The end of half term, a parkrun sandwich, Garmin trouble and a spot of decorating

No, not an actual sandwich, but a sandwich of a run.

But first, the end of half term. I love being able to go for a run when I fancy it. On Wednesday I went for a short run in the morning.

If I run (or walk) into town, I pass this Mr Bagels factory, and it smelled amazing this week (cinnamon raisin day)!  Much better than the dog biscuit factory that I can sometimes smell. Anyway, later on the same day, I ended up driving behind a car with the reg B4GEL- Mr Bagel himself perhaps???

I enjoyed a lovely 8 mile run one morning this week (Thursday?). The sun even came out for a bit. I ran down to the lake which I haven’t done for ages, and it was great to see all the birds swimming about.

I had some friends over and in the afternoon we walked to the local park so their kids could play on the equipment- it was a bit colder and I wished I had worn my hat- the run in the morning filled me with false hope about the weather.

After a walk into town on Friday to buy new paintbrushes, and sanding it all down, I started to paint all the woodwork upstairs. Since decorating the bedroom and my office, the new whiter bits have really made the old paint look very yellow.

Annoyingly I ran out of blue tape (and I had even seen some in B&Q but decided not to buy any as I thought I had a whole roll). I managed to do most of it, but it needed a second coat.

Our driveway is still mainly blocked because of the waterworks, so after some deliberating I decided to switch my long run to Saturday, and try out running to Panshanger parkrun- it’s slightly closer at 4 miles versus the 5 miles to Ellenbrook, and when you are running there and back, plus the parkrun, those two miles make a difference.

Kit at the ready- making the most of my 50 top now as I am nearing my 100th parkrun.

Someone had posted a discussion about their long run plans on our running club facebook group, and I mentioned that it was my plan to run to parkrun, and one of my friends (Louise) messaged to say she would be at an exercise class near me in the morning, and would like to join me.

We met at the entrance to the old railway line, and from there it’s about 3.5 miles. I had not seen her for a while so it was great to catch up.

We got to the parkrun with about 10 minutes to spare, which was just about right (if we arrived a few minutes late they would let us go as we would catch the tail runner, but it would make us both feel a bit more stressed). We ran the parkrun starting near the back, so a lot of stop/starting at first as it is narrow, and finished at 33.09 for my 97th parkrun (and Louise’s 27th- she is aiming to get to 50 this year).

We then walked a bit (you have to cross the dual carriageway and then the path was very busy with runners walking back to their cars), and then ran more slowly on the way home, stopping at the top of a few of the hills. When I loaded it onto Strava I had seen another running friend had run to Luton parkrun and back, and called it a “parkrun sandwich”- I told him I was stealing that name as it described perfectly what the run was.

We then had a breakfast of toasted hot cross buns- so good. After walking into town again to get more blue tape, Andy helped me with a second coat of pain (plus a first coat to the bits I had missed off on Friday). The preparation for decorating is what I don’t like- sanding it, hoovering, wiping down walls, putting down the tape- it all takes so long and is so fiddly. It only took us a couple of hours to paint it all for the second coat, although after a while I felt I was going “snow blind” and could not tell where I had painted and where needed doing. And of course now the banisters look yellow, so we will need to work our way downstairs next- one job leads to another….

My Garmin is getting on a bit now- I have had it since 2012, so it’s doing pretty well. Now it likes to do this- I plug it in to the computer, and it starts charging, but it won’t sync- the message on the screen tells me to plug it in, but I know it is plugged in because it begins to charge. I have to spend ages (sometimes 2 mins, sometimes 10) doing and un-doing the clip, sliding the little metal bits around a bit until another box pops up to tell me that the Garmin is then connected. It’s very annoying! I am sure there are some that connect via bluetooth, so I think when I need to replace it (which won’t be long as the strap is breaking a bit too, and it is on it’s second charger as the first one broke) I will look for one that has that as a feature.

Later on I had a message on Strava saying I had lost my course record on one of the Strava splits- it is a bit of a random one as it cuts through a housing estate instead of following a main road- it’s 0.7 miles uphill and my time was 7.43- it’s funny looking down the list of people as pretty much all the ladies are from my running cub- it must be a route that we do a lot. But the person who now owns (?) it is not a name I know, and she stormed ahead with a time of 7.26- way ahead of me! I hardly ever look at these things on Strava but I do like stats, although you can get lost clicking through from one thing to another.

I have to mention right now that we have started to re-watch the series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which if you need cheering up is just the perfect thing. We’ve been watching a lot of dark things recently (Case- an Icelandic crime drama, and then we are part way through Vis a Vis, a Spanish prison drama- another one of the Walter Presents series) and we just needed something lighthearted and happy. Even the theme tune is brilliant.

On Saturday evening we realised that our boiler had stopped working- we had a problem with it back in October, which turned out to be the fan jamming. Luckily back then we got the immersion heater hooked up again (as the previous people had disconnected it). On Sunday morning I had a short run (finishing in Morrison’s as I wanted some cornflour for a recipe) and then thankfully there was some hot water waiting for me. (Someone came out to look at the boiler and it is the fan again, so this time we are getting it replaced). I then had to walk to B&Q yet again (I feel like I have been partly living there this week) as we were putting up some pictures and needed masonry nails- and of course they were out of stock! Ah well, lots of fresh air which is always good.

To warm up I made myself a matcha latte using Bluebird tea rooibos matcha which I love a lot more than green matcha. I have the honey with rooibos matcha in it, and this powder tastes like that – sweet and earthy.

I did make a right mess though as you were meant to whizz up the powder with a little milk first, before adding the warmed milk- there was not quite enough milk with the powder so it went everywhere!

I made these little Swedish almond and strawberry bites on Sunday afternoon, from the Fika and Hygge baking book. There was a slight jam explosion in the oven, but once left to cool they seemed OK although I should have copied the photo and put the flaked almonds around the edge instead of all over the top.

Somehow I have run 42 miles this week (partly because I did my long Sunday run on Monday morning, so it’s into a new week), and with Brighton half next weekend I will be taking it slightly easier. I am not sure what our club run will be on Tuesday (they are getting longer as lots of people are marathon training) but I will be only going on a very short run on Thursday.

Which smells do you love walking/running past? One of my runs went past two different Simmons bakeries, and that smell first thing in the morning is pretty delicious. Where I used to live I ran past KFC quite a lot, and I am not a fan of the oily smell. Mr Bagels is pretty high on my list though!

Any Garmin recommendations? I like that mine is simple to use, so if I could just add Bluetooth it it then that would be fab.

Which TV series have you been watching lately? I have also been enjoying It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia- you need a certain sense of humour to enjoy it, but I just laugh the whole way through.

Do you like looking at number plates?  A weird one but I always like to look at the numbers and see patterns or add them up. I saw one today M15 1 SPY, and I did think if you were really in MI5 I don’t think they would let you have that as your number plate. Although it could be a double bluff…

A half marathon training run, a numb hand and a giant tub of peanut butter

As we were away on Sunday morning, I did my long run on Monday instead.

I wanted it to be my longest run before the Brighton half in 2 weeks, and decided that I should run 13 miles. Last year I had run 15 miles before, but I was aiming for under 2 hours. This year I am going to enjoy it, and not worry about the time (I am in the 2-2.15 pen this time) so I thought that 13 would be far enough. I knew that from the start of Ellenbrook parkrun to home was 5 miles, so I went a slightly roundabout way of getting there. I had a bit of a rest here (after 8 miles)- took some pictures and replied to some messages before heading home again. It was cold, but the sun had come out and I was very thirsty by the end. I had taken off my jacket, but then as I turned the wind was very cold and I ended up wearing it for the way home.

I had packed a cereal bar in my belt (a lovely pumpkin one from Rude Health) but I didn’t fancy it. A mile from home I ran through the town centre, and so Starbucks tempted me in- the thought of a nice cold drink was enough to get me to have a little break.

I went for an iced drink and then bought a cinnamon swirl for later (it is sort of a tradition after running a half marathon now)- running the mile home with the ice cold drink was not good though, and even though I kept swapping hands, I ended up with numb fingers!

On Monday afternoon I was visiting a friend- we had a lovely walk along a canal and had tea and cake in a cafe, before walking back along the canal- the perfect way to stop my legs from getting stiff, although there was a lot of traffic on my drive home so I was a bit stiff by the end of the drive.

On Tuesday I did a lot of pottering around at home, cleaning, washing, sorting, and walked into town. In Holland and Barrett I spied this huge tub of peanut butter- I love the Pip and Nut stuff but the little jars are fairly expensive- this is more more economical, and easier to dip dates into as well.

Later I met Andy in town as Starbucks were doing buy one get one free on hot chocolates (he went for a Frappacino which was a much better option in hindsight as my hot choc was really quite disappointing compared to their normal one), and I made him some cookies. We don’t do Valentine’s day (I would much rather celebrate our birthdays than a “Hallmark holiday”) but as I was home it was good to be able to meet up, as if I was at work I wouldn’t be able to.

Annoyingly, the water pipes in our road are being replaced. There was a sign up at the end of the road and we got a letter through last week saying it was due to start on Monday, but then the sign went away. Sadly (I mean, it will be good in the long run, but it is so annoying right now) the diggers came and blocked our cars in our driveway on Wednesday afternoon.

I’d been out visiting friends, and had a lot of fun doing a many point turn to inch past the red fence and squeeze on to the driveway. Not sure how I am going to get my car back out again though…

It is slight chaos because the whole end of the road is coned off, and the road is on a bend, and so when you start to go you can’t see if any cars are coming. Lots of people usually park in the street too, so they have all had to park elsewhere (or like in the photo, just park on the pavement).

Do you have set routes for running or do you make them up as you go along? Since moving I still have not quite sorted my routes yet, and sometimes what I think will be 4 miles will be more like 2.5, and at other times they are much longer! Have you bought any bargains recently? Do you do anything for Valentine’s day? I did like all the posts about Galentine’s Day (taken from the excellent show Parks and Rec), although I didn’t manage a brunch on that day, I have had some lovely catch ups with friends this week.

A weekend in Nottingham (more parkrun tourism, pancakes, snow, cinema..)

Hey peeps! Guess what? Half term is here!

On Friday I went straight from work to the train station- we had booked train tickets from Bedford to Nottingham (and can go straight from St Albans to Bedford), so we could see the Light Night. It was actually very disappointing- Andy had downloaded a map of where everything was, but it turned out a lot of the things were only in the afternoon and not the evening. There were some bonfires in some places, and a lot of food stalls by the main square, but the few things we saw were not that great (a KA filled with a few fairy lights). But still, we had a good wander and it was good to stretch the legs after sitting on the train for a couple of hours.

On Saturday morning I was off to Forest Rec parkrun. There are a few parkruns in Nottingham, but this was the most central. I had originally planned to run there, as it was about 1.5 miles from our hotel, but I was not 100% of the directions, and the tram went straight to by the parkrun (the Forest stop).  I was checking their facebook page as they had posted on Friday night about checking for ice in the morning, but I had left by the time they posted to say it was on. I had figured that I could always just run around the park if it was cancelled. I left plenty of time to get the tram- it was only a 10 minute journey at most, and they were every 10 minutes, but I needed time to buy a ticket from the machines and read the signs many times to check I was going in the right direction- it turned out to be very simple though- just like the underground, each stop was announced and also scrolled across the screen so I could keep double checking where I was.

When I got there (not very early, around 8.45 I think) there were a few volunteers but hardly any runners. It was snowing (but not settling on the ground) so maybe people stayed in their cars for as long as possible. But just before 9 there was suddenly a huge crowd of people (185 in fact). It gave me time to read the information sign (it used to be a park for horse racing- you could sort of see it as it was long and wide, on a slope, so you could guess where the grandstand was).

The course sounded very complicated from the new runners briefing (we were even shown a map, which I like, but generally confuses me more)- but basically you started in the centre of a circle, ran out to the edge of the circle, completed two clockwise loops of the circle, and then retraced your steps back to the centre. finishing in the opposite direction to how to started, but in the same place.

The first part of each loop was flat, and around football pitches- quite muddy in places (and also with these weird yellow brush things sticking out of the grass), but nice and flat.

The second part of each loop was mainly uphill, with switch backs across various paths- so the ground was easier to run on, but it was very steep in places. At least you only had to do it twice. The final bit of the loop was a lovely downhill, although again very steep and because of the snow I was careful (partly because the snow sticks to my glasses and makes it harder to see, but also because the pavements were a little slippy).

I didn’t get lapped (I think I am unlikely to be lapped at a two lap route as if I finish in around 30, a person running it in 15 minutes would be finishing as I begin my second lap) but as I ran up on the middle of the second loop, you could look down to the right and see the finish straight, and people were already thundering towards the finish. Impressive stuff.

I didn’t look at my watch at all, and so when I got home I was pleased to see a royal flush negative split- 9.34, 9.21, 9.20, 7.57 (for the final sprint!). Position 121, 29.11, for my 96th parkrun and my 15th UK course.

I took a few photos of people finishing as I headed back to the tram stop.

And one of me with the finishers in the background.

I was trying to get the snow in the picture too, but it didn’t really come out.

I also tried to capture the steep hill, but of course that never works either! Kudos to all the marshals who were out in that weather- I do always say thanks as I run past, and one of them said “you guys are doing the hard work”- I had no breath back to reply, but I really feel that standing about in the cold is so much worse than running!

I stopped to get a hot drink in town before going back to shower, and then we were off out for breakfast- the best bit!

Mmm, Bill’s pancakes and a bit pot of tea- so good (and the tea was free thanks to paying with the Bill’s app- even better!). The snow had changed to rain as it had warmed up slightly, so after a wander around the shops was walked up to the arboretum, as I had passed that on the tram earlier and thought it might be nice.

It was cold and wet- not the best weather for enjoying outside. We only fancied a small lunch so ended up sharing a wrap (some sort of beetroot one- very tasty) and a piece of lemon and raspberry cake (this was an amazing combination).

We saw some snowdrops! Spring is hopefully on the way.

We’d booked an early dinner at Jamie’s Italian as we had a voucher, and then had booked cinema tickets to see the Lego Batman movie, so after warming up in our hotel room for a bit, we headed out for the evening.

The film was really good- I liked the first Lego movie anyway, and as a fan of Arrested Development, the combination of Will Arnett and Michael Cera was good enough to keep me laughing. There seemed to be a lot of jokes about old Batman movies (who knows which ones I have seen) but not knowing them didn’t make it any less funny. I heard some reviews where people were saying some of the jokes would go over kids heads, but there were some children in the cinema with us and they pretty much didn’t stop laughing the whole way through. This isn’t a spoiler, but what amused me so much was every time someone was shooting a gun, the noise was someone saying “pew, pew”.  Anyway, good fun and more lighthearted than our last cinema trip (T2).

The next morning it was raining a lot- we went to Starbucks for a quicker breakfast, before going around the shops for a bit.

This lovely cafe (Homemade- which also had a cafe at the parkrun park) had so many amazing varieties (you can see the lemon and raspberry on the right) so we got a piece of blueberry cake to have at home. The train home was at lunch time, so we bought some bits and listened to the film podcast on the way back. All good (apart from the fact that we forgot to turn the heating back on until we were about to drive back from the station, so it was only 12C at home- brrrr!

All in all, a great start to half term, even if the weather was a bit rubbish!

Where do you like to go for a weekend break? What are you looking forward to seeing in the cinema? I think Hidden Figures looks really good, so I am hoping to see that once it is released. Have you seen any signs of spring? Some of the daffodils have started to appear and it won’t be long before they are flowering.

Cake

So this week we finally finished the Christmas cake. I am quite impressed that we managed to make it last into February.

It was a busy week – I managed a run one evening and one morning, I had a course all day, plus a twilight  session (which meant a later start, but a later finish). I also had two parents evenings, so I missed yoga and our running club run. But half term will be here in a few hours, so it’s all good.

After work today I am going straight to the station as we are off to Nottingham to see the Light Night. Hopefully I will manage to get to a parkrun on Saturday, although it may involve getting a tram – I will be looking for lycra and high viz stuff so I know where to get off!

Any weekend plans? Are you good at using public transport?

A muddy parkrun and keeping my fingers crossed

This week’s parkrun of choice was Ellenbrook Fields. With the recent bit of rain, both Ellenbrook and Panshanger are muddy ones, but Ellenbrook is much flatter and probably the less muddier of the two as it is generally wider, so easier to find a less muddy route.

I was planning on running a mile beforehand to warm up (half a mile from the car park to the start, and then up and down the taxi-way until the start) but I ended up seeing an OH lady (she was chip scanning) so we chatted for a bit instead. It was so cold- I’d taken my long sleeved top with me at the last minute, to wear at the end, but I ended up keeping it on the whole time. Some of the puddles had big bits of ice in them- I wasn’t expecting that as this week has been fairly mild.

I saw another runner (Denise- our OH runner of the year) – she is usually a bit faster than me so I decided to try and keep her in sight and see how fast I could go.

It was very muddy- I was trying to dodge the puddles but after about a mile ended up putting my whole foot in (ankle deep)- cold wet feet for the rest of the run!

I had no idea how fast I was going as I had left my watch on from the warm up (I prefer to leave it running rather than stop-start it, as then Strava takes out all the still bits, plus my watch is a bit ropey now and does not always save things properly if I fiddle about), but as we ran through the cow field (about half way, or a mile to go possibly) I overtook Denise. I did wonder if I was going too fast, but I felt OK so pushed on. After the cow field there is the “water feature”, which is where the track narrows (between fences) and dips down- it’s really boggy there, and then afterwards you run slightly uphill, and it lulls you into a false sense of security as you think the mud and bogs are behind you, but then you realise that what looks like a rutted field is actually more bog. (It’s also where I fell over on the Sweatshop run years ago and gave myself a black eye and scraped all the skin off my shoulder).

At this stage you then run past heaps of gravel (?) from the old quarry, and again the path was basically a giant puddle with smaller and more boggy puddles around the edge. By this point I had given up avoiding the water and was just trying to not slip over. I passed the final marshal (with a tambourine- I love that they have instruments here!) and then onto the taxiway. I think it’s about half a mile from there to the finish, and you can sort of see it as it’s so straight. I glanced at my watch then and saw 8.08- then I spent some time wondering if I had selected current or average pace, and then I tried to pick up my pace a bit. I ended up counting to 100 in my head, and then again (I think I got up to 40).

A few runners who had finished were walking the other way and cheering us along, and there is always a big crowd of marshals at the finish- last week they slightly changed the finish so it’s straight on instead of a sharp right turn, so they were all shouting to keep going to the end of the line and not stop where the flags were as that was just showing the way. It felt good to stop!

Even when I finished I didn’t know how fast I had  gone- it felt fast but also the mud makes it hard, and your legs feel tired so it’s hard to gauge.

After getting my token scanned I jogged the long way around back to the car, so in the end I did about 4.5 miles. I had taken shoes with me to change into for the drive home, but I should have also packed spare socks- they were so soggy.

I think I need to get some dark coloured running socks, as the mud never seems to properly come out of them either.

When I plugged in my Garmin, it told me I had achieved a segment “PR” for the parkrun course, but I had to wait and see for the official results!

4 segment PR’s including 27.03 for the parkrun course (my previous pb was 27.16 which I got at the start of August). The email came through a bit later telling me I had a new shiny pb of 27.06! Hooray!  My all time 5k pb is 26.29, but from St Albans in 2013, so I didn’t know if I could get close to that With less mud, I think I can! I’ve looked at my results and I think that is my fourth fastest time, as I also ran 26.50 and 27.05 at St Albans. (In fact, it is, as I just worked out you can sort by time on your parkrun table. I also have run 27.12 three times and 27.16 twice, and then my eyes went funny looking at all the numbers and I had to stop).

When I was looking through the results, I saw this running club name- Derek Zoolander school for kids who can’t run good. Best running club name! (Also seen- Pirate ship of fools, and 5K fairweather runner support group). A few runners were wearing the cow cowl, adding Ellenbrook to their tourist list.

I had a lot of work to get through, and then I went for a back and shoulder massage (my incentive to get it all done)- this was very much needed! Later my dad and brother picked me up and we visited my sister, as she had just had a baby on Friday (Mum had been with her for most of the day)- I don’t think I have ever held a baby so young before. I am so used to seeing our niece (on Andy’s side) who is coming up to a year old now, so it was strange holding someone so teeny and fragile (with such a floppy head). So lovely though, and my dad was of course over the moon (as she is his first grandchild).

On Sunday morning I had a shorter run in the fog- I did an out and back for 7 miles. Around half way my leg started to feel stiff- I got this in the Brighton 10 miles and during a few long runs since then- all that seems to help is stopping and stretching. I did a lot of yoga stretches when I got home to try and help.

While we were having breakfast we saw that the fox had come back in to our garden again (right in the middle at the back of the garden). Seeing them in the middle of the day is a bit weird- I was thinking about how I would react if I saw one up close when I was running- I’ve seen them from a bit of a way away, but as someone who is nervous of dogs, a wild fox would rather terrify me if it came close.

Later today we are off to the cinema- the perfect activity for a cold and cloudy day.

What is the best running club name you have seen? Do you have some times that you keep on getting at parkrun? Do you mind the mud? I don’t, but I really should pack a towel in my car to sit on for the drive home!