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?

More Christmas lights runs, Winter Solstice and final preparations

So, onto the final full week of term before Christmas (although for lots of other schools it seemed they were finishing on the Friday). Yoga wasn’t on, so I went along to the Wednesday evening run again, as they were doing another Christmas lights trail run. The weather was better than last time, and I enjoyed it just as much as before.  Because I was back so late (I think 8pm, and then had to have a shower and dinner) I didn’t think an early run the next morning would be sensible, so I switched and did morning runs on Tues and Fri that week.

On the Friday after work I had booked a shoulder massage, although it wasn’t until well after work was locked up, so I went to get the car washed in the time in between (it’s on my way home and there was no point going home as then I would have had to turn around and head back anyway).

On Saturday, I’d suggested to Dad that we went to St Albans parkrun for a change. I’d not been there since 2017, and as it was where we started with parkrun it felt like a return was overdue. They have a new course now- it used to be run to the lake, 3 laps of the lake and then run back, but the paths by the lake kept flooding, and also the numbers got so big that they could not really accommodate that number of runners on such narrow paths.

The newer course is still 3 laps, but all on grass and slightly up and down. The corners were very sticky with mud and I was glad I’d worn trail shoes.

Before the start we were looking out for one of my dad’s friends who he had persuaded to come along. We didn’t see him, but I did get a “Dolly or Bev” from a fellow With Me Now listener, so we had a nice chat. The parkrun brass band were playing festive songs at the start and all the time that we were running, and loads of people were dressed in festive gear so it had a lovely atmosphere. At one point we were running behind a lady in a Christmas tree outfit and commented that if we wanted to be in the photos, that is where we should stay. I did laugh when I saw the pic (below) on their facebook page as the two of us were captured perfectly!

After we had finished running, we stood and listened to the band a bit more. We chatted to the WMN listener (Barnaby) and then Dad’s friend turned up- he had parked in the opposite end of the park so we hadn’t seen him as we’d been looking in the wrong direction.

In the afternoon I was off to get my hair cut, and then in the evening it was time for a Christmas classic, Elf.

I did a shortish run on Sunday of 6 miles, as I had lots of Christmas preparation to be getting on with- finishing making cakes, putting on marzipan and icing so they would be ready to be decorated, We did have a walk later on and came across this amazing post box topper covered in knitted birds. I am so impressed with these- how they make the 3D is just so brilliant.

In the evening we watched a new film, 8 Bit Christmas, which I quite enjoyed (it was a father recounting his 80’s childhood where him and some friends were all desperate to get some sort of Nintendo thing). Better than Love Hard (the name, a cross between Die Hard and Love Actually, was misleading as it was just another romantic comedy), which we watched the previous week.

Decoration twinning, final countdown, fab tags on the tea (sleighing it) and a Baby Yoda Christmas top. 

And so to the final few days of term. We had a little Christmas party (for the kids- literally an hour where they played musical statues and pin the nose on Rudolph- but they were all very excited) so I wore my Disney headband- twinning with my tree decoration! The teas in my advent calendar were keeping me going for the final push!

The Winter Solstice started with a run, and ended with lighting lots of candles. I love all of the traditions, and of course there’s lots of overlap with Christmas (let’s not get into why that is…), but the tradition of bringing in evergreen leaves into the home to remind us that nature is sleeping really resonates with me, and I do think we need to slow down at this time of year, although it can be harder to do that when people are rushing about doing Christmas preparations. I’d ordered some buns from Random Buns Of Kindness (a gorgeous vegan bakery) and so one was waiting for me when I got home too (well, two halves as we shared a toffee apple one and hazelnut truffle one).

And then the holidays were here!

I hope you had a good Christmas? Do you do anything to mark the winter solstice? 

Christmas runs and trying to get my booster

As you can see from the number on my tea advent, this post is from a while back! After the Festive Five run on the Sunday, it was another fairly normal week for me, with some morning runs and the last yoga before Christmas.

One morning was so frosty that I had to run very gingerly until I was out onto the main roads, as the pavements were super slippery and there isn’t always a grass verge.

As it was the final yoga before Christmas I opted for my Christmas leggings and my Disney Christmas sweater. Our yoga teacher put on some antlers after seeing me, but sadly they kept falling off in the class!

Saturday morning sunrise- the sunrise is so late now that in the week I’m driving to work before it comes up, so it’s lovely to see at the weekend.

I received my Magic Moon Club secret Santa- a Holly Jolly Christmas top and a lovely note from the secret person too. I love that the owner of the shop organises this as it spreads cheer around.

Onto the booster hunt. I’d originally booked by booster for the start of January, as I had my second one at the end of June, so this was 6 months later. However, when the government changed the rules (eg it could be 5 months after your second vaccination), earlier appointments became available, and with the number of cases at work just going up and up, I was keen to get mine as soon as possible (particularly as if you catch it, you can’t then have the booster for another month after). So I booked on for Thursday after work and Andy drove me up there. However, when I got there (past the car park marshals who checked your appointment, and past the people directing you to the building) the person on the door asked if I had an appointment (yes) and if it was 6 months since my second vaccination. Sadly, no. She then explained that the centre were not licensed to carry out the booster if it had been less than 6 months, and that they had been turning people away all day. I was not about to argue with a volunteer who had been stood outside in the cold all day, but it was frustrating to have rushed back from work (and been dreading the injection all day). They had explained that the government had changed the rules before informing the centres (and knowing how the gov have been with schools etc, I can very much sympathise with them on this). I couldn’t cancel the appointment as it had already happened (by the time I got home) but thankfully it let me book a new one. Anyway, this centre still appeared in available appointments, but I didn’t want to go back there again in case the same thing happened. There were hardly any places doing them, and none in WGC (a city…) at all, but there was a pharmacy in a nearby village, so I booked that for the Sunday evening. I rang up a couple of times to check that they would do it for me, but there was never an answer, so in the end I looked up walk in places and decided to go to one on Saturday, as there were no other walk in centres that didn’t fall in work hours for the next few weeks.

With Me Now video, parkrun start, tea by the Christmas tree and my finish token

So, I went to Jersey Farm parkrun with dad, but then drove straight home after, had a quick shower and breakfast and then went to join the queue. I thought it would be long, but I had no idea and really should have taken headphones with me. Andy had dropped me off but in the end came and stood with me in the queue to keep me company. It was freezing, and later on started raining too. In the end I queued for 2 and a half hours before getting inside. Also there was a guy in cycling shorts and a vest, and that was all. And it was freezing– no idea how he stood outside for so long. Someone had checked ID and vaccine cards at the start of the queue, but when I got inside they asked me the same question of was it 6 months since my second one. When I explained that the person at the start of the queue said it was OK (as did the NHS website) he went to check and came back and said it was OK, but I did have a mild panic at that point. Later I noticed a sign with the dates of second vaccines on it, and I was OK as I was past that.

I dread having injections (I used to be OK as a child, but then had one injection as a teen where I fainted, and since then have fainted a few times, so I always worry that it will happen again)- usually I just have to psych myself up once a year (for the flu jab) but now I’ve had 4 in a year! Anyway, it was actually OK. The guy taking my details was really friendly (he loved my surname and asked me if I was married to John Wick- the nurse doing the injection didn’t understand his banter at all!). My arm felt sore and I felt really tired, so spent the rest of the afternoon watching videos (catching up on With Me Now parkrun videos), going to bed at about 9pm.

In the morning we had arranged to meet Andy’s parents for a walk around Ellenbrook. It was lovely to walk there, and I felt OK (I felt sad for parkrun no longer being there though), so when I got home I decided to try a run. The penguin Christmas decoration this year has been in Hatfield, so I ran there to take a photo (I was going to take a photo of it after my injection as where I got the booster from was right by the penguin, but I forgot). I got a little bit lost in the town centre, and then a passer by took pity on me as I attempted to get the penguin in my selfie (I just cannot line things up at all) so she offered to take a photo of me which worked out much better.

Me with the penguin, then a snowman/penguin/who knows, breakfast and the penguin again. 

I ended up running nearly 8 miles which probably wasn’t the best idea seeing as how tired I’d been the day before, and I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling shattered. This feeling lasted into the next week too- it could well have been end of term tiredness too, as the end was approaching, but I am sure the booster added to it.

I was relieved to get my booster, particularly as the numbers at work went up even more the following week.

Have you had your booster yet? Do you have some nice decorations near you?