A training half marathon in the end

I feel like my training (“training”- I mean long runs on Sundays) has been a bit all over the place for the Brighton half this year. I’m not sure if it’s because it was in the autumn last year, but it feels like I have ramped up quite quickly in January, although I was still running fairly long miles in December. My Sundays have been 10 miles at the end of December, then 6, 8, 10, 12, 11.  I quite like running a bit further than a half in training, but I haven’t managed it this time, so for the first weekend in February I decided to run a half distance just to check that I could.

Run views, muddy shoes and a hot cross bun

It hadn’t been that wet, and the previous week I’d worked out how to join up two out and back routes, so I ran out through Panshanger, around Hertford and then back via Cole Green Way. The rest of the run was OK but it was so muddy in Panshanger- I really should have worn my trail shoes as my normal road shoes aren’t that grippy.  It was quite tough as it was fairly windy too (nothing compared to these recent storms though). The lovely Planted Coffee co van was in the car park when I ran through so I bought a piece of rocky road to have later on- I thought it would be the best thing to be in my pocket for the rest of the run! Anyway, the run was OK, and at least I know I can run that far.

In the afternoon we watched a film (the new Ghostbusters- quite fun) and enjoyed a hot cross bun.

The rest of the week leading up to the Sunday was fine- I was still keeping up with the yoga, managing sessions on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. I do find the post run yoga really helpful so I must keep doing it. Thursday was a busy day as we had comedy tickets (delayed from March 2020, as everything seems to be at the moment). We were originally going to the Alban Arena, but they had found asbestos in the building to had changed it to a venue in Harpenden (close by). I had a meeting after work so it felt a bit of a rush to race home, quickly have dinner and head out again. I was also having the “joy” of daily LFT’s as I was deemed a close contact from someone at work, although thankfully her diligence in always wearing a mask and keeping her distance meant I was negative each time.

Sunsets, a gingerbread man and 80 Days Around the World

The evenings were definitely getting lighter, and I was treated to some beautiful sunsets from my window at work. I started watching the newest 80 Days Around the World, although I am disappointed that the theme tune is no as good as either the Michael Palin one or the cartoon version.

On Friday I had a lunch time meeting so decided to treat myself to a sandwich instead of making something. This one from Co-op was really nice- I usually opt for the hummus and falafel one but I was glad I opted for a change. My wellbeing buddy gave me those hazelnut bites and they are so tasty- a bit like a nakd bar in a ball with some nut butter in the middle.

Are you training for anything at the moment? 

Chasing the Wilson Index and a course pb!

Warning- this post contains some quite nerdy parkrun obsessive content!

We all love the parkrun milestones, but the gap between 100 and 250 is a long one- 3 years if you run every single week- so I quite like having a bit of a focus on other things. I got into the alphabet a while ago, and before the pause I completed the UK parkrun alphabet, with just Z to go (no Z’s in the UK). Since the un-pause, I was working on my 250, as when it paused I had 15 to go. Now of course the gap between 250 and the next official milestone of 500 is even bigger, so what to focus on now?

Well, I am working to get my Cowell (100 different events)- at this point I was on 78 different events. But touring isn’t always possible, and I think that an hour is about my limit of travelling from home. I’d rather be somewhere already and then visit one nearby than go further and further afield each Saturday.

There’s the p-index (if you have run at 2 events twice, your p index is 2), which is quite good for increasing visits to local events. Mine is on 5, but I think if I go to Preston Park in Brighton one more time then it will up to 6, and most of the other local events I’ve only been to once or twice so I’d need to visit lots more to get it up higher.

So, my main focus at the moment is the Wilson Index. This is to do with the event number that you visit. Visit an inaugural, and you have ticked off an event number 1. Go to a parkrun on it’s second week, and you will tick off number 2. Your WI is the highest number that you have reached without any gaps.  The 5k runner app has a helpful tracker, with event numbers that you have visited being in green, numbers that you need in pink, and then your longest streak (which may not start at 1) in purple (they call it your floating Wilson Index). My Wilson Index is 8, (I have numbers 1-8 with no gaps) as I need a 9, but of course before I go to an event 9 I can tick off higher numbers. This is the newest local event so it’s good to take the opportunity to tick off some of the next numbers that I need.

Above- my last visit there was for event number 15 and you can see the before and after of the WI tracker- the 15 is now green which means it’s ticked off.

If you have read my blog before, you will know that after Christmas I got a bit muddled over event numbers, and went up to Bury Fields for event 8 when in fact I needed number 9.  However, this week I had definitely got it right when I headed back to Henlow Bridge Lakes for my 3rd visit, as it was it’s 18th event and I had a gap on number 18. It’s around a 30 minute drive, and one of my oldest (my first?) friends lives nearby. She has 5 children so isn’t always easy for her to coordinate with meeting up, but on this visit she had volunteered, along with 3 of her children (I thought we would run/walk it together but I was equally happy to see them all marshalling).

Hooray, number 18 is now green and ticked off!

We had a lovely chat at the start, although her children started to get a bit anxious that I’d miss the start so I headed off with plenty of time to spare. I then managed to somehow run a course pb of 28:51- I think it was their fabulous cheering that got me to speed up!

My Earth Runs medal arrived too

The weather was frosty but with beautiful blue skies- the mud was much more compact than on my previous two visits, with only a few boggy patches left. It’s so flat so when the mud dries out I think it will be a fairly fast one. They still get quite small numbers (I was token 35, and 1st in my age cat which doesn’t happen a lot), and it has a really friendly feel to it because of the smaller size I think. Anyway, I’ll be back!

Often parkrun will be with my dad at a local event, and I love those runs together, and going to see my mum for breakfast after, but especially if they are away it’s nice to mix things up and have a bit of a focus as to where to go as we have so much choice around here for events. It’s a good situation to be in!

Are you into any of the parkrun challenges? Any idea what your Wilson or P index is?

Panshanger parkrun sandwich and a bird watch

The last weekend in January has always been the Big Garden Bird Watch (Birdwatch?) and this year was no exception. Due to Saturday being rather busy, I planned for it on Sunday morning after my run.

Dexter by the fire trying to warm up/ Snow Fairy scented hand cream/ yoga/ delicious vegan chocolate given to me from a friend at work

The week leading up to the final weekend in January was standard- some runs, and some yoga- a class and keeping up with the YWA. We also started on the new series of Dexter after it was recommended to us- we used to quite like it but the last few series went a bit off, but this new series was quite good (apart from the ghost character…).

On Saturday I had to be home and out fairly quickly, so opted for Panshanger. I’d not been there since Christmas when I marshalled, and Dad hadn’t been there since some time in the autumn, but he fancied a bit of a longer run, so I ran there, meeting him in a car park on the way. As we entered the park we could hear a woodpecker drumming, so stopped to try and spot it. I can never locate them but my dad is really good at this sort of thing, and saw it right at the top of a dead tree. We could see it moving around. The car park marshal commented that she could hear it but had never seen a woodpecker (never???) and so we tried to point it out to her but I am not sure if she was just being polite when she said she could see it.

Blue skies at parkrun, finish token and Pret cookie

The parkrun was fab, not as muddy as we had expected and the park as usual was looking so pretty. We didn’t hang around at the finish and walked/jogged back to the car park.

I usually stop and start my watch but just left it running, and I was quite surprised that it totalled 8 miles by the time I got home. Dad was hoping to work up to a 10k but I think the car park was around a mile from home so I think he probably ran a 10k that morning.

Once home I had to rush around as I had an appointment at an Apple store about my phone (with a “genius”- I mean, I am not a big fan of tech companies and to call yourself that is just ridiculous). I was dreading it as my phone is old in the throwaway / get a new phone each year society that we live in (over 3 and a half years…) and the battery just sometimes drops like a stone. I was very much expecting them to pressure me into buying a new phone, so we were going to get a Pret lunch after as something to look forward to. Anyway, the appointment was actually OK (although I did get sort of told off when I went up to the counter at my appointment time as I hadn’t “checked in” with the people by the door. I mean, there were no signs saying that, there was nothing in the booking info that told me to do that… even when I went back to them to try and check in they didn’t seem that keen. But, the person I saw was more helpful, and didn’t try to make me get a new phone, and didn’t even say that the battery needed replacing just yet. I was even quite pleased when he examined it and wrote in his notes that it was in excellent condition. Yes thank you it is.

The Pret didn’t have the best vegan options (our usual order now is to share the hummus wrap and the avocado flatbread so we get a bit of each) and had to make do with the olive baguette thing, but at least they had the cookies in stock.

We then didn’t have a great deal of time at home (just time to do some cleaning, oh the joy) before heading over to Andy’s parents as it was his dad’s birthday.

Breakfast and frosty run views

On Sunday morning it was frosty as I set off for my long run- 11 miles along Cole Green Way (an old railway line) to Hertford. I usually stop a bit short of Hertford itself, but decided to carry on to see where it eventually pops out. I was quite pleased to see that it was close to the centre, and would be easy to make it into a looped route by running back through Panshanger. I did an out and back as I think that going back through the park would have cut it shorter and I wanted to do the 11 miles and not have to add on bits when I got closer to home.

Tea and a scented candle to accompany me on the bird watch

Once I’d showered and had breakfast I got ready for the bird watch. Last year I watched from my living room, but some of the shrubs have got really big and obscure some of the garden, so I decided to watch from upstairs as then I can see most of the garden. It did mean standing up for the hour but maybe that’s better than sitting and getting stiff after a long run? I saw lots of birds including loads of sparrows, some blue tits and great tits, starlings, a blackbird, a robin, a few parakeets, lots of pigeons and even a red kite flying above (we get lots of them around here now).

Once that was over I had to get on with some work, but I did break for a yoga session- I think I managed 4 that week plus my yoga class so at least I am being fairly consistent with it. It’s the furthest I’ve got through one of these challenges still, and doing some after a long run is really helpful.

Do you ever join in with things like the bird watch or butterfly watch?