Baking and back to the 20/20 route

A couple of years ago, WGC created a 20km circular route around the city, to mark the centenary. In the first lockdown I started to explore the paths and eventually joined them all up, and often used part of it as a running route. However, the parts close to me are quite muddy so I’ve not been on them during the winter at all.

On the Sunday following my Finsbury Park trip, I decided to rectify that and head out on part of the route. It was a beautiful sunny day and most of the paths were fine (a few small muddy patches here or there, but no need for trail shoes). I had forgotten quite how hilly it is though! I don’t think there’s a good way to run it, but I tend to run anti-clockwise as I think the hills are slightly less steep in that direction.

I enjoyed most of it, although when I was running though some fields I kept hearing shots (like bird scarers but more frequent) and realised I must have been near a clay pigeon shooting range or something, which made it not very relaxing.  Also, near the end I had one not very nice dog encounter (and I did pass lots of other dogs that were either on leads or their owners distracted them while I ran past). I was running down a path and a dog raced over to me, barking. The owner was way back and not paying much attention. I stood still and it growled as it got closer and then sort of shoulder barged into my leg- it was very strange. I called to the owner to control his dog, and he raised his hands and laughed in a sarcastic way, saying “she’s not usually like that”. I did tell him that it didn’t matter if she wasn’t normally like that, but she just really hurt me (my knee sort of twisted and is still a bit sore a few weeks later) and she should be on a lead if she can’t be safe around others. Honestly, I know it’s a small minority of dog owners but they really impact negatively on my impression of dog owners.

Anyway, the rest of the run was good. Once home it was time for an amazing cinnamon bun (we’d picked it up on the way back from the station the day before) and then time to get on with some baking. I hadn’t baked for ages and really fancied it- I made bourbon biscuit tiffin from the Slice of Sunshine blog, and it was very tasty indeed.

After the usual weekend errands we settled down for a movie- Turning Red, which I really enjoyed. It reminded me a lot of Studio Ghibli films- not just the panda being like Totoro but the style of music too.

Finsbury Park parkrun

On the 12th March I took myself on a little solo tourist trip. Dad was away, so I could either go to Panshanger, or venture further afield.   I had seen that the Vegan Runners were doing a takeover a Finsbury Park parkrun, and it is fairly near to me but I’ve never been, so I decided I would head there. It’s on the same train line from Welwyn Garden City, although the train aren’t that frequent (2 or 3 an hour), so I had to be prepared.

I was at the station just before 8am and arrived at Finsbury Park station at around 8.20am. Plenty of time, and I’d allowed time in case of delays and cancellations etc. It turned out to be very lucky indeed, because I first got lost in the train station (there are two exits and I tried to go out of the underground exit and so my ticket didn’t work- I had to go back under the tunnel and out of the over ground exit), and then once out I got totally confused about the direction, and turned right rather than left. After walking for a bit and seeing no park (on the map the park is right next to the station), I did what any sensible person would do, and first put on my Garmin to track my run, and then looked on maps on my phone to see where I was. Yup, the wrong direction totally.

Once I was pointed in the correct direction, it didn’t take long to find the park, but I am glad that I didn’t get the train that was meant to arrive at 8.45 as I would have been panicking at that point.

The park had huge wide paved roads, and was filled with runners going in all directions. I was not quite sure where the start was, so wandered around taking photos until I saw a big group of people gathering. There were lots of people with the Vegan Runners vests and tops and buffs, and most of the volunteer roles had been filled by the club. I was on the lookout for Ed Miliband as I hear he often does this parkrun, but no joy this week.

The new runners briefing (which I think is soon going to be called the “welcome” which I really like) was super- 2 laps, and a hill- simple.

Then we walked to the start and the main briefing was given. The RD was a vegan and gave a few wry comments about how poor vegans are all malnourished and how he hoped some of them would make it to the finish line…

And then we were off! It seemed very busy- possibly the busiest one I’ve been to since lockdown (over 500 runners) but it was well spread out so it felt fine in that respect.  There were a few hills- one was OK but the second of each lap was much tougher. All the cheerful marshals helped of course! As I was coming up to finish my first lap, the leader raced past on his second, and I saw later in the run report that he had broken the course record in 14:58- what an amazing time!

I really enjoyed visiting there, and when I looked at my results later I realised that it was my 80th different parkrun event- 4/5 of a Cowell! I love going to parkrun with my dad (and brother when he comes along), and of course the fab OH ladies, but sometimes it is nice to take yourself off and do something on your own. It also made me realise that I need to do a bit of prep before my next parkrun tourism as I cannot just rely on getting my phone out once I am already lost- I need to look at the directions properly in advance!

Post run, the lake before the run, mid run photo and finish token

I had a while before my train so took my time heading back to the station, and popped into Pret to get a croissant for breakfast (when in Rome…). I had looked up the train times and there were 2 around 10am, one was a slow train which departed first but got home a few minutes after the fast train. I nearly got on the slow train but when they announced the stations I didn’t hear WGC- turned out it was stopping before then, so it was lucky that I listened to the announcements and didn’t just rely on the train times that I’d looked up.

Andy walked to meet me in town, and so by the time we’d walked back and I’d had a shower it was quite a late breakfast, watching the latest With Me Now vlog as is now tradition for Saturdays.

Do you like to tour alone or with others? How are you with directions?

Signs of spring and pink rainbows!

On Sunday morning I had a lovely 8 mile run. It started off in the sunshine but by the end it was quite cloudy. I saw loads of crocus flowers and some daffodils and blossom- it was starting to feel very spring-like. I had pancakes once home- I’d not made them for ages so it felt like a lovely treat.

I then made the mistake of suggesting the new West Side Story as an afternoon movie, as I’d seen it was on Disney Plus. Let’s just say, it turns out that Muppets Most Wanted is more my style of musical I thought (wrongly) it was going to be modernised- and I thought that a modern twist on the story (immigration etc) would be interesting, but no, it was just a remake. I had bought a cinnamon bun from the coffee shop in town, and it was cold enough to have the fire on, so it wasn’t all bad!

Pret granola and Aldi chocolate chip yoghurt was a delicious snack after yoga

My early morning runs were also seeing the signs of spring, as the sunrise it about to appear at times.

One morning I had the most amazing run. I started to see this pink line in the sky, and wondered if it was the trail from a plane being lit up by the sunrise, but it appeared stronger as I ran, and got more and more arched. I realised after a while that it was a rainbow- it wasn’t raining at that point but there were a few drops as I got closer to home. I just kept taking photos of it and stopping as it was so beautiful. It set my day up so well.

Have you ever seen a pink rainbow? I’ve seen the upside down rainbows before (something to do with ice crystals I think).

IWD parkrun! And “two’s day” running to plant trees.

The week following on from our trip to Brighton was fairly standard.

Andy had bought me one of the amazing vegan chocolate coconut almond croissants from the Flour Pot bakery- I was going to have it for breakfast on Monday morning but I felt a bit rubbish in the morning so saved it for Tuesday- I went for a short run to ease my achy legs and then watched the latest With Me Now video and enjoyed it with some tea.

One of my new year goals was to sign up to Earth Runs- they are virtual runs and they use your entry money to plant trees. The previous Tuesday was “two’s day”- 22.2.22, and they did a special run where they would plant 22 trees if you ran a 5k. I didn’t need much persuading to sign up for that! My medal arrived (you can pay extra to have a medal and they are compostable and filled with wildflower seeds).

Christmas cake, slightly lighter skies at the end of a run and my medal for 22 trees

On the Wednesday I had an all day training course (online), followed by a staff meeting (online) and then a local cluster meeting (online)- I knew I’d be sat looking at my laptop from 8.30-5.30, so I went for a run in the morning to stretch my legs. It poured with rain but in the lunch break I decided to have a quick walk too, just to give my eyes a break from the screen. I really do not know how people manage to look at computers all day!

A rainy lunch time walk, cookies and tea to help with the training, plus sweets from my vegan box (just took the photo as they matched my nail varnish) and lemon loaf from a new baking book.

We did an order from the Vegan Kind supermarket, and happily it coincided with their doughnuts being in stock (they only have them on certain days)- these were shared over the weekend and so good. We started to watch The Afterparty, and I really enjoyed it (we’ve finished it now)- it had similar vibes to Only Murders in the Building, so if you liked that then I’d recommend seeking this out.

And then it was finally Saturday! As it was IWD the week after, parkrun was encouraging women to take part/ volunteer etc. We headed to Jersey Farm along with lots of OH ladies. I thought they might make a bit more of IWD, but literally the RD went “and, international women’s day”, and then did the countdown.

I’d not been there since January, and it was much drier with a few big muddy puddles. Quite good going but I still got lots of mud splattered up my legs. I could have worn a marathon top as it was parkrun 262 (26.2) for me, but I only thought about it after!

Did your parkrun do anything for IWD? 

Yoga with Adriene- I actually did it!

For the last few years, our running club has had a December challenge, and one of those challenges was to set goals for the following year. One of my goals this year was to stretch/ do yoga more regularly than my once a week yoga class. I know it’s good for my body, but it is also good for my mind to slow down and relax.

In previous years I’ve started the YWA January challenge, but I’ve never even made it half the way through. I decided I needed to be realistic with myself. No matter what people say, sometimes finding 20 minutes to do some yoga is just too hard. I have meetings after work, I have work to mark and other bits to do. Obviously you can’t do yoga after eating, so it just gets harder to find the time, and I think if I didn’t do one day before, I’d be a bit disheartened and then stop. This year I decided to follow it, but just not worry if I was a few days behind. In the end, I finished it right at the end of February, so it took me 2 months rather than one, but I worked through every session.

The other thing that helped were the length of the sessions- they were usually around 20 minutes, but some being 30 minutes, whereas in previous years some have been 40 minutes or a bit more. On the face of it that doesn’t sound like much, but actually finding the time for them is much harder.

I’d also signed up to the daily emails so I got a prompt, and could find the next unread email to see where I had got up to.

I tended to do them on Monday and Friday mornings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I found the Sunday afternoon session particularly helpful after doing a Sunday long run, so I will definitely keep up with that, and see if I can do a session or two in the week as well.

Vegan re-usable food wrap from my vegan monthly box, the most delicious almond croissant from Veggie Pret, and the message at the end of the YWA month.

The final session was the Monday after the half marathon, and turned out to be a freestyle one where you followed your body. I ended doing a fair bit of foam rolling as well as stretches as my legs really needed it.

On the subject of self care, I also got a delivery of hair syrup- a pre wash treatment for your hair. I’d been keen to try it for a while but they are one of those small shops that restock every now and then. The main reason I wanted to give them a go is because you put it onto dry hair. I’ve used a few that go onto wet hair but it’s a pain to get your hair wet, put it on and then sit around with wet hair for ages.

Fire, hair treatment and finishing Inventing Anna

I can now get home from work, put it on, have a cup of tea and then got for a shower and wash my hair later on. It was chilly enough the other week to put the fire on, which did help to dry my hair after I’d washed it!