Christmas tops and marshalling at parkrun

So, another fairly normal week came to an end. A couple of morning runs with a hint of dawn towards the end. Yoga on Wednesday evening, as good as always, and a few walks in the evenings too. I joined Run up 2 Christmas again, and this year bought the top (last year I bought socks), and that arrived in the week, although it was too mild to wear it at that point.

The only slight difference was that we had swapped cars with my parents as they were off up North and our car has a bigger range- we can charge theirs at home so it wasn’t an issue, but I am not that great with different cars. We’d had a practise swap a few weeks ago, so it was OK, but one morning it was frosty and I could not work out how to open the boot to see if there was a scraper….

Frozen jumper, banana bread, a new-t0-me vegan chocolate bar from my wellbeing buddy, and excitement over a new podcast

I also bought myself a new Christmas jumper (sort of. I mean, it’s Frozen, which isn’t really Christmas, but I think I can wear it more easily at this time of year). The people behind “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” have started doing a podcast where they chat about each show. The first series was years ago so it’s interesting to hear how they would change things, but mainly it’s reminded me of how funny it is (although it definitely gets better once Frank is in it) and have started re-watching it.

On Saturday I was marshalling at Panshanger. As it’s only a couple of miles away, I ran there. They ask for the marshals to be there at 8.15am, as it’s a one lap course so some of the points are a long way from the start. As I was the first marshal there, I got to choose, so thought I may as well go to the furthest point, at the top of the little gravel hill. It’s the highest point on the course, and I always appreciate the marshal at the top cheering everyone up, so it was nice to pay it back. It was chilly but I’d brought along a hat, gloves and buff to put on once I was stood still, and I was fine.

One thing that was a bit strange was that on the way to my spot I saw a lot of runners doing hill reps on part of the course. I thought they were warming up, but later on, just before the parkrun started, they ran past me in the opposite direction, and then again closer to when the tail walker came through. Of course it’s a public park and they were totally fine, but why would you do that and not parkrun? Particularly as two laps of the part that they ran probably equated to parkrun distance. They were perfectly friendly, and when I warned them of runners coming in the other direction they were really respectful (as were the parkrunners heading towards them) but I just find it hard to compute!

Loads of OH ladies were running there that day, so I got to cheer them on with their running and then see them at the end, as once the tail walker past I went back the way I’d come, mainly running, and so was back at the start before the event had finished. I was quite cold when I got home, but also hungry, so I had a drink before a shower (banana mylk shake from my vegan box)- I’m not normally a banana flavoured fan, but this was nice (actually flavoured with bananas) and a good thing for an energy boost when breakfast was still a bit of time away.

I made sort of DIY chocolate almond croissants by sticking some flaked almonds on top of vegan chocolate croissants and baking them in the oven for a few minutes- delicious.

I had a lot of work to get through, and Andy was out all day, which on the one hand was good because it meant I could get on and focus, but also not so good as I can easily spend all day doing work unless he reminds me to take a break. At one point I was doing some online training and was getting so stressed as I could not get it to print the certificate (we had to print it to prove we had spent the 1hr15 doing the training)- I was going around in circles as every time I clicked the “click here to download your certificate” it would open a new window with the same set of instructions. Argh. He texted me at that moment to remind me to take a break, and it was really perfect timing because I was about to cry (I’d had loads of paperwork to get through too and was just feeling a bit overwhelmed). In the end I saved a screenshot of it and that was enough to prove that I had completed the training so all was OK.

In the afternoon I went out on a walk, prepped some baking and then watched some of the making of Frozen 2.

Sunday was bright but also utterly freezing! I was keen to wear my new Christmas top, but I really should have worn another layer as it was windy and the wind just sucked away any body heat. It also started off sunny but then I ran through several rain/ sleet showers, saw loads of rainbows and it really felt a bit like the 4 seasons in one day type of run.

I had prepped a babka loaf (with chocolate and biscoff) for breakfast as I have not made it for ages and really fancied something warm. Andy put it in the oven while I was in the shower and then we had it for brunch- so good.

We did brave a walk as we had our vitality drinks to pick up. I had switched over to a festive cosy, and the decorations were up in town so of course I took a few pics of them too.

Also- marmite hummus- love it or hate it? I really like the combination, but I find that it is maybe a bit too strong for me? We’ve had it a few times (it’s amazing on warm bread) but it just gets a bit salty by the end.

Autumn leaves and Disney+ weekend

Each weekend that I go on a run, I feel that it’s the last chance to see all the autumn leaves, as loads of the trees are pretty bare now. Last Sunday was no exception! But to the week first.

Beautiful moon when I left work one day, hot cross bun, massage and pod

I am sticking with the morning mid-week runs still, but down to 2. It’s so dark in the mornings, although sometimes I’ve got a glimpse of the sunrise as I get home. It’s so dark in the evenings too, and so running then doesn’t have a huge appeal either. I am more limited to routes (there’s a cut through a park but I don’t like doing that in the dark even with my torch on) but I’ve sorted a couple of newish routes so it’s not too monotonous.

I’d booked a last minute massage after work one day (always needed, although I wasn’t as told off as last time so maybe the shoulder circles are helping).

Onto the weekend- I was off to Jersey Farm with Dad. It was pretty good going, still not too muddy. We saw lots of OH ladies but had to head off fairly quickly at the end so couldn’t hang about and chat. As soon as my 249th (!) parkrun results were through, I emailed Panshanger to volunteer the following week. Dad was heading off for a week and I want to celebrate my 250th with him, so needed to not run for a week, but I didn’t want the plans to get upset (what if I didn’t finish at JF for some reason? what if the results didn’t come through? etc) so waited until I was sure. I had a quick breakfast at Mum and Dad’s before heading home, as they were heading up to York in our car, and I was having their car for a week (their car has a lower range so it’s fine for commuting, and they have taken it on trips around the UK but obviously it’s easier to charge less if you can).

Then the rest of Saturday was unexciting- some work, some cleaning… nothing to write home about but it all needed doing.

In the evening we watched Red Notice which was quite funny and a good Saturday night movie.

On Sunday I went out to run around the centre of town- I did a couple of laps and headed home after 8 miles. Of course I stopped to take more leaf photos! Once home I had one of the drinks from my vegan box- a chocolate/coconut water drink. It was really good, and perfect after a long run. My running mileage is getting shorter at the moment- I don’t think I’ll be near to 100 miles this month, whereas I’ve been fairly consistent with that up until now. But I think it’s good to have ebbs and flows, and once the holidays are here I can get back to doing some longer mid week runs and work up to the Brighton half in February.

My treat for getting all of my work done on Saturday was to watch some Disney+ I went for another Olaf short (they are so funny), baked a couple more Christmas cakes and then sat down properly to watch Enchanted. I wanted to watch it last year but it wasn’t on Disney+ for some reason, but that has been rectified and they were advertising it as part of their Disney+ weekend.

Do you have films that you like to revisit?

A wet weekend and Frozen excitement!

After our DLP trip (and extra day) we took time on the Wednesday to drive back up to the Eurotunnel. We went to the nearby shopping centre to get lunch from Pret (I was very pleased to see a vegan option, as there wasn’t a huge deal of options in the shops). We also picked up a few bits for Christmas presents (mainly coffee and wine for my parents). Andy was keen to visit some war memorials so we stopped at a few- all very thought provoking and I don’t think you could get more of a contrast from our previous few days.

Autumn leaves seen on my run, and bottom right one of my birthday trees turning beautiful shades of red

Thursday was a chill out/ catch up on housework day- I had a run in the morning and then we just pottered about. I did get on with some jobs outside too, including using the bulb planter. It looks like a big apple corer, and it lifts out the soil, you put the bulb in and then pop the soil back on top. I tried using it a month ago but the ground was rock hard. Now, a different problem- as the soil was so wet it was sticking to the tool. I ended up slightly spraining my wrist from all the twisting and pushing (and had to wear a support thingy for the entire following week, not ideal), so I hope the colour in spring is worth it!

Pumpkin spiced tea latte from B&B, London in the evening and various Crosstown doughnuts shared over the following few days including cinnamon scroll and pb&j.

We had planned to head in to London on Friday for our anniversary (actually Saturday but we had plans for that day already). I thought we were going to have a walk, get some food and then head home. We got some lunch, walked along by the river, bought some doughnuts from Crosstown to take home, walked to Borough market to visit the Bird and Blend store, walked around by Hyde park and then got dinner at a Leon (we are both addicted to their Love burgers). Then we ended up outside a theatre- Andy had booked us tickets to see Frozen! I was so excited! The Disney magic was continuing for the half term.

As we went in they checked vaccine passports, and you had to keep your mask on the whole time, plus it was a huge airy theatre (with fresh air being pumped in) so it felt perfectly fine. I loved the show- seeing live singing and dancing is always fantastic, and this cast was brilliant. The two children being Elsa and Anna at the start (for a big chunk of the show) were amazing, and all the sets, stage changes, costumes etc were so impressive. If you’ve ever seen The Little Mermaid Show in MGM and wondered how her tail turns into legs, well, there was a bit similar in the show which had us scratching our heads. Olaf was so funny (as my niece had told me earlier in the year, as my sister had taken her) and it was just so impressive.

Of course Saturday was time for parkrun- my 247th. I am really counting them down now until the big 250th- it won’t be long! I was running to and from Panshanger as Andy had the car.  When I left home it wasn’t raining (although some rain was forecast), but when I was around half a mile from the start it really poured down. I was really cross as when I was running down the track to the start, a car (full of parkrunners) drove really fast through a puddle and the water hit me with a wave- all the way from my head to my toes. I gave them a glare but they seemed totally oblivious to what they just did. Honestly, have some consideration. I tried sheltering under a tree but it was no good- and big drops from the tree were coming down too!

While I was stood at the start, one of my running friends came over (Louise). We used to run together on the Tuesday night runs, and I’d not seen her properly in ages, so we ran around together, having a lovely catch up – mainly talking about holidays! I love that about parkrun- you can bump into someone you’ve not seen for ages.

It did stop raining while we were running, but I was totally soaked by the time I got home, and spent the rest of the day inside. I was going to do some jobs in the garden but decided I’d had enough fresh air! Once Andy was home we had a speedy dinner and then headed out to pick up my dad as we were off to see Public Service Broadcasting perform in Aylesbury (at a really gorgeous venue by the way). If you don’t know them, they mainly use historical audio clips and put them to music- their album Race to Space has audio from the first moon landing etc (Go! is an amazing song- check them out on Spotify if you are interested as they are hard to describe). Anyway, the show was amazing, and nothing like any other gig I’d been to. They all wore white suits (which sounds very boyband) and were stood at the front in a horseshoe shape with all their keyboards, guitars, drums etc. They had a trio of brass instrument players who came on for various songs, and at one point some dancing astronauts came on. There were lasers and lights and videos on the big screens, and seeing them juggle all the instruments was so fascinating. Such a great evening.

Lunch in front of Taskmaster- mini Halloween dough bites from Crosstown, Public Service Broadcasting and the dancing astronauts, and of course pumpkin spiced mug!

On Sunday morning I made the mistake of looking on Strava and realised I was on 91 miles for October- “only” 9 more miles to make it 100 for the month….

The weather was awful- raining hard and windy, but I thought how bad can it be? I put on my waterproof and off I went. It was OK to begin with, and I decided to run along Cole Green lane (an old railway line) to avoid being splashed by cars. It was OK, but when I was about to turn around a huge branch (a good 3 feet long) fell down in front of me just ahead of where I was. It gave me a massive fright, and I decided to run back along the roads. Only when I came down off the path to the road (to the signposted “all weather route”) the road under the bridge was completely flooded- there was no way I was wading through that. So back I went. When I got closer to home I had to go under another underpass- on the way there was a big puddle by the entrance and I’d moved a big stick to balance on, but it had obviously rained so hard during my run that it was totally flooded. I ended up heading up to the road where thankfully there was a way to cross and rejoin the path on the other side. Of course, around half a mile from home the rain stopped and the sun came out. Typical!

But I couldn’t have delayed my run any more. My dad was coming by with his car, as we were doing a mini car swap ahead of a long one in a week’s time. (They have an electric car too, but with less range, so when they are going away further afield we are going to swap cars so I drive theirs to work, and they take ours on holiday). I was so nervous about it- even though I have driven theirs as a test drive, this would be different. We had a little practise together (eg I drove Dad’s car with him in the passenger seat helping, and then he drove our car) before he took ours home.  His is slightly more complicated but still way easier than a manual car, and I was much happier once I’d had another practise later in the afternoon.

I treated myself to watching Frozen in the evening, to continue the Disney magic right to the end of half term!

Are you happy to run in the rain? I don’t mind the rain, but I hate being cold, and often once you get wet you get cold and just can’t warm up again.

Tail walking and half marathon recovery

The Monday after the Brighton half was a busy one, as after work and a speedy dinner we drove up to Cambridge to see the Manic Street Preachers. After seeing Ash a few weeks before, I was looking forward to the music, and the band itself were amazing, but the crowd, less so. We were near the back, but despite the venue requiring masks, hardly anyone was wearing them, and people were really crowded in. A few people were friendly (one tall guy even apologised for standing in front of me, but I am used to listening and not seeing anyway, and there was nowhere else for him to stand). We had a few people near to us who were totally drunk and shoving into other people, falling over and even dripping beer on me, at which point Andy asked them to calm it down (we could not move anywhere else as it was so crowded). They got a bit aggressive and at one point the guy even shoved me, which totally shocked me. They were with a lady (not drunk) who saw and apologised, and tried to calm them down and sort of keep in between them and everyone else (it wasn’t just us that they were shoving into) but it did sort of ruin the concert a bit.

As we had a late night, I decided to run after work on the Tuesday instead of in the morning, which turned out to be a very good decision because it was gorgeous weather- the trees were looking beautiful.

A hot cross bun and tea was waiting for me after my shower- perfect.

Wednesday and Thursday mornings were back to the early morning starts- it’ so dark now and I’m not sure how long I’ll continue them for. I know that it will be dark in the evenings too, but the streets are so quiet first thing that it feels a bit spooky, whereas after work there are people at bus stops and more traffic about. Yoga on Wednesday evening was very much needed (I’m sure you’ve seen the meme of the tin man trying to do yoga- that’s me most weeks anyway) and the nidra at the end was the closest I’ve been to sleeping during it for a while!

On Saturday Andy had the car, and I’d volunteered to tail walk at parkrun. It’s one of my favourite roles, and so I was really looking forward to it. I’d seen earlier in the week that the new milestone t-shirts had gone live, meaning I could order my 50 volunteer top, but it didn’t arrive until Saturday morning (when I’d already left). Never mind, I kept my jacket on the whole time so it’s not as if anyone could see it!

Before we started I chatted to one of the other volunteers (who I found out on Sunday is also in OH ladies)- we both agreed that time keeping was super stressful having both done it once but not again. She was keen to try out a new role, and was going to be token scanning but in the end was moved to be handing them out.

I did feel a bit panicked when I was given a walkie talkie- I’d forgotten that side of the role! I had to radio in at each marshal point to keep the RD up to date with where we were. My shocking left and right knowledge scuppered me for a bit as I had to press the big button on the left, and spent ages wondering why it wasn’t working, only to realise I was pressing buttons on the right. Ooops. I also had a shocker when describing where I was (eg, there aren’t numbered points) so it was “I’ve just passed the marshal at the end of the cow field before the lakes”- and the worse one “I’m just coming up to the big wooden owl sculpture”- this is clearly a phoenix as it has flames all over it. He knew where I meant anyway!

At the back were two ladies walking together, one in a 200 marathon jacket and some Run Disney gear, so after a bit I got chatting to them- they were doing crazy challenges like running 8 marathons in 8 days, and one of them had done things like the Goofy Challenge (basically running all the Disney races over a weekend- with the marathon on the Sunday). I loved chatting to them. As we neared the end, the rain started, and then got torrential pretty quickly. I was so glad I’d worn my jacket (this was a last minute decision) but hadn’t packed a hat so I was having trouble seeing with all the rain streaming into my eyes.

I had to laugh by the time I got home as I was just dripping. Never mind, skin is waterproof and after a hot shower I felt fine. I had put a vegan croissant in the freezer (the Flourpot Bakery in Brighton makes amazing vegan chocolate coconut almond ones) and so I heated it up for breakfast. Perfect.

Disney hand cream and movie snack, Frozen 2 and my new 50 top

After some work and cleaning, I sat down to watch Frozen 2.

Sunday was rather grey and overcast, so I kept the run to a short 6 miles. Later in the afternoon we headed over to see Andy’s parents (trying to sort out a potential holiday- we were meant to be going to Disneyland Paris as a big group, but had cancelled as our niece’s passport hadn’t arrived in time so we were trying to work out what we could do if it arrived in the following week).

Then on to the final week of half term- always so busy with parents evenings added on top of everything else. I cut back on the runs, (4 miles on Tuesday and 3 on the Thursday) as I was feeling super tired. Now I’m not training for anything, running is just for the enjoyment/ fresh air/ mental health benefits, so no point in running loads if I’m feeling shattered. Yoga was on but I wasn’t home in time for it. We did have a movie night where we watched Muppet’s Haunted Mansion (about the scariest film I can cope with!), and then had a rather late night on the Thursday trying to pack (because in case you didn’t work it out, our trip managed to go ahead!).

Do you like scary films? Which volunteer roles do you enjoy the most/ least?

Brighton half 2021 and enjoying a weekend away

In times past, I would be in Brighton for the weekend several times a year- for the half marathon (usually in February) and the 10k (November time) but also maybe a last-weekend-of-the-summer-holidays trip, or a weekend in May for my birthday, or a long weekend over Easter…. this weekend we realised that we had not been down to Brighton for over a year.

We drove down on the Friday night- we did look at trains but there were the dreaded rail replacement buses on the Sunday- we got a Just Park driveway which was super easy.

Finish token, Brighton in the sunshine and acai bowl breakfast

Of course I could not resist going to parkrun. Hove Prom was the closest to our hotel (but only just)- it was heaving with people! Joe Wilkinson was marshalling and I spent a lot of the first lap wondering if I said something like “hey, you were really funny on The Last Leg” if he would then wonder if I didn’t think he was funny on Cats does Countdown…. so I just said “thank you marshal” as usual…

Andy picked us up some acai bowls for breakfast ready for when I got back, and then we went on a nice long walk to Hove and back. It was such a gorgeous day and so warm. I’d only packed thermal long sleeved tops (one for each day) and a sweatshirt, so I was boiling! That will teach me to pack lightly! In the end I changed into the t-shirt that I was going to wear for the race on the Sunday.

Of course we went to Bird & Blend- their strawberry lemonade iced tea is perfect on a warm day.

After a bit of a rest in the afternoon we went out for an evening walk (and came across a bakery piled high with vegan cinnamon buns, so of course had to buy one), and then we got a takeaway pizza from Purezza (100% vegan pizzeria and very delicious).

The race started at 9am, and they were asking people to turn up close to the start time (because of covid) which suited me fine. I was on time and then realised I’d forgotten my sunglasses (they are more comfy to run in than my normal glasses, and on the Saturday the glare from the sea made my eyes quite sore), so Andy kindly ran back to the hotel for me. This slight panic was not ideal but I was still in the pen 10 minutes before the start time (right behind Joe Wilkinson it turned out, although as soon as we started running he was off). It was a lot more spread out than usual, and I think I’d read that the capacity was about half the usual capacity to allow for more distancing. It was prompt to begin, and soon my wave were off. They did announce that everyone in my wave (2-2.15) was aiming to keep up with the 2 hour pacer, but I was definitely not one of those this year! My aim was to enjoy it, which I did.

There is always good crowd support in Brighton, but there were less people out on the course. There was one band (near to Hove) which moved from the road to the lawns so I heard them twice. I only saw the 4, 9, 10 and 11 mile markers, but I imagine that they were at every mile, and I didn’t look at my watch as I wanted to run on how I felt.  It was the traditional route of going east to Roedean, back to the centre, a loop of the centre (which I am sure is now bigger as you go further beyond the pavillion) and then west to Hove, before turning and coming back along the seafront. I decided I would try to keep the 2.15 pacer behind me, and managed to finish in 2:08:something so I was pleased with that.

The 9am start meant I had enough time to head back to the hotel for a shower before the midday checkout, and then we were off to get lunch from Leon. We actually sat inside – we chose a table right by the doors and not near any other tables, and it felt OK.

On our walk back to the car I got a pumpkin spiced latte from Bird &  Blend, and then we also passed a vegan doughnut shop so bought a couple to share once home (my first half with tea and Taskmaster- good recovery).

All in all so good to have a more normal feeling weekend.