Saturday, 5 October 2019

Muddy good fun at Havant parkrun

It has been a busy old week - my little sister has been all over the news as she decided to walk from Devon to Downing Street in protest at the way Thomas Cook has treated its former employees.  She covered the 200 miles in just 7 days, an utterly amazing feat!  She was supported by many people along the way who offered a bed for the night, a meal or a drink along the way.  She stayed with us on Thursday evening and we went up to London on Friday evening to meet up with her after she had delivered her letter to 10 Downing Street.  I've spent more time than usual on social media - helping to sort out beds for the night and making sure as many people as possible knew what she was up to! You can read a little bit about her walk here in one of the many articles about her. Work has also been a bit manic, who doesn't love a week with a parents' evening in it?  

Consequently I didn't really want to go too far for my weekly parkrun fix!  This weekend is the 15th birthday of parkrun, so one option would have been Bushy Park, a possible trip to Gravesend had also been mooted, but I didn't want to get up too early and I didn't want to spend all of my Saturday travelling to and from parkrun.  Havant however was reasonably close and I had never run there before.  JB picked me up at a very civilised 8am and we arrived in plenty of time to park and make our way to the start.  The parkrun is in Staunton Country Park - I've run there before during an On The Whistle event but I couldn't remember much about it, although I think there may have been firemen....  I didn't do a lot of research - we only decided on Havant on Wednesday evening and the last two days of the week are hugely busy at work, but I seemed to recall that it was trail and I thought, from comments I'd read on Facebook, that it was hilly.  

The first timers' briefing mentioned a hill and mud.  It is the first muddy run I have done this autumn as there was a short muddy section near the start that we ran through a couple of times.  The course is 1 short lap followed by 2 longer laps, it wasn't flat but the uphill sections were not at all arduous.  Had I been running at full speed I might have struggled with the short, sharp downhill on gravel.  As it was, JB was taking it easy because a) he has the Basingstoke Half tomorrow and b) he walked 30 miles with my sister on Thursday and has the blisters to prove it, I was happy to take it easy as I have to run 20 or 22 miles tomorrow.   I do like a chatty parkrun!  This parkrun is so pretty!  I would gladly come back and run it again.  The marshals were cheerful and friendly and I saw several familiar faces which is always lovely.

After we'd finished we grabbed a drink at the cafe.  It is £1 or a tea of coffee for parkrunners or 50p if you have a reusable cup with you - what a bargain!  Parking charges were steep though - £3.20 for the 2 hours we were there.  Thank you to all the volunteers for a wonderful morning.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Insanity runs in the family!

Today I should be focussing on a blog about Hazelwood parkrun and I will mention that later, but the last week has been somewhat tumultuous in our family!

At 2am on Monday morning my little sister (she may be in her 40s but she will forever be my little sister) got a WhatsApp message telling her not to come in to work.  She was a cabin manager for Thomas Cook, she had worked for them for 20 years since leaving university.  She gained a law degree from a Russel Group university but, on graduating, didn't really know what she wanted to do with her life, so opted to be a 'trolley dolly' for a couple of years.  She loved the life style and quickly progressed to roles with increasing responsibility, taking a short maternity break and returning to her globe trotting lifestyle with the support of her husband.

To date, nearly a week after the collapse of the company, she has not received any communication from either Thomas Cook or the receivers.  She is one of the 'lucky ones' in that her husband is not a Thomas Cook employee.  So many of her friends and colleagues married fellow employees (I guess it  helps when your partner understands the particular stresses and strains of your job) and now neither of them have a job.  The company collapsed a week before payday.  Three weeks of work and no sign of a pay check yet!

So what did my sister do?  Well, she mopped around the house for 24hrs and then she got cross.  Especially when she read about the bonuses the board had taken out of the company over the past few years.  She has spent the last 20 years being reminded that she is ultimately accountable for her actions when at work... but it seems that this doesn't apply to the bosses at Thomas Cook!

This made her a bit cross (actually - she was pretty livid!) and made her want to do something.  She decided to make a banner, put on her uniform and walk to Westminster to demand some answers.  Which doesn't sound that mad an idea until you realise she lives in Devon and that walk is about 200 miles!  I don't know about you, but I am all for mad exploits - but I like a bit of planning.... Rachel didn't have time for planning - she wants to try to meet up with other Thomas Cook employees for a protest so had no choice other than to go to her jobseeker's interview and then set straight off to walk to London from Newton Abbot!

She left at 12.30 yesterday arriving in Exeter at The Devon Hotel (where they looked after her and charged her a discounted rate) and has now finished her second day of walking (somewhere this side of Honiton) and has assured Husbando that she has somewhere safe to stay tonight.  Most people who set off to walk any distance longer than to the local pub and back spend a bit of time working out routes, where they will stay and what to do when things go wrong!  Rachel knows the route - having commuted from Devon to Gatwick for the last 7 or 8 years - but walking is very different to driving!  

I have shared her story pretty widely, and it has been mentioned on the BBC business news website, but what would be lovely would be if people could look out for her as she walks and maybe walk with her for a few miles.  There can't be that many people walking along in Thomas Cook cabin crew uniform - and I'm sure she'd welcome a bit of company and maybe a hot drink.   Or if you are feeling generous you can contribute to her fundraising page here.

I haven't told her yet but I am so proud of her that I am going to try to get her to come to our school to talk to our students about the whole experience... once she has had a chance to recover from her epic journey!

Here is her route for Sunday:

All this was milling around my head as we ran at Hazelwood parkrun today.  Chosen purely because it was on the way into London and JB had already done Homewood parkrun.  Hazelwood is the home of the London Irish rugby team, so the facilities were fab - toilets near the start, big screen TV showing the Ireland v. Japan rugby match, but I hadn't done my homework (it has been a pretty full on week) and had not done any research, so pitched up in road shoes for a course that was almost entirely on grass.  As it would be around rugby pitches!

The run director gave a great run brief before we walked to the start.  The course is one short lap followed by two long laps.  It is almost pancake flat and could be a very fast course, were it not for the incompatibility of road shoes and grass and the huge headwind on the second lap - I went from 7.15min/mile pace to just over 8min/mile pace along that outward stretch!  JB, major surgery last week not withstanding, ran on ahead.  I assumed Husbando was also ahead, so was surprised when he caught me up at about 4k!  We ran the last k 'together' with him pulling ahead just before the end... but I wasn't having that and overtook him just before we entered the finish funnel!  I was a mere 9 seconds slower than my all time parkrun PB!

Coffee (and bacon rolls for some) in the club house afterwards completed the morning nicely.  The marshals and volunteers made us feel very welcome - so big thank you to them all!

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Running in the House of Mouse.

Some time ago, and without my knowledge, Husbando wrote to my headteacher to ask for a day off for me.  I have long thought that teachers should be allowed to have a couple of days that they could take off, with prior agreement and ensuring that adequate cover work is left, each year so that they can attend important events that take place in term time. Like weddings.  On, in my case, races.  But that isn't the way it works, and I was thrilled when I found out a few days before the trip that Husbando had booked a long weekend at Disneyland Paris for the Run Disney weekend.   Even more excitingly we were going to travel over with a group of friends as part of the very prolonged celebration of my fast approaching significant birthday.

We had a few anxious days before the trip, as one of our friends ended up having surgery on Thursday to deal with some pesky kidney stones, but thankfully the surgeon gave him the all clear to run so long as he took it easy.  He was travelling with his (grown up) children so they were on hand to carry suitcases for him.  The journey over was uneventful and didn't even involve getting up too early, which was nice.

On arriving we went straight to the Expo to collect our bib numbers (A pen for most of us, E for elite for the super speedy family), a whole stack of race t-shirts, look at and purchase yet more running related stuff and sort out photopasses and all that sort of stuff.  We then checked into the hotel, Newport Bay, grabbed some food and then just relaxed before the first race.

The 5k
The 5k race starts at 8pm on the Friday evening.  We all decided to start in the same pen (A) and managed to work our way to near the front.  Our pen closed at 7.40pm and by this time pens B,C and D were filling up very quickly.  A few minutes before 8pm the wheelchair race started.  Now these weren't David Weir style wheelchair racers, a lot of the wheelchairs were pretty standard 'street' wheelchairs being pushed by companions, so they weren't likely to be setting off at a fast pace.  At 8pm the elite runners went off, followed by the 'invited runners' and then we were off.

We ran down a short hill to a very sharp right hand turn and into the back of walkers and wheelchairs!    Husbando and I planned to take this 5k easy, but wanted to 'peg it' to the first character so that we could avoid the queues and still get some photos.  We didn't recognise the first character, so didn't stop!  We carried on to the second, but the queue was huge, so we didn't stop... in fact we didn't stop for any of the characters... they were few and far between and nothing that we thought worth stopping for!  We finished in about 22 and a half minutes, collected our medals and made our way to the bar to wait for everyone else.  The bar was near the start and runners were still streaming past.  The last runners must have gone through the start close to 9pm!  And some of them had been waiting since about 7pm.

We toddled off to bed to try to get as much sleep as possible.

The 10k 
A 4.30am alarm is never welcome.  Especially when your first thought on waking is 'Oh my God!  I've got to do this again tomorrow!'  We pulled on our running kit and went down to get some breakfast and a cup of something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea (as Douglas Adams so perfectly put it).  We were in the pen by 6am, shivering somewhat in the chilly early morning air.  It was the same set up at the start  as at the 5k (and would be at the half) with the same, inevitable, bunching of runners near the start.  Husbando wasn't feeling great, we knew that we had to run again the next day, so we took it easy.  We stopped for character photos and photos with firemen, but again the characters didn't really appeal if I am honest.  I think it was all princesses and lots of them were quite difficult to see from the route, so you'd see them after you had run past.

After the run we went back for second breakfast (surely the best meal of the day), a shower and a day spent in the parks and then an evening dodging the gilet jaunes in Paris to get to a restaurant where the second bottle of wine was possibly an error and the complimentary limoncellos were definitely a mistake!  I poured myself into bed at about 11pm, cursing the thought of yet another early start.

The half
Same drill as the day before!  But warmer this morning.  The first part of the route was around the service areas and then it weaved in, out and around around the park.  This was great as it allowed for loo stops (most welcome) and we stopped for character photos too.  I felt great (despite the hangover) and would have liked to run a wee bit faster, but Husbando was still feeling somewhat below par so we kept the pace down.  I am unusual in that I like the bits outside the park!  There is a nice section in a park that goes around a lake, there are some lovely gentle downhills and bastarding long slogs up the corresponding uphills.

More firemen during the half marathon
At about 15k Husbando stopped for a pee, I ran on slowly, he must have had the longest pee ever because I had almost given up on ever seeing him again when he appeared at my shoulder!  I had found it quite painful to slow down and now struggled to speed up again, but luckily there was a downhill section ahead which helped.  Husbando seemed to have had a miracle recovery and we were now upping the pace.  It felt great.  Until 19k, when we came into the Disney Village, past a MacDonalds and the smell of food hit me.  The smell of fast food is grim at the best of time, when running with a hangover it is the last thing I want to smell.  My stomach churned.  I thought I was going to lose my breakfast.  I told Husbando to run on as I slowed down in an attempt to calm my tummy.  A second wave of nausea hit me as I passed somewhere cooking hotdogs.  Who wants hotdogs before 9am on a Sunday morning?

Once passed the food smells I felt better.  And I was nearly at the end.  Less than 2000m to go.  Could I catch Husbando?  I sped up until I could just about see him ahead, then worked on closing the gap.  I kept pushing, working hard for the first time in the race, but couldn't quite do it.  I finished 26 seconds behind him.  It isn't a PB race, but this is the first time I have run it in less than 2 hours, even though it was 8minutes slower than my half marathon PB from 5 years ago!

After meeting up with friends we made out way back to the Expo to collect the 'challenge medals.'  In addition to the three races you can collect medals for running 31k and 36k (which we did), and if you are lucky enough to have run a Disney half or marathon in America in the same year you can claim the 'Castle to Chateau Challenge' medal.  We then had a mad dash back to the hotel for second breakfast, showers and an 11am checkout.  We mooched around the park for a few hours, ate some lunch etc. until it was time to catch our train home.

We had a great weekend.  I did feel that I didn't see quite enough of any of my friends, but we have all survived to run another day, so there will be many more opportunities for mad running exploits in the future...and the not too distant future at that.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Another PB!

If you have known me for any length of time you will be aware that I do not like to be late.  In fact I consider 5 minutes early to be a bit too close for comfort, so when I booked a 10k race at Brooklands I made sure I knew exactly how I would get there.  We were staying up in London on Saturday evening, but I knew I could get the 7.11am train from Waterloo to Weybridge and the Transport for London website told me that the underground would easily get me to the station on time.  Happy days!  I'd booked at 10k race, my first chip timed 10k since 2015, because my training plan said I only needed to run 10k and fortunately RunThrough Events were holding a Running Grand Prix at Mercedes Benz World.

Panic began to set in when I turned up at the tube station to find it still locked... as was the next nearest station.  I found a cab - not too many around at 6.20am on a Sunday morning and paid a small fortune to be sped to Waterloo.  At least I wasn't going to miss the train.

It was a beautifully clear morning, but very chilly.  I was beginning to regret my choice of shorts and a vest top.  A brisk walk from the station along paths clearly signposted by the event team, took the edge off the chill and as long as I stayed in the sunshine it was bearable!  Race number collected, it was just a matter of waiting for my race to start.  Most unusually I didn't see a single person I recognised amongst the waiting runners.

The half marathon race started half an hour before the 10k.  Watching the runners make their way around the track made it clear that this was quite a convoluted route!  They would be running 4 (and a bit) laps, with the 10k and 5k aces completing two and one lap respectively.  There were lots of 180 degree turns and many tight turns, it was quite hard to maintain a constant pace.  This was exacerbated when the 5k runners joined in too.  I spent a lot of time weaving around other runners.  At one point a marshal called 'keep right, faster runner coming through' so I moved over, only to realise that I was the faster runner he was referring to!  I hit 3 miles in 22minutes 36 but had no idea if I could keep up the pace for another lap.  I kept looking for the water station - noticing it only after I had run past it (it was on the outside edge of a curve we were running around) so had to double back a little to grab a bottle.  I was somewhat dehydrated, possibly due to attending a 50th birthday party the previous evening, but I probably didn't really need the water!

At about 7.5k into the race I heard a lady running up behind me.  She was breathing heavily, as she came along side me we chatted for a little while - but I was speeding up, I'd been coasting along quite easily and I thought that I might just be able to get a PB if I picked up the pace.  Until last night I'd thought my PB was 49minutes, but on investigation I discovered a flukey 47:59 back in 2015.  I had no idea if I could do it, my mental calculations were not helped by the fact that I stupidly got it into my head that 10k is 6.1k, could I do this?  I was overtaking people who had overtaken me earlier in the race and felt very comfortable.   I thought I might be amongst the top twenty females to finish, and my watch said 47:11 - so definitely a PB!  

Needing to get back into London so that I could have a shower and then check out of our hotel room meant that I couldn't investigate the Brooklands Museum or Mercedes Benz World, but it looks well worth a visit.  I just collected my medal, my t-shirt, a flap jack (yummy), a couple of energy bar things and a banana and headed back to the train.  I could hardly believe the official results!  8th female, 1st in my age category and 47th overall out of a field of 311!  It does make me wonder if I could run a 46:XX 10k.

In fact a couple of conversations recently make me wonder how fast I could run if I a)trained properly and b) pushed myself a bit harder on the day!  JB says he doesn't enjoy racing as it is just hard work, Husbando's face every time I saw him at a recent half marathon, was a picture of misery.  When I run I want to have fun, chat to people, thank the marshals and so on.  I think I am a little bit scared of pushing too hard because, well, it might hurt and it might not make all that much difference!  Maybe I should join a local running club so that I can run with people of a similar ability regularly...

Saturday, 31 August 2019

California dreaming

I have been meaning to visit California Country parkrun for a wee while, but hadn't made it for various reasons.  Today I found myself travelling to parkrun alone as Husbando is having a day off prior to a race tomorrow, the 15 year old could not be woken up (school is going to be so much fun next week) and my normal parkrun accomplice was otherwise engaged.  I've become a real wuss about meeting new people - a really good character trait in a teacher - so told myself all I needed to do was turn up, run and then come home... but if I could talk to people that would be a bonus!

I arrived in plenty of time. hoping to find out why a park in Finchampstead is called 'California Country Park'.  The website for the park hadn't helped with that one and I am still none the wiser.  It is a lovely park though, with lots of parking (charges apply) and a conveniently located cafe (with loos that are open before the parkrun).  Getting to the start was somewhat confusing - so I followed a group of people running apricot and purple t shirts and hoped for the best!  The first time briefing was excellent - although I will admit to getting a bit confused about the route and figuring that I would just follow the person in front.  I spotted a fellow With Me Now podcast listener and greeted her with a 'Dolly or Bev?' (If you listen to the podcast you'll know what I'm talking about, if you don't then you should!)

The run director's approach to the run brief was excellent.  He called us all together and then waited until everyone was quiet, commented that he would start now we were all listening and paused when some chattering threatened to get out of hand - brilliant!  I asked him if he was a teacher - he said that he had grown up in a family of teachers! One thing though - and this seems to happen at lots of parkruns - the run brief is given using a PA system, but the count down and start are so very quiet that  those of us not at the very front can only tell the run has begun because the crowd moves forward!  

The start was quite crowded, the path was narrow, and I hadn't positioned myself very well so the start was quite slow, especially though the wooded section as it was impossible to overtake here at all.  It is a pretty and varied course, partly on a lovely smooth path and partly through woods being careful to avoid the tree roots.  There was an out and back section and a repeat loop through the wooded section, all supported by marshals who kept us going in the right direction.  There was a longish downhill section on the out and back - which meant a longish uphill section too!  

As I went into the woods for the second time, probably about half a mile from the finish, I heard one of the marshals say 'That's the 5th lady,' as I ran past.  I wasn't having that!  So I put on a bit of speed and overtook a few people (jumping over branches and dodging trees) and managed to claw my way up to 3rd lady by the time we got to the finish.  

After the obligatory barcode scanning, I chatted to a few people at the finish and then decided to brave the cafe.  Jackson's cafe was lovely, and I brazenly went to sit at a table which already had runners sitting at it.  We chatted about parkrun and black pudding, amongst other things and passed a very pleasant half an hour in the sunshine.  

Thank you to all the volunteers and marshals for making me feel so welcome.  I'm not sure if I am now actively chasing down my Cowell Club membership (100 different parkruns) - but I am now on 84 different venues so I might get a bit more proactive in seeking out new ones....

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Gin and PBs!

 On a whim we booked ourselves into Gin School on Friday afternoon. Gorilla Spirits  is a distillery that is just down the road from where we live and not only do they make excellent gin (their Silverback Mountain Strength Gin gained top marks in a gin tasting I hosted a couple of years ago) they donate £1 to support gorilla conservation.  We'd been meaning to book a tour or one of their cocktail making masterclasses but decided to go for the Gin School experience as the idea of making our own gin really appealed.

We arrived at 2 o'clock on a sunny afternoon and were greeted with the first of several G&Ts which we sipped while we waited for the other four pupils to arrive.  Before long we were chatting away and ready to get started...

The process of choosing botanicals was explained, we each had a folder which described the characteristics of each botanical and suggested which other botanicals they would work well with.  We made our choices, safe in the knowledge that one of the experts would check our final recipe to make sure that it would work before we started meticulously measuring out our ingredients, recording all these measurements on our recipe sheet.  I had intended to make a 'Christmas Gin,' but got waylaid by the botanicals.  One was called 'Lady's Mantle' which is a plant that grows prolifically in our village, I liked it and decided to base my gin around it.

Each of us had our own still.  They all had individual names and were very cute!  While we waited for all the class to be at the same stage we enjoyed another G&T before being taken on a tour of the distillery.  This is a much smaller operation than Bombay Sapphire.  I think they said they had a staff of 9, everyone mucks in and does all the rolls that are needed, from monitoring the still to labelling the bottles.  After our tour we went back to the stills to work out the ABV of our distillate and therefore how much water we would need to add turn it into something that was a) drinkable and b) would satisfy HMRC's rules on alcohol content.  We had been asked to 'name' our gins - and these were printed onto labels.  The 'extra' gin that wouldn't fit in the bottle was used to make yet another G&T!  I have to say that Husbando's gin was very nice, but mine was delicious.  (I had to drink most of his drinks because he was driving).

All in all, this was a brilliant way to spend an afternoon and I can't recommend it highly enough!  We came home with out two bottles of gin, a bottle of the Gorilla Spirits Old Tom Gin and a bottle of their Raspberry Gin.  We got a 10% discount on our purchases and these two aren't as easily available as the original Mountain Strength gin.

I came home and went to bed.

On Saturday morning I woke up with a slightly sore head, but Saturday is parkrun day and we had made plans to meet a friend at Upton Court parkrun.  From there Husbando and I were heading into London.  I felt ghastly, almost as green as my 250 top.  Still it was only 5k, I've run parkrun with a hangover before, all I had to do was get around.  We lined up at the start and were soon under starter's orders!  Husbando hared off into the distance, I assumed JB had done the same.  I couldn't be bothered to look at my watch, it was hot, my head hurt and I felt a bit queasy so I just ran.  The course is one long then one short loop of Upton Court Park, it is mainly on grass, with a couple of sections on tarmac.  At one point during the first lap I got to a point where I couldn't see anyone ahead and it wasn't immediately clear where I should go, I stopped - very briefly - for another runner to catch me up so I knew where to go.

On the second lap JB caught up with me and we ran the rest of the course together.  It was really hot now and he wasn't going to let me slow down!  We passed a marshal who told up we had 600m to go - we thought he was a little optimistic - but as I looked at my watch (for only the second time in the run) I realised that I could be on for a PB!  Coming around the last corner two other runners came up behind us.  I wasn't prepared to let them overtake me, but wasn't exactly sure where the finish line was so just had to run as fast as I could and hope that I could hold on...urns out I could.  And I got an 8 second parkrun PB into the bargain!  Husbando also got a parkrun PB, but we both ran slower than JB's fastest marathon pace!

Such are the benefits of a flat parkrun!  There must have been some uphill as there was definitely a downhill slope, but I can't remember it!  The volunteers were friendly and helpful and we were very glad to grab some cold drinks from the rugby club house after our run!  There were also lovely loos in the club house that were available before the run and there is plenty of free parking nearby.  A great parkrun which didn't involve getting up too early!  Thank you to all the volunteers!

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Milton Keynes

The last time I went to Milton Keynes was for an interview for a place on the Open University's PGCE course.  I was so nervous on the way there and so relieved on the way home that I could have been anywhere!  Today I was travelling to Milton Keynes as it was a convenient, almost halfway point, between our house and my mother's house and as such a useful meeting point at which to hand over a small person who wants to spend a week with her grandmother and aunts.  I was also aware that it gave me options in terms of parkrun locations so that I wasn't just driving for hours and hours on a Saturday morning!  I gave my mum the details of several parkruns and she chose Milton Keynes.  This was fine by me - it looked really easy to get to from the M1, had a cafe, loos and lots of parking nearby.  It was also a non lapped parkrun... I'd say a single lap, but it isn't even a complete loop, the finish point being about a quarter of a mile away from the start.  Given the size of lots of city parks and open spaces non lapped parkruns are quite rare  - I think I've only run two or three such courses.  It also looked fairly flat.  
Smallest one scanning barcodes

Small person and I got up stupidly early - 5.30am in the school holidays is not nice and were packed up and on our way by 6.15am which meant we arrived at Willen's Lake at about ten past eight.  Willen's Lake is an amazing venue in the midst of a series of parks and green spaces.  At the lake you can take place in all sorts of water sports and other activities - it looked amazing!  When we arrived there were very few other people there, but the loos were open (thankfully!) and we soon found the volunteer co-ordinator who had been so helpful the previous evening when I'd asked about the small one helping with barcode scanning (to keep her occupied while I ran).  

Run director Ros gave an informative run briefing, welcoming many guests including a large number of runners from Kingfisher Harriers all sporting bright orange t-shirts with kingfishers on them.  As we assembled at the start runners appeared from everywhere!  There were over 600 this morning on what is quite a narrow start (a gravel path between two trees).  The first few hundred metres are slightly uphill followed by a section along the edge of the canal.  The route is entirely on gravel and tarmac paths, it isn't a hilly course but there is a zig-zag section through a wooded area which concentrates the mind somewhat!  Being quite open, the wind could be a problem - in fact I was blown sideways as we ran under a bridge that was doing a very good impression of a wind tunnel!

I haven't run at such a large parkrun for quite a while and I was struck by the fact that there was very little thinning out (at least where I was running).  I was always surrounded by runners.  The marshals were enthusiastic in their support.  Back in the days when there were far fewer parkruns, if I visited a new parkrun I would just 'plod' around, knowing that there was a good chance I'd be back and that it would be nice, if slightly artificial, to get a course PB!  Now we are spoilt for choice and I can't really justify doing that anymore but, having sat in the car for hours and knowing that they journey home would probably take even longer, I didn't feel as though I really wanted to push it, so I decided not to look at my watch, not to push it and just run at a pace that felt comfortable and where I could chat with those around me and have enough breath to thank all the marshals.  I was pleased with my result - I always run a bit faster at parkrun than I run the rest of the week.

After having my barcode scanned (by my own daughter) we went to the cafe near the finish, One4six.  The cafe is quite large with loads of picnic tables outside, the drinks weren't cheap - £10 for a can of pop, two coffees and a tea - but at least there were reasonably large cups!  I am still trying to persuade my mother and sister to take part in their local parkrun but they keep saying that they can't because they are not runners - I hope that sitting watching the walkers finish might just make them think that they can take part - they could even take the dog!

As I headed back to the car and paid for parking it started to rain - the parkrun weather fairies had given us an hour and a half of sunny weather to enjoy our run and coffees!  My result text popped up on the screen as I sat in a traffic jam on the M1 - very efficient - and thanks to me having eventually mastered the voice activated technology in the car I could get my result read out to me!  

Huge thanks to all the volunteers, it was a pleasure to run with you today.