Double parkrun – Havant and QECP

One thing I love about the festive period is the chance to rack up quite a few more parkruns than you ordinarily would be able to.

There’s the Christmas day parkrun AND the double New Year’s Day parkrun, on top of the usual Saturday ones. Three bonus ones! In total, five parkruns within two weeks. Pretty good going.

Last year I was sadly unable to do the double day on NY because I was slightly injured (or at least, I was being sensible and not aggravating a niggle). Instead I plunged myself into the sea – a horrific but weirdly fun experience. I have to say, I was glad to give it a swerve this year!

As I was staying over Kyle’s for New Year’s Eve it made sense to go to his local parkruns rather than drive over 40 minutes to get to Netley (and then proceed to Southampton for the double). Havant parkrun is literally just round the corner, and then QECP a mere 10 minute drive from there. It made sense.

New Year’s Eve itself was good fun. Kyle has a large family and we played lots of games (if you’ve never played Doble you really must, it’s brilliant) and ate lots of good food. I had a takeaway kebab and chicken wings, I was in heaven.

So after a rather late night the alarm going off at 8.20am was bad enough! But Kyle and I got ourselves together, drove to Staunton Country Park, where the Havant parkrun happens and ambled to the start.

We were somewhat shocked to find that the parkrun had already begun (by my watch, a good 2 minutes early!). Usually you can count on Havant waffling for a bit and not actually starting on time… but I guess people were keen to get to the next parkrun on time. This did mean that I had to rip my coat off and throw it to a nearby tree and we had to start running straight away. To be honest, it was all a bit of a fluster! I was only asleep less than an hour ago…what a wake up!

Havant parkrun is a tough course. Not only is it uphill most of the way (albeit gently, but it’s there) with quite a sharp and scary downhill section (there’s even a sign to warn you) but the stony ground is very uneven so it takes a lot of concentration to keep you from losing your footing or doing your ankle over.

The weather was cold, crisp and dry so this was a relief (especially as the entirely off-road QECP was next). We spent the first mile pretty much overtaking and winding as we were some of the few who started late. Then on mile two we got into a nice rhythm. I saw a few people I knew from my running club which was nice!

It’s two and a bit laps so it does go fairly quickly (mentally at least) and on the final stretch we pushed the pace and had a tasty sprint finish. Whew! Our times were identical at 25:16, (though my watch time was 24:55). One down, one to go.

There was no great rush to zoom over to QECP as the 2nd parkrun didn’t start until 10.30am and the journey was super short. However there was a long queue to get into the car park. We parked and got ourselves together and had a far more leisurely start than Havant, chatting to people I knew and trying to keep warm. Usually QECP attracts around 100 or so runners, but today it was over 400 and it was practically buzzing!

Though Kyle and I had run together at Havant we decided to do our own thing for this parkrun. And being so busy it would be tricky to run easily together. The first section of the course is a bit mental: you run straight uphill which is an absolute GRIND. Then you turn the corner and run immediately downhill at rather breakneck speed. The course is pretty much entirely on grassy tracks and a good chunk you’re either running uphill or downhill. It’s not for the faint of heart.

I found my legs were far more into running at this point than they were for Havant. I’ve been trying hard to let myself go a bit more during the downhills – basically allow gravity to do a bit more of the work rather than working against it and breaking as I go down. I found myself flying past the more cautious runners and used the momentum to carry me along the flatter and then uphill sections.

I embraced the horrendous uphill on the second lap once again and kept pushing. I was shocked to see a 5.30min/mile as I rocketed downhill – which obviously quickly disappeared as soon as I got to flatter sections. But hey, it was cool to briefly see! Finally I got to the long, slightly inclined, finally straight and pushed to a 23:03 finish. Hurrah!

Kyle finished just behind at 24:33. I found it somewhat amusing that a young girl almost overtook him at the finish-line because compared to Kyle’s 6ft3 she looked positively miniature 😉

We were both very chuffed to have gotten the double parkrun done and felt immensely satisfied at starting 2019 in such a positive way. This year I hope to get more parkrun tourism completed, but also continue to go to Netley as well. I feel I’ve neglected it a bit recently and I do miss it when I don’t go for a while – mainly the people of course, not necessarily those hills on the winter course!

Did you do the double NY parkrun?

Do you like to do more parkrun tourism or stick to your home one?

How did you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

New Year’s Day Swim

New Year’s Eve was pretty quiet this year. No big parties, getting drunk and waking up with a hangover.

Instead I had a lovely evening with the family playing games and eating good food. Sadly I missed parkrun on Saturday due to my calf. With Dubai being so close I don’t want to turn a niggle into an injury. I know I can run the marathon and that I have enough time to let the calf sort itself out IF I’m sensible. But if I try and push through the tightness and discomfort then it could become something serious and I won’t be able to run Dubai.

So I was sensible. I went to the gym instead (something I don’t do at the weekend) and spent some quality time on the elliptical machine. The weather was fairly awful over the weekend with windy showers so actually I wasn’t too sad to miss a cold and blustery run. I watched The Sinner and got in some solid cardio. Of course nothing beats parkrun in terms of those warm, fuzzy feelings and the social elements of it but with Dubai creeping closer and the motivation for the gym at its best during the morning, parkrun had to be missed.

I knew I wouldn’t be doing the double parkrun on New Year’s Day either, as much as I’d loved to have gone. I was quite down about it but decided instead of moping I’d do something completely different to take my mind off of it. As I live near the Solent I’d often heard about people taking a dip in the sea on New Year’s Day. I decided I’d give it a go! I’m not really a swimmer – I can swim, I just don’t enjoy it (it’s such a faff, especially with my hair and I don’t get any sort of runner ‘s high-like feeling from it) and I really am not a fan of swimming in the sea. But it would be a challenge and an experience.

Initially I thought I’d just go down to the beach and do it on my own – or with a mini support crew that is my parents and granddad. But my mum mentioned that the Lifeboat people (GAFIRS) do an organised event at Stokes Bay every year. That sounded far better. The thought of doing it on my own sounded horrific, but with a bunch of other people it sounded…fun? All I had to do was register online and show up at 11.45am.

This was ideal as it meant I could go to the gym in the morning to do some cross-training beforehand (effectively doing what I would be doing if I had gone to parkrun) and then eat breakfast and go to the beach. Luckily Stokes Bay is close so it wasn’t a trek to get there.Unfortunately it was tipping it down!IMG_2403I’d decided to keep it simple and wear my running shorts and a sports bra as I knew wearing anything more would only make things worse with the cold water. Basically, wearing less is better! Though when we arrived and I spotted lots of people wearing fancy dress.
IMG_2402I was quite envious of the people wearing onesies or who were more covered up – they looked far warmer. Of course I had my layers on beforehand thankfully and my dad ready to hold on to them when I went it. I had my flipflops on (the best I could do at such short notice) and a thick towel in a bag ready with some dry clothes as well to put on. I was very well prepared.IMG_2411My mum and granddad found a good spot on the side of the beach with the other spectators. My granddad made me laugh later when he said my mum was “lethal” with her umbrella. She’s quite short and I don’t think she was quite aware of how many people she was poking…The GAFIRs had put on a great welcome for everyone with hot drinks, cakes, snacks and even a steaming buffet of chili! As someone who lives near the sea I fully appreciate the work these guys do. The lifeboats and the coastguard must work in some terrible conditions at times. So this event is fantastic at helping raise money for their charity.IMG_2404.jpgAt 11:50 they told us to get ready and stand on the slipway. There were almost 400 people that were going to be entering the water so things needed to be fairly well organised. There were lots of spectators huddled under umbrellas and photographers taking our photo.IMG_2405It was funny because I got my dad to take a quick photo on the slipway in my “swimming gear” and suddenly about four photographers started taking my photo too… You can see my dad in the background looking a bit awkward (and slightly Russian…) haha!
IMG_2466Not my best look it must be said!IMG_2465But anyway, we all stripped down to our gear and got ready on the slipway. My feet by this point were freezing. I’d been in my flipflops from the beginning and the cold rain had really chilled them to the bone. We stood like penguins together, all shivering and honestly I would have cuddled up to anyone I could at that point I was so cold. Big burly men were looking rather appealing! The organiser on the megaphone told us it would be eight minutes before we’d be released. WHAT. There was a huge collective groan from everyone as we realised we’d be standing there in the cold for a while. Others around me were dressed in a wetsuits (cheating really), swimsuits, trunks, fancy dress and everything in between. Two lovely ladies next to me said their children had signed them up to do it which made me laugh.

What felt like an eternity later we were told “five minutes to go”. At this point I was hopping up and down and rubbing my arms furiously to try and not die (well, that’s what it seemed like it anyway). It’s funny because the whole set-up felt a bit like a pre-race bit. The excitement, nerves, the huddles of people…OK half-naked people but people with intentions anyway! The only thing was I knew in 10 minutes time I wouldn’t be warmer, as I would be in race, I would be very much colder.

FINALLY we counted down 10 seconds and then the ribbon was lifted (by the Mayor of Gosport no less – no she wasn’t going in) and we all stumbled/ran/walked into the water. I mean, it was cold but it wasn’t like Jack floating in the ocean cold. In fact, the water was warmer, so they said, than the temperature outside. But it was still bloody freezing. The shock of it as it hit your skin was really quite something.IMG_2423Everyone was screaming, splashing and laughing and it was rather exhilarating. I made sure to fully plunge myself in (though not my head; they warned us from doing this because we might go into shock!). I felt my flipflops slip off my feet as I stepped forward, but there was no way I was going back for them. And then I quickly got myself out of there. To climb the pebbly shore back to the slipway was SO painful. My feet were in agony, they were so cold.

Bless my dad he practically ran over to me and then quickly wrapped the towel around me (though in his haste he did manage to drop my clean, dry clothes into the puddles then step on them *sighs*). We then huddled in the doorway to the lifeboat centre while I got a bit warmer. Everyone around us was in the same boat (excuse the pun): freezing, a bit in shock but, as I was, very much happy. It was a fantastic experience!IMG_2408The only bad part was my walk back to the car, which really wasn’t far away but my feet were now in agony. My big toes had gone numb and it was just awful. My mum tried to guide me back but she was walking too quickly (I say “quickly” but really we were crawling along) and she had to slow down further for me. My granddad had gone ahead to warm up the car – the invalid that I was now!IMG_2409It might have been nice to have hung around a bit and chatted to the other people but it was just so cold and the rain was still coming down so we thought it best to head off. I was very grateful for the warm car – though really it was only my feet that were still frozen. The rest of me felt quite invigorated. My dad gave me his fluffy hat to put my feet in, bless him.

I went straight for a hot shower after getting home. This sounds like a broken record now, but the pain of the hot water on my feet was almost worse! The bottom of my toes were tingling awfully. Would I do it again? Absolutely! It was such a thrill and full of comradery with the other people. But next time I would DEFINITELY wear better shoes – like those wetsuit style ones. They’d be far better! I would also probably wear fancy dress because, well, it’s a bit more a laugh then! 😉

The rest of the day, after finally getting warm and my feet feeling normal again, we spent dog walking, playing games and enjoying a delicious chicken roast dinner.IMG_2412Obviously it would have been lovely to have started the year with a run but the swim was fantastic. Plus my calf is feeling far better so I’m not stressed 🙂

Have you ever done a New Year’s Day swim?

Do you like swimming in the sea?

Did you do the double parkrun?

Christmas and New Year

Yes I’m so behind on how my Christmas and New Year went… I decided to take a good break from blogging during that time so I could chill a bit.

So here’s a recap of how my Christmas and New Year went. Sadly Ben was ill pretty much from that day before Christmas eve to New Year’s eve. He had lots of fevers and a horrid cough. He had barely any appetite for food or alcohol (which is totally unheard of for Ben) as well so it was a bit of a downer on the festivities. But we still had a good time regardless.

On Christmas day we headed to my parent’s house with Ben’s mum and Alfie. My parents have three dogs of their own and they all get on together really well so it was a fun time for Alfie too, bless him. My dad and me were in charge of cooking so we got down to some preparations and putting things in oven. Thank goodness they have a double oven as the amount we needed to put in there was ridiculous: the turkey, two different sorts of potatoes, two types of stuffing, sausages wrapped in bacon, parsnips and carrots. There was a lot of food!

While that was cooking away we had some buck’s fizz and opened a few presents. This year Ben and me didn’t do big presents for each other because we’re going to the States so soon after Christmas that we thought we’d rather find something out there instead. I received a lot of lovely gifts from my mum and dad and Ben’s mum though.

Then time for lunch!

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We had a nice light starter of melon and prosciutto ham. Though I just stuck to melon purely because I wanted to maximise stomach space for the good stuff 😉 For me it’s all about the main course.

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Christmas lunch is one of my favourite meals of the year. I adore turkey, cranberry sauce, all the veg, stuffing and gravy. I’m not a potato fan but everything else is fair game.

IMG_8889I pretty much went back for seconds of everything. So good. And because my parents are amazing and they know how much I love this meal, they let me take a good amount of turkey and leftovers home with us so I could enjoy the meal again and again. Heaven.

After lunch we went for a nice walk down the beach with the dogs. I say “we” but I mean the females in the family as Ben wasn’t up for walking and my dad felt he needed to stay behind with Ben and keep him company on the Xbox *sighs*.

The walk was lovely. There were so many people out and about as well.IMG_8895 We kept Alfie on his lead purely because he has a tendency to run after anything that takes his interest.

IMG_8890Then when we got home we had some pudding. There were profiteroles, panacotta, Christmas pudding and trifle. I went for trifle which I’d been looking forward to for ages. I was bitterly disappointed to find that I find I really didn’t like it. Apparently I don’t like sherry trifles, only strawberry ones! So I settled for my dependable two apples.

We later played the best board game in the world. The Logo Board Game (not an affiliate link – it’s just to show you how awesome it is). It’s basically asking lots of questions about brands and logos, from Heinz to Fairy Liquid. It’s brilliant and so much fun. While playing that I had some stollen after feeling so cheated from the trifle and it was lovely. The wholemeal flour had made it quite dense though so definitely will keep to white flour next time!

And that was Christmas day. The following days were spent just chilling and really not doing very much. Ben was still ill so we used this quality time to catch up on movies (Edge of Tomorrow – brilliant!, Maleficent, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and some old favourites like The Mummy and the Mummy Returns) while also getting through loads of True Blood (really good, but fairly raunchy and gory).

IMG_8902New Christmas socks and my liquid of choice, Fanta Zero

I made a lot of use of the leftovers as well, recreating the Christmas dinner twice.

IMG_8897 And when all the trimmings were used up I made a BBQ turkey stir fry. LITERALLY the best thing I’ve eaten in ages.

IMG_8898 So good. I then ran out of turkey. I’m very tempted to buy a turkey crown just to relive the experience again…too much? Maybe so.

We also went to Windsor to see Ben’s dad before New Year as well and had a lovely meal in Bella Italia and caught up with him. Though we had a nightmare journey there; it took three hours in total to drive a one hour fifteen minute journey because of an accident on the motorway and then having a mare finding a parking space. But it was a lovely day regardless.

New Year’s eve we went to my parent’s house for a cheeky Indian take away and another round of the Logo Board Game. We had planned to go to a friend’s house for a party but Ben still felt ill so we felt it best to have a quiet one with the parentals. My granddad was down from Stoke-On-Trent as well so it was lovely seeing him and he really enjoyed the game too (honestly, it’s a game for everyone because it’s all stuff you could know).

New Year’s eve day we met up with Ben’s mum for a lovely 5.5 mile walk through the New Forest.IMG_8931 It was a lovely walk. Not too cold but lovely and crisp. Alfie loved all the mud.

IMG_8941 When we came home we gave Alfie a good scrub in the bath and dried him off with my hair dryer (he couldn’t work out if he enjoyed it or not I think) and then we headed back to Ben’s mum’s for lunch. Round two!

IMG_8944 This time it was a bird in a bird in a bird, which is always very tasty as you get three different types of meat.

IMG_8945 One of my favourite vegetables are broad beans and it’s become a funny tradition to have them around Christmas. I could literally eat them forever.

Then we played Rummiekub which is a number game sort of like cards, sort of like scrabble (see HERE for a good explanation). We all decided a games day was needed as we only ever play board games and games like this around Christmas. This needs to change!

Aaaaand that’s it. I really enjoyed our very low-key holiday, though I was sorry Ben was ill. It was nice though to curl down and watch lots of movies and True Blood. I did lots of walking with Alfie (keeping my steps over 12,000 a day) and enjoyed the gym as well so I definitely got a good balance of relaxing and keeping fit. Mentally and physically I feel fresh and ready for the year ahead!

What’s your favourite part of the Christmas meal?

How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

Do you do anything on New Year’s Day?