Lee Valley half marathon 2017- running with my dad

As I have mentioned before, I had signed up to run the Lee Valley half marathon on Sunday. The main reason was that my dad decided he wanted to run a half marathon. I had suggested a lot of different ones to him, and in the end this one ticked the boxes- local so we could go there on the morning, late enough in spring so that he would have time after his holiday to train, an interesting sounding route, and he would be allowed to raise money for a charity of his choice. He had run a half marathon before when he was younger (the Berkhamsted half for anyone local, although back then it was two laps so the awful mile long steep hill was repeated) but had really struggled and not enjoyed it at all.

He has been keeping me updated on his training (and our family via his Just Giving Page- raising money for MNDA as his cousin has recently been diagnosed)- he’s been sensible as he has a slight ligament issue (he had around a year when he couldn’t even run a parkrun as his knee had to heal, he had to give up tennis because of the twisting and turning, and now he runs with a knee brace the whole time) and also he does a lot of cycling so was making sure to have rest days and not run long the day after a long bike ride. He’d managed an 18k run a week and a half ago, a bit later than he had planned because he’d had a virus, and although he’d completed it he had to walk sections of the final few km. I felt like that was plenty but he was a bit apprehensive on the morning of the race.

I had toast for breakfast, and even put on suncream as it was already very sunny. Dad picked me up just after 8am and drove to the water park. Lee Valley is where the water sports were held in the Olympics, and now it is used as a sports venue for white water rafting and kayaking. There are also miles of pathways by rivers and canals, lots of bird spotting hides and picnic areas. We had to park on a field but as it was so dry this wasn’t an issue. It was a short walk to the main building- the reception was downstairs and there were clear signs directing you upstairs to the cafe and sun terrace, where you could collect your number.

It was a gorgeous morning for a race – sunny but quite chilly first thing. We had to collect our numbers in the morning and that was very easy with about a 5 minute queue, and then we waited outside on the terrace looking out across the fields and waterways. We decided to visit the toilets (as it was a building they had real ones and not port-a-loos which means I will actually use them) before finally going to the bag drop so we could keep our jumpers on for as long as possible. The bag drop was right next to the registration desk, so it was all very handy. We bumped into a few girls from the club- lots doing the 10K and a few doing the half. The 10K started at 9.45, so they all headed off to the start. There was a little confusion as the 10k start was in a slightly different place to the half, added to that the inflatable finish arch having the word “Start” emblazoned across it. But they have said they were aware of this so would sort that out next year (this was it’s first year).

The half began at 10am, and we started off fairly near the back. A while ago we were thinking of around 2.10, but after Dad was ill and then had a bit of a struggle at the end of his longest run, we took all time off the table and just said we would run steadily- he didn’t want to need to walk any of it. We enjoy running parkrun together, and this was just extended really. We kept at a pace where we could chat the whole time, and just enjoyed the scenery. The Lee Valley park was lovely and well worth a visit- I was so impressed that instead of being left to rot, something good for the community and nature has come of it. We ran along canal towpaths, by the side of rivers, past a huge weir, past wetlands and through little wooded areas. We saw plenty of people out walking and cycling and at one point there was even a sort of dog training park with A-frames and hoops and things for the dogs to jump over and through.

The course was two laps, although they weren’t identical as you didn’t run through the finish area in the first lap- there was a bit of an out-and-back before you joined the loop, which you then repeated in reverse at the end of the second loop to get back. It was clearly signposted and there were mile markers (and km markers for the 10K)- it is never good seeing the 8 mile marker when you are only a few miles in, but as it was so flat and so pretty it didn’t ever feel too long. There were lots of marshals out on the course, and arrows all over the place too. We stopped at three water stations for a sip of water (around mile 4, 8 and 11) as it was fairly warm and at the final one ended up chatting to a girl who was struggling- she told us many of her injuries and illnesses that had happened during her training, but at least by this point there were only a few miles to go so we could encourage her with that thought.

I just felt so happy during the run- the sun was shining, the breeze was keeping me fairly cool, I was chatting with Dad and thanking all the marshals. One of them commented (in a jokey way) that we weren’t running hard enough as we were still talking, and at the end Dad asked if the time was OK for me. It’s hard to explain, but (despite my moan about Brighton half last week) I don’t run for time. I could have run faster, but then I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much, and sometimes it is just good to properly enjoy the race. At 10 miles I said “just a parkrun to go” which Dad found very amusing. When we got to 11 miles Dad mentioned it was uncharted territory for him as this was beyond the 18k he had managed in training, but he was still feeling fine (a bit achey) and we didn’t need to walk.

As we neared the finish line we saw a group of OH ladies (who had run the 10K) and gave them a big shout.

One of them took a few photos of us as we were running and they are just great as they totally sum up the race- we just enjoyed the whole thing.

The finish area was right by where people were canoeing, so it was brilliant to see everyone using the rapids and flipping upside-down. They had a cool conveyor belt thing that people sat on in their canoes, and it carried them to the top of course so they could then canoe downhill through the rapids, and then repeat.

At the finish area we had a drink (I’d packed nuun tabs in my pocket) and they gave us a banana so we stretched and watched other people finish for a bit. Of course we had to attempt a sweaty selfie- it is not easy to take a photo as neither of us are good at keeping our eyes open when there is a camera about!

We then walked back to the cafe area (bumping into two of the club half marathon runners- one had managed a pb despite it being a training run for the London marathon!), picked up our bag, and then we decided to have a drink in the cafe. The car park didn’t close until 2pm and we didn’t end up leaving until around 1pm (we did some more stretches on the grass by the car before heading home).

The medal is lovely too (although I do sort of wish it wasn’t the same as the 10K one…). It was their first event and I hope they do it again next year as it was well organised and such a pretty route. One I would look at doing again for sure.

Our finish times were 2:17:42 (and 4), but that wasn’t why we did it. Dad was totally chuffed as it was a pb for him, but he was over the moon to finish feeling strong and not struggling, not needing to walk at all, and of course raising money for MNDA (£600 at last count).

What do you most enjoy about races? How was your weekend?

100 parkruns!

So I have been working towards this milestone for a while now and it was such a fantastic morning. I stopped at the shop on the way to get some napkins, and then met my mum in the car park. She had made around 60 fairy cakes (carrot cakes, chocolate cakes and cherry cakes)- all in an IKEA bag for easy transportation to the start line (I on the other hand had two tins in a bag, but my tub wouldn’t fit in any bag so I had to awkwardly carry it).

Ellenbrook have a table (they use it mainly for token sorting and organising the volunteer jobs) so when we got there they moved it to next to the finish line and we piled all the cakes on (I forgot to take a photo until after running so there was already a lot gone by then). I introduced mum to Lynne who pretty much volunteers each week, as she usually marshals at the loop so they would be able to chat while we were running.

I was busy chatting to a few runners and I was about to head up to the start when I saw Denise- she wanted to try on a milestone shirt (she was the one who managed to order her 100th as a child size) so I had brought one with me. She quickly tried it on and then we headed to the start line. I hadn’t seen my dad or brother at that point, and when I was catching up with some other OH runners Dad came up and said that Tony had got a puncture on the cycle over. Dad had run 18km on Thursday (his longest run before our half next weekend) and found it a bit of a struggle at the end, so he was going to walk/run parkrun. Tony wheeled his bike up to us and Dad took it from him to wheel it up to the start. He said later that he did the first loop behind the tail runner and quite enjoyed seeing them encourage the children at the back. Anyway, back to the run. In the run briefing Tim, the RD, got me to wave and mentioned that not only was it my 100th parkrun, but I had volunteered 36 times- I didn’t realise as you don’t get a total in your emails like you do with your run. They are trying to encourage more volunteers at Ellenbrook so he was pointing out that you can volunteer without giving up your run.

We set off and I waved at mum (as you run past the finish area on both the little and big loop).

The run went well- it was a gorgeous day- sunny but with a strong breeze (which only hit you at certain points), and the mud had dried in most places making the running surface nice and firm. I ran with Tony for a bit, and tried to keep in sight a group of OH ladies. A few of the marshals congratulated me on my way around which was lovely. I also spotted 3 of the km marker posts, so I only need to find where the 1km one is now! I managed to catch up with the OH ladies at around 3km (just past the cow fields) and kept pace with them until the runway. At the start of the runway you see the 4km marker, and that was strange as normally I feel like I am nearly finished, but the thought of a whole kilometre (although as I run in miles I spent some time wondering how many minutes that would be- 6 maybe?) made it feel like the end was further.

I nearly caught Zoe (one of the OH ladies) right at the end- I finished (position 69/127) in 27.53. I am so pleased with this too, as the parkrun I ran the week after Brighton half was hard and I felt tired the whole way. This one (the week after WGC half) I felt strong and although I felt like it was fast and I was breathing hard and pushing myself, I didn’t have that heavy legged feeling (which I did have on our Tuesday night club run this week).

My post-run red face! I was very excited to have actually run my 100th as you can see!

After having my barcode scanned I went straight over to Mum and saw how she was getting on- lots of the cakes were already gone (and like a pro she had been topping up from the supplies in her bag under the table).

Tony finished in 30 minutes and went to get his bike, and Dad came in at 37 minutes, in his words being “captain sensible” and run-walking it.

While we were telling people about the cakes (next time I would also do labels I think) Tony and Dad tried to repair the puncture but they could not find the thorn- luckily mum had driven and could put his bike in her car, as it wouldn’t fit in mine. Some people had brought money with them, and were surprised that we weren’t asking for anything. I did think after that I should have asked if we could mention my dad’s fundraising page,  and the RD did say he might be able to share it on their facebook page which would be good. But really it was just such an enjoyable social occasion. I think Ellenbrook misses out on the post-parkrun cake culture a bit, as there isn’t really a cafe that people go to. I think there is a Starbucks somewhere on the uni campus, so I think they sometimes go there to process the results, but it’s not right by the finish so I think a lot of people just head home. Mum really enjoyed herself as she just loves to chat to people, and I suppose after seeing us go by on our second loop, it wouldn’t be long before the first people finished and she started giving out cakes.

I briefly chatted to someone with one of the cow cowls, and so I asked her how many she had done (26 I think)- some of the runners with her said they had a debate over whether the number should be 21, because your home parkrun doesn’t count. Dad then said we would need 22, as we sort of have two home parkruns really.

As well as seeing lots of regular runners and club friends, some of our club had been off on super long runs- the first few came back after running 11 miles so of course a piece of cake was in order.

Paula and Jan had run 15 miles- they arrived a little later for very sweaty hugs and of course some cake. They were so sweet as they had said they wanted to make it back in time to celebrate with me.

After most people had left we helped with the token sorting before heading back to the car park- I have a few bits left which I’ll take into work this week, but we didn’t have much left (always better that than to run out).

The results were processed really quickly, and I got my “welcome to the 100 club” email too. I can’t claim the t-shirt yet, but there is no rush as I’ll be wearing it for 3 years at least! (250 is the next milestone, so perhaps I’ll get that before I am 40…).

I went back to Mum and Dad’s- I had a quick shower, my sister came over with her baby, and Mum made us all pancakes for a very late breakfast (I think I got there at around 10.30)- a great start to the weekend.

So now the focus moves over to my 20 different UK events- my last count I was on 16, and I have one planned for April, and either one or two in May. There are still a few Hertfordshire ones that I haven’t been to, so I need to co-ordinate with Dad to see when he can fit in our next lot of tourism. I’m not sure when I will manage it, hopefully by the summer holidays.

One of the regulars took a lot of photos (here) and someone with a running buggy made an awesome time-lapse video of the course which is well worth a watch and may hopefully tempt some more tourists our way.

How many home parkruns do you have? Which courses would be in your top 3?

A gorgeous frosty morning

I was so very happy when I checked the weather on Friday- the 10 day forecast was basically the same every day- sunny and frosty, highs of around 5, and lows of -3. I love these days, there have been some amazing sunrises on my way to work, and everywhere just looks so pretty when it is covered in sparkling frost.

On Sunday morning this was the view from our window, so it made me look forward to my run even more. I took ages to get ready because working out what to wear is so hard- too many layers = not good, but on a longer and slower run I feel like I am more likely to get cold. In the end I went for tights, long sleeved top, jacket, buff, ear warmers and gloves.  I hadn’t planned a route, but had vague ideas of going along the old railway line and then trying to work out how to get out to Panshanger (where the parkrun is)- I had seen on Strava that it could be done but I could not quite work it out.

I kept on stopping as there were so many pretty views.

I saw hardly anyone out though- for the last few weeks I saw a fair few runners and lots of cyclists. There were a few races going on locally (the Fred Hughes 10 in St Albans, and the Essendon 10k and 5k nearby) so I wonder if lots of the local runners were there.

I had to stop a few times to check maps on my phone too, so it was a very stop-start run, but that is fine with me.

At first I went along the old railway line, and then I ended up running along country roads (which luckily turned out to have pavements).

I was very pleased when I came out of a village and could see Panshanger park along the road from where I was- made it!

I ran along the parkrun route for a bit, of course stopping for more photos. I saw a lot of people walking their dogs in the park, and a couple of very cheery runners- I love it when people say “morning” back.

The ground was so icy in places- puddles were very much frozen solid.

I had worn my new white jacket again, and I was very glad of it- it kept me warm but not too hot- there are lots of vents. Although when I stopped running I really heated up. I kept my gloves on until about half a mile from home too- it really was so cold. After doing an out and back mile (two miles? One out and one back anyway) in the park, I retraced my steps and didn’t get lost once! Awesome! I think this one is about 4 miles from home, so marginally closer than the 5 miles to Ellenbrook- it’s even closer as the crow flies but of course I can’t run there in a straight line. As I left the park I think my watch said just over 7 miles, and in total I ran just over 11, so it would be a great option if I needed to do my long run on a Saturday and still wanted to do parkrun.

While I was stopping my watch and podcast outside, I scraped the ice off my car to survey the giant crack- it doesn’t seem so bad from the outside but from the inside it is pretty huge and very distracting. I then headed inside for a warm shower- I stayed in so long that the hot water ran out!

We had some bits left over from the breakfast with my parents, so I had a bit of a random breakfast- some fruit smoothie, tea (of course), some cooked blueberries (I needed warm food) and a croissant that I spread with peanut butter and then added a few chocolate chips to, before heating it in the microwave.

I then had a bit of a pottering day- a bit of work, a bit of housework (washing and sorting), some baking (the banana bread from the Pip and Nut book)- I even cleaned my trainers!

OK  I should perhaps have taken a “before” photo, but the pink ones especially were basically caked in mud, and the trail ones on the bottom right were brown and not blue.

How was your weekend? Are you enjoying this wintery weather? Do you have a lot of friendly runners/cyclists near you?

Local parkrun tourism and baking book decisions

After the parkrun celebration evening on Tuesday, the week has been fairly normal- I went to yoga on Wednesday and had another attempt at the wheel (or crab as someone else called it)- annoyingly my hair kept getting in the way when I was trying to put my head on the floor, and I don’t feel quite strong enough in my arms, but I got most of the way there. I am still really loving it- the class is challenging and I feel aches the next day, but there is a lot of relaxation during it too, and this week when we were covered in a soft blanket and given a drop of geranium oil during the final relaxation, it was just bliss.

On Thursday after work I did a 4 mile run- I was feeling fairly tired (a lot of people have been off ill at work which means the days are busier than usual) and didn’t want to be out too late. I did the route in reverse and I think I prefer it that way.

I have been totally rocking my leg warmers because my thermal tights are not quite ankle length (not sure why). I also finally tried out the “new” trainers that I may even have bought before we moved house- or maybe July. Anyway, a long time ago. They seemed pretty comfy luckily!

We have been trying some new dinners recently- a few weeks ago we tried this warm cauliflower and pomegranate salad (although I have since seen some similar versions where the caluiflower is roasted, and that may be better for winter),   and on Thursday we had this delicious courgette, tomato and mozzerella bake (it was from the Waitrose magazine too, but I can’t find it on their website just yet)- the strips of courgette were griddled first, you made a sauce with onions, garlic and tomatoes, and then layered it in a dish along with the courgettes, cheese and breadcrumbs- it was so tasty and warming on a chilly evening.

On Saturday Dad picked me up, and along with my brother and mum, we headed off to Stevenage parkrun. It started back in May, and it is only up the road from where I live (a 20 minute drive up the A1M) but we have just not managed to get around to visiting it. Seeing the very frosty start meant I spent a lot of the morning checking the list of parkruns that are cancelled, and the Stevenage parkrun facebook page, but nothing appeared.

When we arrived at the car park, we sat in the car for a bit as it was so cold. Once we got out (at 8.50am) we realised that we had parked in the second car park (there are two listed on the course page) which apparently was a 10 minute walk from the start- oops. We then walked fairly quickly, but runners were still parking and walking behind us. We knew we should go to the new runners briefing, but we knew it was a two lap course and nothing complicated (and we will always be following someone in front). We could see a big crowd of people in the distance so guessed that was the start line, and it only looked to be 5 minutes away. I happened to say “I wonder how many runners they get” and a guy walking past started chatting, saying they got over 200 fairly regularly. He then headed off into a tiny car park, and we followed him (luckily as the route we were heading along turned out to end at a little boat marina thing).

Normally you would see the finish funnel and a lot of high viz jackets,and we were looking for the RD in the white and blue tabbard, but we couldn’t see anyone. My mum has never been to one before so we were saying it may have given her a bit of a strange impression as it didn’t seem as organised as normal. My guess was that their storage locker had frozen shut (I don’t know if they have one, but we do at Ellenbrook and I could imagine it happening- our shed lock froze at school this week). At 9am a guy ran past shouting “new runners, follow me”, so we did, along with maybe around 30 people. He gave the briefing and explained that they didn’t have access to something right then, so there were no signs on the course, and no finish funnel at that moment. The paths were icy in places, and he said there would be marshals warning of particularly slippery places.

Then the RD gave the main briefing (apologising for his lack of megaphone- that was obviously with the other bits that they couldn’t get to), and again warning of ice- “don’t sacrifice your health for a pb” was a good piece of advice.

We started off fairly slowly (well, my dad and I- my brother usually sets off quicker) and we had a nice chatty run. I really enjoyed the route and I wasn’t expecting to. I didn’t know the park at all, and of course the frosty morning helped to make it more beautiful. It was pretty flat, going around the lake and then through a wooded area. It was so cold though- my toes warmed up on the second lap.  I totally lost my bearings and I happened to glance at my watch at 145 miles, and commented to Dad “we’re half way” and then he pointed out he could see the start area from where we were! We waved at mum on our way past and told her we were half way.

None of the marshals had high viz jackets so we just thanked anyone who was stood about- I am sure at least one of them just happened to be in the park, but you know, we are a friendly bunch! On the second lap, some of them did, and by the time we got to the finish it was all set up, so it seemed their problem was sorted.

The finish was up a short incline, and as we were coming towards it we overtook someone and so were just behind my brother, so we decided to try and catch him and finish 1,2,3 but then he overtook a guy ahead of him and I told Dad to push up the hill to try and catch him, but he didn’t manage it, so he ended up stopping a bit short of the finish line and let me cross it first.

We had a good negative split of 10.23, 9.14 and 8.50, and both of us had the same time of 29.04, with my brother being just ahead at 28.48.

Mum had found someone to chat to (the wife of the person who started Stevenage parkrun) who had pointed out that the finish was not quite in the same place, and as we were having our chips scanned she walked over to us. We had the obligatory photo of course, before heading back to the car.

Then we headed back home, where we had hot drinks and warm croissants- such a lovely start to the weekend. It was so nice to share parkrun with mum too- she is always happy to make us breakfast after, but it was good for her to see how it all works and why we all love it so much.

(That was my 93rd parkrun, my 15th course, and 14th UK course)- on a side note Stevenage was very male- dominated- I was in position 112, but was only the 14th female- not sure if that is a big jump but it seems it- normally it seems to me that there is about a 1:2 ratio, but that’s more like 1:10.

I’ve bought two new baking books this week- I finally bought the Puddings cookbook by the people who run The Pudding Stop in St Albans (mainly for their amazing peanut butter and salted caramel brownie recipe), and then this nut butter cook book.

I love the Pip and Nut butters- proper drippy peanut butter, and delicious varieties like crunchy maple peanut butter, and when I saw this on Amazon and “looked inside” it was right up my street. For one, there is a section on toast, and if Andy didn’t do our cooking I would probably end up living off toast (I do like other things, but I get carried away with work in the evenings, and then it gets late, and I am hungry and can’t be bothered to cook), and it also had so many other amazing sounding recipes including almond butter banana bread, and a wonderful looking baked brioche French toast. I don’t know where to begin!

At the end of last year we saw Moana in the cinema, and I absolutely loved it- I do love Disney but I am not a big princess fan, I prefer their other stories. This was beautiful, and the songs are fantastic (although “You’re welcome” sounds a lot like the song from the Community Christmas special about the glee club, and the bit where she sings “I am Moana” sounds a bit like “I am a Mormon”, plus when the crab sings at times he sounds like the Flight of the Conchords Bowie impressions- and yes I do know it’s him singing)- since seeing it pretty much every time I have been in the kitchen I have played the soundtrack. So imagine my delight when this (and I can’t work out how to embed) popped up on DYRT on facebook- I love the parkrun versions of songs, and mixing Moana with parkrun is just genius. I love it. Or for some more traditional songs you can see the St Albans parkrun band performing “Oh Eight Fifty Nine” at the volunteer night. They always have such funny lyric adaptations on their facebook page, and to see one being performed is a treat, and possibly a total ear worm. Although the one that played after was them playing the Ghostbusters song (on Halloween) and I was a bit disappointed as it seems like they should have shouted “parkrunners” instead of “Ghostbusters”…

I am doing the run report next weekend, so I may need to think of some inspiration in the week too!

How has your weekend been? Are you loving this gorgeous frosty weather? (Apart from de-frosting the car first thing of course).  What have you seen in the cinema recently? We are off to La La Land next week.

Celebration of parkrun volunteers

On my drive to work on Tuesday, a massive crack appeared in my windscreen- first going right from the chip (a chip that was repaired over a year ago) and then left- rather scary. I drove home the long and slow way, and it got even longer- argh! I was due to be going to the celebration of parkrun volunteers, so I posted in our running club facebook group and thankfully someone offered to pick me up- phew.

Everyone who volunteered at a Hertfordshire parkrun had been invited to the evening, and there were lots of people from local running clubs, as well as lots of volunteers.

It was put on by the Herts sports partnership, and was held at the uni. It started with a buffet and drinks in the foyer (where we had to collect our badges- name + parkrun, although mine had Ellenbrook and Panshanger- when we booked the tickets we were not asked for our parkrun, so I think they must have looked to see where I tend to go), and it was lovely to chat to so many people- one of my friends from Panshanger was going to be doing a talk, and her daughter was presenting some flowers, and then I ended up chatting to a few people who I see at Ellenbrook and say hi to, so it was good to chat to them a bit more . The St Albans parkrun band were playing (mainly running songs like the Rocky theme tune, Keep on Running etc). Just before 7 we were led into the auditorium. After a brief introduction from the host (who was ED at South Oxhey parkrun I think- one of the Herts ones anyway) the king of parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt OBE gave a talk about how parkrun had started.

I thought I knew a lot about it- I used to listen to the parkrun show podcast (sister to marathon talk), and I have heard interviews from various people on the marathon talk podcast before. But he went into great depth and it was fascinating. He also talked about their ambitions of making the world a healthier and happier place, how they want to expand in America, and how they feel they should do China if they really want to have an impact. He talked a bit about sponsorship and how they feel a bit conflicted when the relationship changes a bit (eg at first Adidas supported them, but after a while they just wanted to push them to sell shoes) and how the apricot range of parkrun clothes is a big step in them coming more independent from sponsors (a great excuse to do a bit of internet shopping). Danny Norman was sitting in front of us (he used to present the parkrun podcast) and he was putting it on facebook live, so I am sure it is out there on the internet. If you are interested in parkrun, I’d recommend it.

It was so interesting hearing how it grew so organically- literally parkrunners would emigrate and then get in touch and say “can I start it here?”. We also heard about how they relented with Russia after “parkrunski” (no joke) was started, using QR codes instead of barcodes!

We then heard stories from various volunteers throughout Hertfordshire. At the start we had been told to cheer each time our home parkrun was mentioned, so each time we heard Ellenbrook all the OH ladies in attendance gave a big cheer- it was quite funny as the more local ones had much bigger cheers.

The stories included people joining parkrun to lose weight, getting involved in the core team and a VI runner and her guide. The VI runner was particularly inspiring because of the way parkrun had put her in touch with people- someone who was a guide for her also runs with her one evening, and someone else takes her swimming- it was just wonderful to see the community spirit. One of the volunteers was a child, and his mum had helped to start up another parkrun (Luton), apparently partly because her son did gymnastics and was often late because they went to parkrun first!

We then had the ED’s of the only Herts junior parkrun, talking about how they set it up, and how much they enjoyed it (they were both RD’s at Panshanger, so they knew how to set up a 5k one).

Then we had some information about how parkrun has grown across Herts- in October 2014 there was only one in the county (St Albans), but now there are 11, with more on the way.

Finally the Herts sports partnership gave out some awards, and then the most important part- coffee and cake- served back in the foyer. The band were playing again, this time singing some of the songs where they change the words- if you follow St Albans parkrun on facebook every now and then you will see them- e.g instead of “All about the Base” it’s “All about the lake” (as St Albans is 3 laps of a lake)…. very funny.

The people from Like the Wind magazine were there, as in the latest issue there was an interview with Paul S-H, and he was going to be signing issues. Since hearing them on marathon talk a long time ago, I signed up to the mailing list, and I get emails telling me when the new issue is out, but I have never actually bought one- it seemed like the perfect time.

I picked up a copy, got some cake and then had a wander around, looking for him. I ended up chatting to more people from our club, before finally realising that he was sat at the table where the magazines were being sold (I think I was too quick coming out of the auditorium as he wasn’t there when I bought mine!).

I get very easily star struck- when we met Mark Kermode Andy pretty much did all the talking, so nearly chickened out, but I joined the queue and I think I just garbled thanks to him about how I loved parkrun and how he was so amazing to come up with the idea. He asked me why I had two parkruns on my badge, so I had to explain that.

Then Andy came to pick me up as we had some sorting out to do with the cars. It was such a brilliant evening-  the only thing is, it was on a Tuesday so we all had to wait many days before we could actually go to a parkrun!

Does your county do anything to encourage sports participation?  Are you good at meeting famous people? I am sure I have mentioned this before, but on our first trip to Disney (I was at uni) I got starstruck meeting Minnie Mouse.