Christmas Eve and Christmas Day parkruns!

It’s always a bonus at this time of year when we get more than one parkrun each week. As Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, it meant that we could do two in a row if teams put them on.

My chosen pair of parkruns was Jersey Farm on Christmas Eve, and then Panshanger on Christmas Day. Panshanger feels like a tradition for Christmas Day for me now- it’s the only one I’ve been to on Christmas, both running and volunteering. I can run there from home so it’s perfect to not have to worry about busy car parks, traffic or things like that.

The weather played ball on both days, with sunshine on Christmas Eve. I forgot to take a photo of my finish token, something which is a bit of a habit/superstition with me (for example, if they have an issue with results I can then at least know whereabouts I finished). The text came through though so I needn’t have worried.
After breakfast at my parents, I headed off to pick up Andy as we had ordered some buns from the amazing vegan cafe in Letchworth (Vutie Beets), and they were shutting at 3. A gingerbread bun was enjoyed in front of some classic Christmas movies (Home Alone).
The three of us trying to do a selfie, running through the woods on the way, at the end, and my barcode pic.
I wore my Christmas hat on Christmas day but it was really mild and I was too hot- I basically carried it and then put it on for a photo at the end! It marked the end of the Run Up 2 Christmas challenge. I managed 140km in the end, which included some walks (I started tracking walks in the snow as I couldn’t run). Our team did really well as we didn’t have a huge number of members. I really enjoyed this, as sometimes at this time of year going out for a run isn’t that appealing, but you know you will feel better for it.
Back to parkrun, my Dad and brother met me at Panshanger which was lovely- nice to run around with them and enjoy the bonus parkrun. I’d run there through the woods, listening to my Christmas Spotify playlist and generally feeling very cheerful.
Once home and showered I had a Christmas Day bun while watching the With Me Now, including an appearance of PSH!

I also had a look on the app and appear to have achieved single-ton (100 visits to a single parkrun) but in fact this includes volunteer visits, so I have 13 runs to go before I officially achieve this. (The app is great but the running achievement chrome extension is the only one with “official” challenges that I will count).

After all the runs leading up to Christmas, I had a few days off running. We had a lovely walk another day with my parents and were lucky enough to see a kingfisher for ages (diving into the water, sitting on reeds and even on the fence). My mum took this amazing photo of it- the colours are just so beautiful.
We watched Glass Onion (thoroughly enjoyed it) and generally chilled out. Plus the final bun (chocolate orange). It’s probably a good thing that the cafe is not closer to home!

We were off to DLP for New Year, so no parkrun double (or even single) for me over that weekend, so that marked the end of 2022 parkruns for me, and what a great way to finish the year.

Festive Five 2022

The first Sunday in December, a local running club hosts the Festive Five, a five mile race close to the town centre. Everyone wears festive gear, it has a great feel to it, and this year it perfectly coincided with our club’s Christmas brunch.

It’s one of those fab small, relaxed races where you collect your number in the morning, there’s a small gazebo/tarp for bag drop, and so there is no need to rush or stress. I ran there is it was less than 2 miles away so it’s the perfect warm up, plus I had started the Run up 2 Christmas as part of the With Me Now patreons team, and needed to start totting up the miles for our team target.

Compared to how mild it was the previous week at the Hatfield 5, it felt freezing that morning. I’d wrapped up in a long sleeved top and then my (not at all ugly) Christmas vest, long leggings, buff for my neck and gloves, but I didn’t ever get too warm when running.

Festive running gear on, delicious vegan pancakes, my chocolates and the regular Santa from the finish, and of course tea to warm up with in the afternoon.

Lots of our club were there, and running it was just great fun as all the marshals dress up too, and give festive cheers (including one person who shouted at me “go little elf girl” as I ran past!

I finished in just under 50 minutes, so slower than the Hatfield 5, but this race is not flat whereas Hatfield 5 is, and I was just happy to enjoy it.

After we finished, the few of us heading straight to brunch walked into town and met the rest of our club in Megan’s for vegan pancakes (excitingly these are on the main menu and you don’t even need to ask to see a different menu or anything). It took ages to warm up after though- I had packed a hat and an extra layer in my bag drop bag, but the walk home after was very chilly.

Sadly this year they didn’t have a vegan option at the finish- you usually get a chocolate Santa but in previous year there have been a vegan option, so I popped into Holland & Barrett to get some vegan chocolate to enjoy in front of the fire to warm up in the afternoon.

Leavesden Country parkrun to reclaim Queen of Herts

We’ve not had a new parkrun in Herts for ages, and there was much excitement when Leavesden popped up a few weeks ago.

I would of course be travelling there with Dad. We were in no rush to head to the first one, and anyway had plans (his 250th venue had already been chosen) so we were there for event 4 in November.

Listened to With Me Now in the week I heard that Danny, the presenter, would be heading there, which also meant lots of listeners were heading there too. We’d already arranged it so it was a happy coincidence and of course I had to wear my WMN cooldown hoodie.

I had seen a few posts on their facebook page regarding parking, and chose the main car park as the postcode for the satnav, but it turned out to be OK and not too busy when we arrived at 8:30. I think by then the tourists had died down a bit, meaning they didn’t have such huge numbers as in their first few weeks.

The starting field was full of With Me Now merch, and I got to say hi in real life to a few running insta friends (Hi Branka and Holly) which was lovely.  The venue has everything you could need- parking on site, a lovely looking cafe (plus toilets), a playground and lots of interesting sculptures linking back to the history of the park in aviation.

The course was three laps, going around playing fields and then through woods. There is one narrow part where you meet runners in the other direction (almost like the middle part of a figure of eight) so you were asked to not overtake in this section, but it was only a few metres long so it’s easy to wait until after if you were in that position. It isn’t flat, but not hilly either, just a bit undulating. I think trail shoes might be better in winter but at that time the ground was fairly firm and the muddiest part was the field in the start/finish area. I don’t always like lapped routes, but as each lap was varied I really enjoyed it and was quite surprised as we came into the finish.

At the finish, Danny was chatting to someone else about lovely Ellenbrook Fields, so we joined in with the chatting and I asked for a photo. Last time I met him (at Kingdom parkrun) I chatted to him but felt a bit awkward asking for a photo, and regretted that as he always says on the pod that he’s happy for photos. Of course, I am not looking at the camera in the photo, but at least my eyes are open!

Of course I got a picture with Dad too, to commemorate our visit and to celebrate Queen of Herts once again!

That was my 90th different parkrun venue- gradually chasing down the Cowell!

How many parkrun events have you been to? Does your region have any good names? I quite like Champshire for completing all the parkruns in Hampshire! 

October bits and bobs

After the Royal Parks half, I was back to just ticking over with running and yoga, with walking thrown in for good measure. I was at Panshanger parkrun twice- once as a parkwalker and once as a gentle run the day before the half (although that turned out to be the alternative route when the cows are in the main field so you have another steep hill to contend with- every other time I’ve either been somewhere else or been volunteering!).

Shed pieces in the garden, broken plug, car tyre check

October seemed to be a time for additional life admin that needed doing- we had ordered a shed to be put up but when they came to put it up, the base (that had been put down previously) wasn’t 100% level so they had to leave it- we then had to store the shed in the garden in pieces, while getting someone to fix the base, and trying to keep it dry. Cue massive tarp and a few struggles while the two of us moved it off the base so the person could fix it. I dropped my hair straighteners and the third pin sheared off. Upon closer inspection it was just a placeholder pin, with no earth or wires in it (the actual plug was like an electric toothbrush charger with only 2 pins), so I found a replacement online and thankfully they work. And then the joys of the tyre pressure light coming on- after pumping them up a few times I took it to a garage and they found a massive nail in there, but could not repair it right away so that was a fun few days!

October running was very enjoyable- after doing the half I could just run distances that I fancied, although I do have Brighton in Feb so will need to ramp back up the miles before Christmas really.

Pancakes, Bambi, With U app and fab Disney pod

I discovered a fantastic podcast called Disniversity, where the two hosts talk about each animated Disney movie. Some I have not seen (I saw the start of Bambi when I was a child but then my sister was sick so we had to leave the cinema).  I’ve watched a few that I’ve not seen since being a child (such as Sword in the Stone) but have so far avoided the creepiness of Pinnochio- I cannot bear to watch that again!

The With Me Now pod mentioned the With U app, as it is linked to parkrun (a sponsor I think?) and they have some free workouts. I have completed a few of the fartlek sessions and quite enjoyed them.

October finished with half term- a family weekend at DLP and then a trip to Norfolk including some parkrun tourism, so I’ll keep that for a separate post.

How was your October? 

parkwalking at parkrun!

As you know, I absolutely love parkrun and would really encourage anyone to go along. There is always a tail walker, so you will never finish last, but I think the worry of being near the back still puts people off.

Enter the parkwalk initiative! Initially for their birthday month of October, it now seems set to stay which I think is fantastic. I was at Panshanger a lot during September and October (3 in September and 2 in October) and on one of those days I volunteered at parkwalker. I ran there and back for my usual parkrun sandwich.

Moving my plait so you can see the writing on the back!

When I arrived it turned out I was the first person to put on the new blue bib! There was a prompt card to look at- basically my job was to walk around the course, chat to other walkers and stay ahead of the tail walker. Much easier than the tail walker role as at Panshanger the tail walker has a walkie-talkie and has to check in with the RD at various points and also collect up signs and cones.

A few of my club mates were doing the London marathon the day after, so they had come along to walk as well, and so it turned out to be a really great occasion.

I walked with one of my club mates (Nicola), while a few others walked a bit quicker ahead of us.

It helped that it was a gorgeous day, and Panshanger park was looking glorious in early autumnal sunshine. But it was wonderful to walk around and chat. We stayed fairly far ahead of the tail walker, getting to the end in 53 minutes with the tail walker finishing at 57 minutes. I think this would encourage people to walk, as we did not have the feeling that the event was being closed down as we passed.

I have seen some negative comments online regarding the time that volunteers will be out for, but as the park walkers need to keep ahead of the tail walker I don’t think this will be an issue. The more we can encourage people to be active and enjoy outdoor spaces, the better.

Have you taken part in parkwalk?