Sunday was of course runday, and as the Brighton half is now approaching (even though I feel like I only just did it, as the 2021 one was postponed until the autumn) I went out for 10 miles. I am rubbish at planning routes, but I know that Ellenbrook Fields is 5 miles from home, so I did an out and back route, over the fields. Again it was really misty when I set off (I could hardly see the trees at the edge of the fields) but by the time I was heading back it had cleared a little. I was so cold when I got home though- I think the damp air just made the cold feel worse as it was just above zero.

The coffee shop had amazing looking cinnamon buns so we had bought a couple for breakfast- heated up (plus tea) was a good way to start to warm up again after the run.

Are you training for any races at the moment? 

Bury Field parkrun- a Wilson Index fail! But a brilliant morning.

I have loved a parkrun challenge for a long time now- if you don’t already, I would suggest that you peep at the parkrun chrome extension, as it has all manner of fun challenges and you earn virtual badges for them. For example, the pirates club (7 C’s and one R), or Stayin’ Alive (3 B’s and 3 G’s). I was focused on the alphabet challenge for a while, but seeing as I need to go abroad for a Z, it’s been on the back burner a bit. So my focus has shifted to the Wilson Index for a bit (the gaps between milestone tops get long so you need something to occupy your mind with). Basically, this looks at event numbers. My WI is 8, as I have been to event numbers 1-8, and then 10-14 and so on. Bury Field popped up before Christmas, handily placed near to Milton Keynes, where my dad’s cousin lives. (We got him into parkrun by meeting him at Linford Wood back in 2017, and he really got into it,, volunteering lots and recently completing his 100th). He was going to meet us for my 250th, but the stormy weather put him off, so a meet up was very overdue. Anyway, I wrote down all sorts of lists, working out which event number I would need and when it would be. The complications over Christmas and New Year (when event teams didn’t have to put events on) combined with my poor use of lines on a notebook meant that I got my dates muddled and we arranged to meet last Saturday. It turned out it was event number 8, and in fact I needed number 9, but by the time I realised it was too late (plus my dad was not free the following weekend). Anyway, we don’t really need a reason to visit a new event!

I picked Dad up and we arrived at just after 8.30. The car park is in the town centre (it’s free) and literally right by the field where the parkrun starts. The parkrun itself was a one lap, over fields, mainly flat and really pretty. It reminded me a lot of Ellenbrook Fields- more wild scrubland than city centre maintained park, but really close to residential areas. It wasn’t the best weather (drizzling at the start, and cold stinging icy rain by the end), but I loved it.  Dad had got some trail shoes for Christmas and kept saying how amazing they were, how thy gripped on the mud and so on (he always had just road shoes before, thinking that two pairs of running trainers would be an extravagance, but realised that if he had 2 pairs, they would last twice as long).

The route was a bit of a funny shape, a bit like a clover leaf or something, as you came back to near the start/finish a few times without really seeing it.

Once finished we headed to a little café for a quick hot drink before heading our separate ways. Brian did tell us that after his next birthday he’ll be in a new age category (80+) and I am so happy that he is still active and loving parkrun at this age. He says that he often looks around on the start line to work out if he will be the first (or only) runner in that age category.

Puzzle progress, a cosy evening and some yoga

The rest of the day was spent doing housework (less fun), doing the puzzle (more fun but can only rally be done in daylight), and keeping on with the yoga.

Run scenes and pancakes when I got home

Sunday was such a gorgeous day but so cold. I went out for 8 miles and even when I was nearly home, some of the pavements were still icy. At one point I skidded along but managed to catch myself before I properly fell over.

First light as I leave for work, icy pavements on my run and of course the best parkrun pod to accompany my run

Although it wasn’t quite as bad as my morning pre-work runs (I was back to it that week)- some very icy glittery pavements.

Are you into any of the parkrun challenges at the moment? 

Not quite a new year day double parkrun

Back in the lockdown, parkrun announced that there would be no more New Year Day doubles (NYDD’s). Previously, parkruns could be on at different times on that day, giving people the chance to run at 2. For example, Panshanger used to start at 9am, and Ellenbrook Fields at 10.30, so you could run one, travel to the other one and run a second time. These were fun events, and as well as a local one I got to do a tourist one in Nottingham one year. However, I can completely see the reason why they stopped doing them- event teams were getting swamped with runners, and some people were rushing between events that were further and further apart, leading to safety concerns. Plus parks were getting full at later times, which could potentially upset local users who would turn up at 11am and find the park really busy.

So, this year, I had suggested Stevenage parkrun to my dad, as Panshanger was very flooded and Stevenage is mostly on paths. After arranging this, someone in my running club had suggested a run at Ellenbrook Fields later in the morning, so I asked my dad to drop me off at EF on our way back from Stevenage, and then I could either run home or Andy would pick me up. All sorted for a sort of NYDD.

It’s a genetic thing that we just can’t all smile/ keep our eyes open etc for a photo. If I could do photoshop then I could mix some together. But this one made me laugh. Plus the NYD sunrise, the park before parkrun started and my finish token.

Lots of OH ladies were heading to Stevenage too, so it was really lovely way to begin the year. One of them (Emily), decorates stones, and presented me with a special 250 milestone pebble. She hides hers for others to find but I am keeping this one!

Stevenage was fab, and after a bit of stretching we headed back to the car so I could be dropped off at EF.  I ended up running by myself as one of the people I was meeting couldn’t make it in the end, and I wasn’t sure if others were there but slightly ahead. I had an enjoyable run on my own, and took a few photos of my parkrun pebble at my parkrun spiritual home.

It was a great start to the year. The following day was Sunday and I went out for my traditional Sunday long run. I felt so tired and so just did 6 miles, but when I got home and looked at my watch, it said 40 miles for the week (it keeps a total starting on Monday). Because of the previous Sunday being Boxing Day, I’d not run (we’d been on a walk instead), so I had then run on Monday (6.5 miles), Tuesday (5.5 miles), Wednesday (10 miles- the delayed long run) and Friday (5 miles) as well. No wonder I was tired as if I go over 25 miles that’s a big week for me!

Thankfully there was lots of TV to catch up on- Taskmaster, Bake Off and Dopesick, so I could properly chill out. On NYD we watched a film, Summer of Soul, which was excellent, and really uplifting (better than Don’t Look Up which we watched on NYE and left me feeling so depressed).

It had been a fairly chilled week other than all the running- we watched a live podcast show on New Year’s Eve Eve (accompanied with warm mulled orange juice), I had some nice walks when it wasn’t raining, and made the most of using my Christmas mug and bowl.

Tasty food including hummus and sundried tomato toast, croissants, roasted red cabbage with veggie sausages and sweet potato, and pb chocolate dates.

I pottered around at home lots too, making various snacks (including my favourite simple snack- cut dates in half, fill with peanut butter and then drizzle on melted dark chocolate), and doing some clearing out/ organising.

Snacky lunch plate, enchilada casserole, croissants and mince pie wheats.

Andy had ordered some vegan cheese for us to try, and the Sheese Wensleydale with Cranberries was an outstanding winner. I was not a huge cheese fan, but I did always like this “Christmas cheese” and so am pleased to have an alternative that’s just as tasty. I made an enchilada casserole from my Virtual Vegan book (she has a lovely blog too, packed with fantastic recipes).

We made a start on our UP puzzle, I started reading some of my Christmas books, and of course ate lots of delicious chocolate- Andy got me a vegan selection box from the Vegan Kind supermarket and it had an excellent selection.

Matcha, Bake Off, Queer Eye and yoga

Before going back to work I made the most of our Christmas tree being up with some more cosy afternoons/ evenings in the living room- hooray for a new series of Queer Eye launching. Now the only problem is to not burn through it too quickly.

I also signed up for the Yoga with Adriene 30 day challenge. I have signed up the past few years and never completed it, because I would fall behind a day or two and then just give up/ get out of the habit. This year I am going to accept that it will take me longer than the 30 days. I started a day late, so I know I will always be behind which maybe is a good thing? I did a few in the mornings and then some late afternoons, and so far it’s going well.

I hope you had a good NYD/NYE. Did you ever make it to a parkrun double? 

Christmas Eve and a Christmas day parkrun!

The first day of the holidays started off so beautifully- everywhere was covered in frost with such lovely skies. I had a fab run (one of the OH challenge sessions was to run up and down a hill 4 times, so I ticked that one off). I then had a day of Christmas jobs including decorating all of the cakes (they were rather taking over our dining room table- I think there were 6?).

An almond bun (from Random Buns of Kindness) was enjoyed, and we even had the fire on while we watched Home Alone- got to get through those Christmas classics.

By the next day the grey clouds had rolled in and it seemed to stay like that for the rest of the holidays. Ah well.

Hot chocolate while wrapping presents

On Christmas Eve-eve I saw this cute sausage dog decoration on my run and my Elf bag and wallet arrived- perfect timing. I got on with more prep- making some vegan Christmas pudding fudge and some spiced nuts.

On actual Christmas Eve I had a day off running, and walked over to meet one of the OH ladies for a walk together (delivering her some fudge and a foam roller that I didn’t need- for some reason I had 2).

I did lots of sorting out and clearing away. When taking apart my jam advent calendar for recycling, I made a discovery. I’d been a bit miffed that on the first day, I got a spoon and no jam. It turned out that number 1 had a double door, with some cherry and Christmas spice jam as well as the spoon. Oops. Number 24 was a decoration so I could hang that on the tree. I also saw lots of parakeets on our bird feeders. They used to be a rare occurrence (spreading out from the London parks) but they are in our garden all the time- they are so bright (and noisy!).

Once Andy finished work we had a long walk and then settled down with tea and a hot cross bun (so festive!) to watch a Muppets Christmas Carol. After dinner we watched It’s a Wonderful Life- those two will always be Christmas Eve movies for us.

And then it was Christmas Day and time for parkrun of course! I was so excited, as of course this time last year we didn’t even have parkrun, and the year before we’d been in France on Christmas Day. It was a long time coming. I’d volunteered as a marshal, so I could wear my With Me Now “meowy Christmas” jumper, as well a Christmas leggings, my Run Up 2 Christmas top (hidden under the jumper), elf socks and reindeer antlers. I ran there and then was assigned my spot, fairly close to the start/finish area. I regretted not bringing gloves though – my walk the previous day had been so mild that I hadn’t brought them with me, but the wind was much colder.

There was also a slight diversion as there was a lot of flooding (it made me miss Ellenbrook Fields as we sometimes had what we called a water feature, basically a flood). I had to direct at the start, and then walk to near the water feature and direct runners away from the big puddle. I was given a cow bell to ring.

Flooded bit of the course! And Christmas Pudding with Encanto.

I LOVED marshalling! I have marshalled lots before (it even beats tail walker as my most common volunteer spot) but I’d not done it on Christmas Day before, always opting to run if I was around. It was just so cheerful. I spoke to a couple at the start who said they come along to watch the parkrun take place each Christmas Day, despite never taking part (I did explain that they were allowed to walk, and pointed out the walkers and tail walker, so you never know). They had missed it last year, and I just thought how lovely it was that people who don’t take part still enjoy the community that it has created.  I loved spotting the range of outfits that people were wearing, and I loved having a bigger range of things to say, wishing everyone happy Christmas and commenting on their outfits as well as the usual “well done’s” and so on.  So many people wished me a happy Christmas as they ran past and I just felt so happy to be there. I saw a few runners from my club and got to cheer them on at the start and even chat to a couple when I had walked back to the finish.

I bought us this Up puzzle for a holiday project, books, vegan selection box and delicious Aldi German hearts

I was quite chilly by this point (even getting my phone out to play a podcast for the run home was tricky as my fingers weren’t working properly) but thankfully I warmed up on the run home.

After breakfast we had a chilled out morning, exchanging gifts, listening to some Christmas podcasts (hooray for the Adam and Joe Christmas special) and then prepping lunch. Andy had given me a New Zealand travel book- I always said I wanted to go there for my 40th (well, the summer holidays- I’m not going there for a weekend!) but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe summer 2023? The book about the art of Frozen is so interesting too, I loved watching the documentary about the making of Frozen 2 and this is similar in that you can see the evolution of the characters and stories. He also got me a vegan selection box, which has so thoughtful. I got a fair few boxes of chocolates from work (which is very kind of the parents of course, but as they all contain milk I won’t be having any of them).

We had a lovely lunch of some veggie parcels (I think they were butternut squash and beetroot with a chestnut topping), potatoes and veggies, but we were too full for Christmas pudding. In the afternoon we headed over to see my parents as my sister, niece and nephew were also there (LFT taken beforehand). It was so nice to be there when our niece opened her presents (last year Andy delivered them as I was isolating and of course we were not allowed to meet up with anyone)- I’d got her a few bits including a soft toy baby Sven (from Frozen) and she was so taken by him (“I’ll call it reindeer sparkles”). Once home we had our Christmas pudding and watched Encanto- a perfect way to end the day.

Did you get to a parkrun this Christmas? Did you enjoy your Christmas?