A gentle nudge for parkrunners

As you may be well aware by now, I’m a huge parkrun fan. parkrun is a big hug in a mug for me. I love the concept (free 5k events all over the UK, and indeed the world!). I love the community. I love the non-competitive nature of it. It’s inclusiveness. I love the fact that you can go to different ones and almost “collect” them and build up your stats.

Yes, I am a parkrun devotee. I love my home parkrun, Netley Abbey. OK the course can be tough; three laps meaning three inclines, the terrain can be tricky (compacted gravel and grass) and it can get a bit hairy when a lot of people show up (shouts of “keep right!” can be heard throughout). I’ve been going there now for a good number of years and I’ve become a fairly regular member of the set-up and close-down team for those years too. It’s a great way to volunteer and still be able to run. I love chatting and laughing with the crew and often feel guilty when I can’t make it because I’m heading off somewhere else that weekend.

Now, volunteering is a crucial part of making parkrun work. Without people giving up their time it wouldn’t work. People can volunteer and not be runners as well. It always amazes me when people become part of the parkrun community this way despite not wanting or being able to run. Run Directors, barcode scanners, course marshals, timekeepers etc., are all so integral to a Saturday’s parkrun.But often forgotten are the set-up and close-down crew. I obviously don’t know what happens in every parkrun, but at Netley we need to be there an hour before the 9am start. We need to get out the signs and parkrun paraphernalia from the store cupboard, which is  no where near the start (it’s the only safe place to store it on the park grounds) and then walk the course and set it up. I suppose at smaller parkruns or more obvious routes don’t require that many signs or that much walking in order to set the course up but for Netley we basically have to walk an entire lap (a mile). We usually don’t have enough people to make this process as efficient as possible. 
Now this is all fine and dandy during the summer months where it’s warm and sunny but when autumn and winter hit, it can be a rather miserable process. It sucks when you wake up for parkrun and see the weather outside. Rain battering against the window, frost, mist, COLD. It’s more of a struggle to get yourself to go. If you “just” run parkrun then you might hide in your car until the last possible minute and then dash off to the start at 8.55am. But the set-up crew have been out there for a good hour in that weather. I can’t speak for everyone else, but normally I’m rather cold, wet and a little grumpy. Peeling off my layers and heading to the start is a hideous process. I’m not overreacting when I say that during the winter I do tend to dread that hour before parkrun. We normally don’t get time to warm-up with a nice jaunty jog around the park.

OK I’m whining and moaning and this is out of the spirit of parkrun – of which, despite all this, I still adore. My moan is no one’s fault – it is what it is. We’ve tried to streamline things as much as possible of course but the weather and time of year can’t be helped.

So this year I’m going to take some time off at winter in setting the course up. It just wears down my love of parkrun and I don’t want that. I also want to explore other parkruns. I want a lazy Saturday morning, getting up at the last possible minute to race down to the start. To hibernate away in my car until the final second. Or have a bit of time to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing before I need to run.

What I will ask though please is when you’re next at parkrun, give a thought to how those signs were put there, who set the barcode table up, who placed each cone on the course, how the finish funnel is where it is…. parkrun fairies don’t exist. parkrun devotees and volunteers DO. Maybe consider giving up that extra time in bed and heading down to help them out. Or when you’re finished, how about clearing the course away instead of dashing home to the warmth or to the coffee shop for a post-run hot drink? It really does help.

Right, moan over!

Do you go to parkrun?

Do you volunteer?

Is your local parkrun course a simple set-up or more complicated?

All the running and all the food

Two things in life make me very happy (amongst other things of course, but in general these two rank pretty high). Food and running. And these things have been going nicely hand in hand over the last few days.

So you know I said I love my new job? Well I REALLY love my new job. On the last Friday of the month Wiggle organise a run and a cycle for everyone to join in with, if they want. For the last couple of months I haven’t been able to join in, either due to coming back from injury or just not fitting in with my running schedule. But this month I was good to go finally!

They had a few different events you could sign up to: a speedy cycle, a mountain bike session in Queen Elizabeth Country Park, a gentle 5k, a trail 7k I’m QECP or a scavenger hunt walk. So it’s very inclusive. You didn’t have to do any but it was all free and started at 2.30pm Friday. I signed up to the trail run and was feeling excited. I had actually won an internal competition as well so had some brand new season dhb gear to test out too.Friday was also the national Macmillan bake sale so there was a ridiculous number of cakes floating about the office too. Happiness all round! I’d already come pre-prepared with cash ready to donate and invest in some solid pre-run fuel. I actually wolfed down my porridge at double speed when I saw them putting the cakes out as I didn’t want to miss any of the good stuff (I have s genuine fear of food running out. It’s a symptom of being the greedy person I am).So before 9.30am I’d already eaten my porridge, a peanut butter brownie, a questionable vegan brownie, a sausage roll and a GIANT scotch egg (with bacon in it). It was incredible.My work colleagues laughed at me in wonder. I like food, what can I say! 

By 2.30pm everyone who wanted to get involved was changed and ready to share lifts to their destination. We arrived in short time to QECP and got going. The group was a nice mixed bunch of men and women, some super speedy and some less so. The pace was nice and easy though the hills were sharp and frequent. We actually followed some of the parkrun route. We’d stop and walk for a but so people could catch up or catch their breath and it was a lovely amble through the beautiful countryside. The trail was a bit muddy and slippy with some tree roots and rocks about but nothing too technical. I got to know a few more of my work buddies better and chat to people I didn’t know, which was just great. Some were avid ultra marathoners, some occasional parkrunners so it was a nice mix. I find it so easy to chat to people who I already have the common ground of running with.The 7k flew by and I felt great. A few of the guys suggested another 7k loop and after a moment’s deliberation (and a quick calculation of mileage) I decided to join. I think there were about seven of us in total that did the second loop. I was a bit worried that they’d shoot off as they were all quite speedy but hey promised not to leave me behind. And asides from the first 1km straight up a giant hill, it was fine and I felt quite comfortable running.We didn’t push the pace to any extremes but we didn’t stop this time. I actually felt really good. I forget how much I love running off-road and should really do it more.At the end we grabbed a quick drink in the cafe and then one of the guys drove me back to the office to collect my car. It was a lovely way to end the week!

I got back to my parent’s house (which is now where I live) and had a lovely hot shower and a light dinner. I say a light dinner only because my lovely mum and brought me back a few pieces of cake from her bake sale at the hospital where she works. A scone, a slice of Victoria sponge, a slice of lemon drizzle cake and a chocolate crispy cake…well I was done!The next morning I was up early to catch the train to Reading to meet up with my friend, George, who I used to work with at my old job (I also did the Tough Mudder event with him a while ago) and his fiancée. He’s such a nice guy (and his partner is lovely too!) and we’re very likeminded in our love of food. In fact they have a blog which they’ve recently just started (check out their CookNoBook Instagram). The plan was to do the Reading parkrun and then go for lunch. They’ve never done a parkrun before so I was more than happy to introduce them to it.Amazingly I got to theirs without a hitch and we headed to Thames Valley Park where the parkrun was held. It was super busy and cars were parked all along the road. We parked a little walk away and got there just before the first timer’s brief.The course is nice and flat and relatively simple. A straight run out over a small bridge and then two laps around the country park bit. It goes alongside the Thames and the rather was thankfully just a little chilly but the sky was blue.

Ala, George’s partner, isn’t a regular runner so was a little nervous but we were all looking forward to it. George is like a Duracell bunny and has tons of energy. He’s in good shape from lots of martial arts. I wedged myself towards the front so I wouldn’t get too crushed or held back and George and Ala headed further back. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel after the run the day before by as soon as we got going I felt good and decided just to see what I could do.

The first km or so is on grass and it was a little slippy but then you get onto more compact trail and it was fine, although with a few muddy patches and puddles to jump over.  As we got through the first loop I worked out what kind of speed I could hold onto and planned when to push the pace a bit more. It’s nice having two laps because you can be a bit more strategic about how you can pace without rinsing yourself too soon.As we came over the bridge again and headed on the finishing straight back to the beginning it did seem to go on forever however and it took a lot of effort to keep pushing. I managed to overtake a couple of people at the end and finished in 21:46 with a negative split. Very happy indeed. George, who I thought would overtake me at some point, was just behind in 22:01. Damn those two seconds! For his first parkrun and his first crack at running in a while that’s insane!! Nicely done indeed. Ala came in not too long behind us around 28 minutes. Again, this is amazing for her first parkrun and her not being a regular runner! I’m so happy for them! And they enjoyed it too 🙂 they said they felt very accomplished.From there we headed back to theirs to shower and get sorted. Then we headed out for some coffee, followed by lunch. The lunch spot, Bluegrass BBQ, was everything and more that I could have dreamed for. BBQ fodder at its best.We were eager beavers and actually had to walk round the block before the breakfast menu turned over to the lunch menu at 11:45. When it came to ordering, I went for the Boss Pit Platter with a side of frickles (fried pickles).My god it was good. I was glad I ventured away from my usual safe bet of just having ribs and having a platter of different things to try. There were baby back ribs, brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, 1/4 chicken, cobs and a mountain of chips. I traded George some brisket for one of his St. Louis ribs and I was all set!
I couldn’t manage all the chips or frickles but everything else was hoovered up. God it was good. No room for pudding though for once! We did a little bit of walking after lunch (an absolute necessity to help digestion…) and headed to a lovely local event called Reading Town Meal. It’s a great event supporting the local community and fresh produce. It had chefs in training from the Reading University cooking a two course meal FOR FREE for people to munch on. It was first come first serve. Obviously we didn’t need a meal by we did get a fruit crumble to share between us…though I could only a mange a couple of bites!
There was lots going on, like face painting, free cake decorating for kids, vegetable stands, bread and things like that. It was great! But I couldn’t even think to have any more cake sadly…as good as it looked! In fact, on my way back to the station I couldn’t even manage a free Hotel Chocolat chocolate! Who even am I?? I was a very full and happy bunny in my train back home (and for once, the right train!).

The next morning I met up with fellow Bournemouth Marathon trainees, Mike, Matt and Joe, and we headed out for a 10 mile run. It was quite humid and warm but otherwise good weather to run in. We all agreed that it might be nice to have a day like that for the marathon next week… But who knows eh!

We kept the pace conversational and it flew by. When we finished the 10 I wanted to carry on and do two to three more miles afterwards so waved goodbye to everyone.I just like to do 13 miles the week before a marathon, it just works for me doing half the distance. I also wanted to see how my legs felt running solo after a long run. I really don’t know where I am with my pace for this marathon so it was nice to see what my legs naturally felt like doing. I don’t think I’ll be running near the 8 mins though! But I’m just going to see how I feel on the day. If anything at the beginning feels too hard, I’ll slow it down. I’m not aiming for a PB (that would be foolish considering I’m not in that sort of shape!) but equally I think I can do a bit faster than a four hour marathon. We shall see.

How was your weekend?

Have you been to Reading recently? It’s got quite a nice selection of coffee shops and restaurants.

Do you enjoy a platter at a restaurant? I quite like a meze board for the variation.

Oxford parkrun review

It has been AGES since I had a parkrun review. I really must get back into them as they’re quite handy and I’ve done so many more since. I have my lovely friend Michelle (from the Austria Run Camp and used to be part of my running club) to thank for this post as she’s kindly written up a review of the Oxford parkrun. She’s now a DOCTOR (not only is she super fast but she’s super smart) and so this is now her local parkrun. Let’s get to it. (All photos are from CJ Photos found on their Facebook page).

Location

Oxford parkrun takes place in Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park which can be found on the far north of the city, just outside the ring road. The park itself is the largest in the city and has received a Green Flag Award.The 42 hectares of parkland are split into Cutteslowe Park to the north and Sunnymead Park to the south with a bridge joining the two. During World War II large parts of the park were used to grow vegetables and afterwards continued to be home to allotments. More recently this area of land is managed to provide community woodlands and a semi-natural wildlife area.Parking

There are two car parks available at the park; Harbord Road to the north edge of the park and the other at the south just off the A40 if you’re heading towards Headington. Both are pay and display however charges don’t come into effect until 10am.

The two main entrances to the park are also where the car parks are for those travelling by two wheeled or two footed transport. Oxford Parkway/Water Eaton park and ride is approximately a mile down the road so ideal for any keen bean wanting a mile warm up and cool down. From here you can then get either the bus or train into Oxford city centre and spend the rest of the day exploring oxfords colleges, shopping streets and cafes. The park and ride costs £2 to park for 11 hours and then bus is £2.80 return (although train is only £1.90 if you have a railcard!).

Amenities

Okay I’ll start by ticking off the two most important things…firstly yes there are toilets within the park. Secondly post parkrun coffee and cake is within eyesight of the finish line. The San Remo cafe located within the park is where everyone tends to head (I can’t vouch for it personally though having not been). If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous then there are several lovely cafes and bakeries in Summertown which is very close by (walking distance).Within the park itself are several children’s play areas, table tennis tables, a miniature railway, beach volleyball courts, a skate park and outdoor tennis courts. There are also cricket and multiple football pitches which are used by local football clubs on a Saturday morning. For hide and seek lovers there are several geocaches hidden within the park and a marked 18 point orienteering course. Or if you just want to be outdoors with nature there are areas of wildflowers, oriental flower beds, allotments and community woodland.

As well as the parkrun course there is also a 1 mile course marked around the park.

Course

The course itself starts in a northerly direction on an area of grass, your run 1 and 3/4 loops of the small grass field (marked with posts which you go around, a bit like a rounders pitch) and then you leave the field at the southernmost point to head out and complete 2 large laps of the park.The large laps start with a slight downhill on tarmac and then you turn left to follow the southern perimeter of the park on the grass. This is where you need to be careful as there are some rabbit holes and mole hills as well as the grass being slightly banked. After a short stretch of gravel path you turn onto the main open field which you follow the edge of for 3 edges of the square. Again, this is grass with a trodden “track” and signs marking the route. When I ran the course it was soft underfoot due to recent rain but I can imagine during winter to can become very muddy so don’t wear those new shiny trainers!!
When you get to the final edge of the field the grass track turns to a gravel path. This is the only real uphill on the course but is not steep and only about 200m long. At the top of the track you turn left onto a tarmac path which you then follow through a sharp right then an almost 180 degree left turn to complete the first large loop.Once you complete the second of the large laps you head back onto the grass after the tight left turn and straight into the finish funnel with just enough distance to get a sprint finish in.

Elevation

The graph below shows the overall elevation of the course.As I mentioned above there is only really one uphill and that last for approximately 200m but isn’t steep. Only thing is you do it twice. Otherwise I’d say the only thing slowing the course slightly is that it’s mostly grass underfoot and there are a few tight turns!

Number of participants

The largest turnout is 405 but on average there are 165 runners so it is a small parkrun for being located in a big city.There are often families, runners with buggies and runners with dogs taking part and the other facilities in the park make it an ideal family morning out!

Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages for updates and information!

Thank you Michelle, a fabulous review 🙂

If you’d like to do a parkrun review, please email me (annatheappleblog@gmail.com) and I’ll post it up!

Have you ever been to the Oxford parkrun?

Have you ever been to Oxford? I love it there. So British and lovely.

Life Check-In

So life lately. Asides from doing idiotic things in my spare time, life has been pretty good, albeit somewhat stressful.

Work

In terms of work, I’m still loving things. Now that schools have started again the traffic is heavier but it’s still nothing in comparison to my journeys to Basingstoke used to be. We’re still talking 30 minutes. This makes me extremely happy. Having more of an evening means I don’t feel like all I do is walk Alfie, eat and then go to bed. I can actually live a little. However this will be changing again as I’ve now moved back home to my parent’s house (more on this in a bit). Though they live closer to where I work, they actually live in a very annoying spot in terms of getting on to the motorway. So the likelihood is that I’ll get stuck in more traffic in the future. However, it still won’t be as bad as Basingstoke was I’m sure.

And the work itself? I’m loving it. So interesting and something I’m so keen to learn more and more about. Working in such a cool and friendly environment helps a lot as well. Not that my last place wasn’t friendly (I have some great friends I made there and keep in touch with) but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be now.

Moving

In terms of moving, I kind of left everything until the last moment. I mean, ehhh, don’t we all work a bit better with some adrenaline and looming, flashing deadline in front of us? I’m renting my flat out furnished so this did make things somewhat easier in terms of physically moving. But I still had a lot of “stuff” to move regardless. And cleaning. I’ve maintained a very high level of cleanliness in my flat (the letting agency commended it when they visited. I was proud) but there were still areas to clean of course. Cupboards, drawers, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

I had Friday and Monday off to master this moving process (while still having quite a busy weekend as well – I never make things easy for myself of course). Friday was literally pack my life away into my Fiat 500, and thankfully my dad’s larger car. I packed about half of my stuff (SO. MANY. CLOTHES. WHY) and then realised actually I had quite a lot of stuff.This giant Next bag and the big blue IKEA bags were my saviour. As everything was to fit into cars, rather than a van, it was all about squashability. Plus I didn’t actually have that many boxes. I’m also going through the very freeing process of becoming more minimalist. There’s nothing like packing to make you consider whether you want to actually move something or not. I’ve gotten rid of (well, donated to charity) a lot of old trainers, shoes, clothes, books, DVDs and random items.I’ve sold more expensive handbags on eBay and given away other stuff to friends (ahh smoothie maker, it’s been quite a while since I used you). So Friday, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were spent packing the last bits. As I had a busy day (mainly eating, it must be said) Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday, it was quite exhausting getting everything done.My flat was scrubbed clean; the fridge, the balcony glass panes, the windows (inside and out!), the oven, cupboards, bathroom, skirting boards…everything!It’s funny because I keep forgetting that it’s still going to be my flat. I can still move back there at some point in the future. I’m not selling it. So the level of sadness is minimal. I will of course miss it and I will miss my lovely cushty lifestyle there but I know this is the right thing to do. But jeeeesus was it tiring getting it all done. My parents helped where they could but they too were busy at the weekend and couldn’t have the time off of work. But I am an INDEPENDENT WOMAN, yes indeed. There is nothing like walking up and down two flights of stairs carrying heavy bags and boxes on your own to drill that into you.Running

By far the most interesting thing to discuss right? 😉 My running since the New Forest Marathon has been pretty good. Weirdly I’ve gone from the lone wolf runner who does most of her running solo, to someone who now regularly does her runs with other people. On Tuesday nights I’ve been running with a guy at work which has been nice. So far we’ve only run two four milers as we’ve both been recovering from high mileage at the weekend. But it’s been good regardless. It’s nice as well to chat to someone outside of work hours about work. I know that doesn’t sound great but for someone who would literally forget about work as soon as I left the building, to have interest and passion about what I do now means I’m genuinely interested in talking about it further.

Thursdays still see me running with my friend Mike. He’s always fun to run with and we often have good conversations regarding dating, life and the universe. It’s a bit like therapy 😉 Our recent run of 10k went by nicely. Though we both wondered how the hell we’d run regularly 7-9miles before. A marathon definitely takes it out of you. However, our splits were nicely around 8.30s rather than 9minutes so that was something.And Saturday is parkrun of couse. Speaking of adulting fails… I somehow managed to register myself TWICE. So when I’ve been scanning my barcodes recently I’ve been scanning a different Anna (it’s still me, but not my usual account, just one I created YEARS ago when I was just starting running outside). I only realised this when I went to see how many parkruns I’ve done and found I’d only done about five, which is wrong! Stupid me. I’ve sent an email to the lovely parkrun chaps but they said it was too time-consuming to change it. It’s fair enough, of course. This is my own error, but I’m still SO annoyed (at myself). This means I’ll be out of count for milestones… OK my next milestone is 250 which is over 100 parkruns away but STILL. And now I don’t have Brighton & Hove on my tourism list. ARGH.

But anyway, parkrun at Netley this week was nice. It was lovely weather and I did a nice negative split as I started feeling stronger as the run continued.

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I so much prefer to build up to speed than go out guns blazing. Though with 5ks if you want a really solid fast time you do need to be on the speed as soon as you start… but my body doesn’t really work like that for parkrun. I guess I could do more miles to warm-up but with helping set-up there’s never time. Plus I’m not too bothered by getting a super fast time these days!

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I look very much “in the zone” in that photo above – this was on the finishing straight. So my time was 22:19 which is not too shabby!I think we’ll be moving onto the dreaded winter course soon (which feels so much harder). I had to dash off quickly after finishing as I needed to get a bit more packing done before meeting my friend for lunch. I did get a cheeky photo though with our new sign. Very fancy shmancy indeed! My friend, Joe, decided to photobomb it which was quite amusing.I’ll do a recap of the Solent Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday in another post…

Basically, the Cliff Notes of the post is, my life is going well. I’m a very happy apple right now (yes I did just refer to myself as an apple). Things have slotted into place and life is feeling good.

Do you enjoy cleaning? This is a random question, but I actually love cleaning. I get so much satisfaction from it.

Do you like the people you work with? And the environment you work in?

How’s your running/exercising going?

My Brighton adventures: food and running, of course

There are a few cities in Britain that I have such a love for. One of those is Bristol, one is Cardiff (I went to university there and just love that city) and another is Brighton.

I mean there are so many lovely and interesting places in the UK, of course, but these places I hold dear because of the memories I’ve made there and the fun I continue to have. Through my new job I was lucky to acquire myself a ticket for the Brighton Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) conference. It’s funny because when I was in Brighton earlier this year for the 10k I remember walking past the big conference building and seeing the Brighton SEO sign and saying to my dad, “ahh I’d love to go to that”. And lo! and behold!

I had a somewhat stressful morning on the Friday I was going as I a) forgot to pack a bra (I was wearing my running clothes when I went to my parents as I ran the night before) and b) I didn’t leave myself enough time. I mean, this is standard Anna behaviour obviously. Luckily I had a fresh clean sports bra with me as I’d planned on running the next day in Brighton, priorities eh! And luckily it was a nice purple one which matched perfectly under my pink top – thank god I didn’t pack a bright yellow one!

Anyway, as I was late I literally had to jump out of my dad’s car at the train station (very grateful he gave me a lift) and run for the ticket machine. I mean, it was almost like fate that I was wearing a sports bra after all! Thankfully I made it with a few minutes to spare, albeit a little flustered, but boobs non-jiggled.I met my two colleagues on the train and on arrival at Brighton we walked from the station and to the conference. We grabbed a coffee en route because caffeine and headed inside for one of many interesting talks regarding search optimisation (all to do with digital marketing… topics such as what makes good content, micro influencers, virtual reality and voice technology with search and things like that).I felt overwhelming uncool amongst the very young and hip crowd that seemed to dominate the conference, but I held my head high and convinced myself I deserved to be there. But seriously, everyone looked very trendy and hipster. Beards ahoy!

There were lots of freebies, like cocktail ice lollies, sweets, beer and smoothies. In fact, it kind of reminded me of an Expo or that first day at university when everyone wants you to join their club.It was just all so interesting and exciting. I’m sure the novelty of this career area will wear off eventually but I’m just loving what I do right now. I find it fascinating.

For lunch we headed out into more central Brighton to avoid the crush of people exiting the conference with similar plans for food. We found a Wahaca and decided on there. I love Mexican food (well, the more mainstream version of it anyway). We got some tortilla chips and guacamole to share for starters and I ordered a chicken salad in a tortilla bowl with a side of sweet potatoes. It was all very tasty and felt like such a treat on a Friday afternoon. We then walked back to the conference to continue on with more talks. I parted ways with my colleagues as they’re from a different department and our talk choices weren’t the same. I noticed how suddenly there was a lot more free beer and Prosecco going on now it was post-lunch!I made the unwise decision to have a cheeky Prosecco and it took a lot more work for me to concentrate during a particularly dull talk (ironically on content optimisation…). After struggling it out for a few more talks I decided to leave. The weather was lovely and I walked down the Brighton prom to meet my friend, Charlotte. I’d already pre-arranged to stay over her and her husband’s flat that evening. It was so nice to be able to see her so randomly in the week. Normally I’d need to wait until our usual uni meet-ups but since I was in Brighton already it made sense.We headed back to her house where Charlotte and her husband (Paddy) ordered pizzas and I ordered a Deliveroo from a really tasty Arabian restaurant. ALL THE MEAT.It was so tasty. Lots of skewers, koftas and chicken wings on a bed of rice with the tiniest side salad. The meat to salad ratio was quite a way off! Even after all that food I was still good to go for a nice walk and an ice cream down the seafront. I went for a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of raspberry cheesecake. Delicious!
It was such a lovely evening of good food, catching up and easy TV watching. Perfect.

The next morning we got up relatively early to walk down to the Brighton and Hove parkrun. Charlotte lives in the luxurious position of being a relatively short walk from the Hove Prom parkrun and the Brighton and Hove parkrun. And you know what? She doesn’t even do parkrun! She also informed me of a fantastic life hack…the local Furniture Village next to the park has free FRESHLY BAKED cookies when it opens. OK so they are meant to be for browsing customers but still 😉 Sadly I didn’t quite have the time to “browse” that morning, what a shame!

 

Brighton and Hove parkrun is run in the lovely Hove Park. It’s all run on tarmac and is fairly undulating. It’s 2.5 laps of the park and is a nice one for spectators as they can easily see the runners several times. Unfortunately I missed Charlotte and Paddy cheering me on TWICE. I don’t know how I didn’t spot them! Apparently I looked like I was “in the zone” so maybe I was just too focused.I did a short warm-up (it was quite chilly once we’d stopped walking) and then headed to the start. I heard the lady in front of me saying she wasn’t going to make Spin after parkrun… Wow that’d be keen! Anyway I had told myself just to run how I felt and at the start I got caught up in the excitement and realised I was running fairly quickly.
That was soon put to an end as we reached the first incline. The inclines were gradual and fairly long… but it was a beautiful course and the downhills were nice.I felt strong and attempted to pick people off in front of me. A man with a buggy zoomed past me and I tried to keep him in my sights, though never managed to catch up with him. There were a few supporters cheering us round which was nice and strangely a man on the sidelines counting us as we ran past (I remember a man doing this at the New Forest Marathon as well actually – is this a new thing??).

I managed a nice negative split, though my lungs were burning. My time was 21:51 which I was so pleased with! I haven’t had such a fast time in ages. It was also really nice to have my friends there at the finish line as well, though I was dying at this point.Then we said goodbye and I had to quick march to the train station (with a Starbucks stop en route of course). I just made my train… well, might as well finish how I started this trip eh!Sunday saw me waking up at the lovely time of 8.15am to meet my running friends for a long run. A few of us were meeting a fellow Bournemouth marathon trainee half-way through his run in order to help him through his 20 miler.I only really wanted 8-12 miles. I ran to the meeting spot, which was only 1.5 miles away and then met up with the running crewWe ran a lovely, albeit undulating, route through to Southampton and back round again. This did mean, of course, running across the dreaded Itchen Bridge (if you’ve ever done the Southampton 10k/half/marathon you’ll know about this). It wasn’t too bad. The run was really nice and relaxed and I managed to chip out 12 miles exactly in the end.Then the rest of the day was spent walking Alfie and packing to move out. Not particularly relaxing I must say… but needs must!

Do you go to work conferences?

Do you get Deliveroo in your area? I don’t, so it’s always a treat when I’m staying somewhere that does (probably for the best I don’t get it in my area though!)

Do you have any cheeky life hacks?