Normally, I’d have thought it a bit weird. Seeing that grown man in the buff bunny hopping. (Not that sort of ‘in the buff’ honestly, how old are you? No sniggering, it’s not even an original joke for heaven’s sake!) Now however, my running repertoire has extended sufficiently to see the value of drills as part of a warm-up routine, I barely gave it a second thought. Besides which, the whole point of parkrun is, as we know, that we respect everybody’s right to participate in their own way, so if he had decided he wanted to bunny hop the whole way round, who am I to judge? If he had, I’d have been seriously awe-struck though, bunny hopping at length is way harder than you imagine, and that’s just taking account of the physical demands it makes on the body, I’m not even factoring in the mental tenacity it requires to undertake this exercise in public and retain any sense of self-worth. Here was a man made of Steel surely. Probably that buff was a Steel City Striders’ Buff and a badge of honour, these runners are so self-assured and focused they will do whatever it takes to excel. You have to be hardcore to bunny-hop well, and in public, believe me – and if you don’t, check out this guy – the photo speaks for itself! There’d be no messing with this bunny I’m sure…
Also, whilst I’m on the topic of running drills, it turns out that for some running is indeed a one-legged sport – look. If the runner’s expression is anything to go by, it isn’t just me who has been taken by surprise at this revelation – 5k is a very long way to go on just one leg, I think he’d only hopped round the first lap at this point:
Oh, you want to know about the blood? Yep, that’s a bit shocking really. The full story will be revealed early next week, but suffice to say that I was doing a bit of DIY clothing alterations (another thing for which I have no innate aptitude) when my hand slipped. I was using a sharp pair of scissors to make a hole in some fabric and when the material finally gave way the scissors went through with a jolt and I nearly took the top of my finger off with a single slice. Not only did this really, really hurt, I couldn’t believe the amount of blood. It just got everywhere. I wondered briefly if I should get a stitch put in, but decided basically I couldn’t be bothered, and anyway might be better served if I could just get a really tight dressing on it to stop the bleeding. Now, it may come as a surprise to you to hear that I’m not in fact medically qualified, but many years ago I was working at a B&B in Anglesey (another long story, ask me some time) and whilst trimming a horse’s tail managed to cut through the base of my index finger with some even sharper scissors. It was a much worse cut, right through to reveal the white sinewy fibres in my finger whatever they are. I don’t think it was worms, tendons of some sort I suppose. Anyway, the woman I was working for at the time happened to be married to a consultant haematologist who worked at Bangor hospital. I went into the kitchen pumping blood everywhere, and trying not to faint, only to find he was there with two haematologist friends/colleagues. The three of them used their collective wisdom to treat me. Basically, they bound up my finger really, really tightly, after running it under the tap for a bit, and said to just leave the dressing on for as long as I possibly could. A week or so later and my finger was restored to its former glory. It hadn’t been noticeably glorious in the first place to be honest, so it was a fairly low bar to meet, all the same, I was delighted to find it didn’t fall off, I didn’t get septicaemia and it was working fine. I still have quite a good scar, but no dexterity problems some twenty years later. This made me think I should attempt the same treatment option this time. Unfortunately, it turns out it is quite hard to do this on your own, and blood gets everywhere. Blood spots trailing through the flat, culminating in a literal as well as metaphorical bloodbath on reaching the bathroom. I swear I have had the antibacterial spray and kitchen towel out three times since the injury trying to clear up the blood and I still keep seeing splashes up the walls, and around the taps which I must have previously missed. If I should disappear and the police do a forensic trawl of my flat they will conclude I have been the victim of a violent abduction it’s insane! How people can dismember whole bodies in their bathrooms and seriously believe they will be able to dispose of them without detection I just can’t imagine. Although, maybe dismembering isn’t such an issue, corpses don’t bleed, it would be the initial stabbing that would be problematic, maybe said killers have thought things through a bit more than me? It’s possible I suppose… I may have to Google ‘how to deep clean your bathroom when it is covered with blood‘ but worry that could be misconstrued. Some things are not open to misinterpretation however. FYI, through the wonders of WordPress automated stats, I know some poor anonymous soul used the Google search term ‘dogging in Dovedale‘ and got directed to my blog! Apologies to that reader, I fear their search was in vain. My bathroom looked a bit like this picture by the way, but without the strange guy standing motionless in the midst of all the blood letting and carnage. Nightmare.
So how does this relate to parkrun? Well, it relates to parkrun because my finger bloody hurts, and makes me feel quite nauseous, so I did wonder about running at all today. Then again, I thought of Smiletastic, and how feeble it would sound if I had to write a note to my team mates along the lines of ‘I’m really sorry I didn’t nab a bonus point for doing a timed run today, but I cut my finger‘ lawks a lordy there are hard core runners bunny hopping in public out there, I should be able to hobble round with a plaster round my finger tip and just a few attention-gaining blood smears down my top. It was a bit disappointing then to find that my two breakfast buddy runners were sporting a broken arm and an actively bleeding cut on a hand respectively. They win on the actual injuries front, though I reckon I had the most severe case of Manchausen’s Syndrome which is something I suppose… Also, on the plus side, I learned a new thing. Did you know that you are in possession of not one, but probably two, anatomical snuff boxes? No? Me neither, but we are, as long as you are in possession of two arms with hands still attached! Isn’t that wonderful? Just when you may be thinking life has nothing more to offer, you despair of discovering any new life-affirming novel experience ever again, you can still be caught unaware by some great mysterious new thing that sparks you back to enthusiasm. Just listen out. Life can be full of new discoveries even without a subscription to Reader’s Digest. There may be more on this later, or there may not. I haven’t decided. I probably should talk a bit about running first.
So parkrun. Of course. I made my way down despite threatening storm clouds overhead and throbbing digit on my hand. There seemed to be a particularly big turn out today, whether that was because Smiley Non-Smiley was celebrating her 200th parkrun so everyone was out to support her, or whether it was because some random academic had come from the University of Nottingham to talk about his HALO research into runners’ knees it was hard to be sure. At first I didn’t see too many people I knew, mainly because I’m short and couldn’t see over the heads of others, because afterwards it was apparent that many were there. I was thwarted in my precautionary pee by a blocked loo that meant I had to join the queue for the other (only) ladies, but on the plus side got chatting to some others whilst waiting. We had that age – old debate about not even being sure if we really needed one, but somehow being unable to resist, like a dog in sight of a heap of sausages, just can’t walk on by a public convenience on the way to a run. I know I’m not alone in this, because I recently saw a discussion forum about parkrun tourism where a poster had asked for recommendations as to where to go. She stipulated an open loo pre the start as an essential pre-requisite for any suggestions – I am with her on that. Some compromises just should never be made.
In the start funnel, I ended up next to some women who were expressing the hope it would rain. I didn’t share this desire. Turns out they believe they always do better in the rain. To be fair I do generally get better times when the weather is vile, but I think it’s because there are fewer slower runners committed enough to turn out in inclement conditions, so I get swept along by the more serious and speedier runners. I then espied a fellow Smiley who has just come out as having signed up for the Wingerworth Wobble, so felt the need to go and chat to her for a bit. We had quite companionable chat for a bit, and then the conversation turned ugly, briefly. It was all a misunderstanding though. Suddenly my fellow Smiley went all serious on me ‘you haven’t come back to run with me have you?’ she asked accusingly, with a distinctly hostile air. I was able to reassure her ‘God no, I can’t talk and run at the same time, I fully intend to ignore you the whole way round and quite possibly afterwards as well!’ Immediately her demeanour softened, she looked reassured and visibly relaxed to hear this. It seems I am not alone with the inability to multi-task when talking and running are concerned. It’s good to be able to have these candid discussions with fellow club runners, makes you realise we are evolving common tactics.
So usual pre race blah de blah, clapping, thanks volunteers, respect other users, anniversary runs, research, you know the drill. Finally, count down three, two, one OFF! And rather slowly we picked our way forwards. It was a bit of a crush at the start, there’s not much to be done about that quite frankly, to get the 5k distance running route options are limited. I may not be the speediest of runners at the start, but at least I was running in the right direction. It’s funny, I feel like my running hasn’t improved one iota since I started, but it must have, I’m not making the rookie error of going the wrong way at least. That runner is courageous though, I’ll give him that:
I’m not too bothered about times so just plodded along, puddle sploshing and avoiding the dog poo bin (thank you marshal) until it opened out, which it didn’t really. I had a reflective run today, a few passing pleasantries exchanged with runners as they passed me or I passed then. I did some rubber necking when the front runners got far ahead enough that I could see them sprinting by the other side of the railing on Rustlings Road whilst I was still scampering along in the park by the pond. I was keeping an eye out of Smiley Non-Smiley in eager anticipation of spotting her accompanying balloons to celebrate her milestone achievement. It was to no avail, most disappointing… Though fortunately our splendid, tame and highly trained member of the paparazzi was on hand to document her in action instead. This is what it feels like to have hit the 200 mark apparently. Forewarned is forearmed.
I appreciate she wasn’t sure whether or not she’d be able to get a balloon that said ‘200’ on it, but I reckoned she should be able to run with three balloons – one number two and a couple of zeros, or if that was too hard, then just get two-hundred helium filled balloons to run with as a more practical option. Couldn’t spot her though, maybe the balloons had made her float away entirely? I was going to have to wait to the end of parkrun to find out. Oooh, the suspense, it can be killing.
The other main event on the run round took place actually running on Rustlings Road. I was happily(ish) running along when suddenly a tall guy in front started running backwards. It was completely unexpected and therefore disproportionately hilarious to me. I found myself saying out loud, ‘well that’s just showing off!’ and very pleasingly, at that very moment another woman spotted it too and expressed the same sentiment. The guy had the grace to give us a winning smile of acknowledgement and then turned to face frontwards and ran on. Didn’t see him again, maybe running backwards is the new forwards?
On reflection, I probably shouldn’t have said anything, we should all remember to ‘respect everyone’s right to participate in their own way‘. Maybe as an act of solidarity and respect I will run the whole thing backwards next week. Or maybe not. I haven’t decided. Actually, turns out there are dedicated running backwards races. Who knew? What’s more, it is claimed on some random website somewhere that ‘Backwards running is like a drug — once you start, you’ll never want to run forwards again. It’s truly liberating, and there are enormous health benefits‘ so it must be true. I’m not going to research this too carefully, in case it turns out to be nonsense. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially when posting on one’s blog. Besides which, backward running exists as a thing on Wikipedia, so that means loads, of course.
Apart from that a fairly unremarkable parkrun. Ooh, hang on there was one other thing, as I sprinted past one of the Marshals with my customary breathless ‘thank you marshal‘ I heard him shout after me ‘keep on smiling’ which was very nice, but made me reflect it wasn’t entirely accurate. I don’t think I was noticeably smiling at that point. I need to work on it. It must be a simple matter of co-ordination, it should be possible to do both simultaneously, in theory at least! Maybe I should incorporate smiling whilst I run into my training drills, along with running backwards? I also spotted the lovely George a bit belatedly whilst running round. He was a stealth photographer today. I say ‘lovely’ but I might change that adjective once his shots go live. But irrespective of his parkrun offerings today he got a very fine snap of a kingfisher in the park earlier in the week, almost as good as nabbing a duck shot in my book. Almost. Plus, aren’t we lucky to have our very own pair of kingfishers in our midst. Sheffield is a fab place to live, it really is.
I kept an eagle eye out for other Smiley, or more specifically rival Smiletastic runners. I espied someone wearing a customised 200 parkrun top which was pretty awesome, and only got lapped at the very end of the first loop so that’s progress of a sort.
Completing the second lap I spotted my temporarily non-running running buddy cheering us round the last loop despite sporting a plaster cast on her arm. Darn that anatomical snuff box and its pesky breakage. At that point my other running running buddy (the one with bloodied hands) was on my heels and that spurred me on a bit to a sprint finish. I was sort of hoping we’d both pick up speed together and finish simultaneously, I’m convinced she’s a stronger runner than me, but I seem to never try so hard at running that I have nothing left at the end, so one again I managed to find an extra spurt of speed that got me round just a few seconds ahead. Into the warm embrace of the finish funnel, lots of familiar faces pouring congratulations on us, and my first sighting of the Smiley Non-Smiley claimant of her two hundredth run!
On the plus side, firstly she had completed her run (yay!) and secondly she was handing out celebration chocolates (I had a mini twix) with gay abandon, so that was pretty good. On the down side, CATASTROPHE, she broke the news to me that she has finally given into the inevitable and sent in her application for membership to Smiley Paces. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted she has finally seen the light and done the necessary, it was always only a matter of time. But what will this mean for my blog. I think she’ll have to now be known as Extra Smiley Smiley (200) Formerly Known As Smiley Non-Smiley for the purposes of this blog. It doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue (or keyboard) does it, and the acronym ESSFKASNS isn’t much of an improvement either. I shall need to mull it over. She is forgiven though, because she is now an insider and about time too.
Most conveniently, we had our very own event photographer on hand to take some action shots of parkrunners in action – thank you lovely George. So here is a medley of some of my personal favourites from today – though I feel compelled to point out that the synchronised levitation shot is really just showing off – though annoyingly, also quite impressive too. Look out for the agony and the ecstasy personified shot too, that’s good, as well as the random cute dog. It is cute, and is some small compensation for the omission of any duck shots this week:
So running part of the run completed there was a chance to catch up. I learned that my running buddy with the broken arm has actually broken a small (but important) bone in her hand known as… (drum roll)…. (have you guessed it yet)…. THE ANATOMICAL SNUFF BOX and what’s more that’s exactly what it is. I can’t believe I have a new body part of which I was previously unaware. What’s more, when Extra Smiley Smiley (200) Formerly Known As Smiley Non-Smiley or Essy, as I’ll call her for now, was hearing about this she KNEW WHAT IT WAS! There is a parallel universe of phyios and medics who are familiar with this term. How come nobody has told me about it before, I am outraged. Still, better late than never I suppose. It is a slight disappointment to me that my hands are so chubby that my anatomical snuff box is not all that pronounced, but for some, wow it’s awesome. You have to try and find your own. It’s easy enough, it is that indentation between tendons in your hand where you might have deposited snuff prior to snorting it, were you so inclined, in Victorian times. I wonder why snuff taking fell out of fashion? Imagine, you too could look like these splendid specimens:
So stories were exchanged. That parkrun by the sea Crosby parkrun which sounded fab – our Smiley parkrun tourist was also first woman home last week, get Smilies! You get to run out and back on a beach AND you get to see the iconic iron man too. One to go on my bucket list I think, and possibly on the day I do it, I may take a bucket with me too, you can’t go to a sandy beach and not bag a sandcastle whilst you are there. It is a bit weather dependent though – too much wind and the volunteers get sand blindness, and too much sea and you get drowned, not good for pbs, not good at all.
So other exciting things happened at the end too. I got to put on my fleece and Trust10 pink bobble hat for a start. Someone actually came to say hello to me to ask if I was the woman with the blog! I was very excited. This must be what it is like to be famous. I was genuinely chuffed though, I do feel self-conscious about sharing my running stories if I pause to think about it, because, well, I still don’t feel like a proper runner and worry that my commentary will let the side down somehow. Then I remember hardy anyone reads my blog anyway and also I don’t really care. Despite this I was very touched indeed, so thank you mystery runner for coming and saying hello, and for reassuring me that I run, therefore I am a runner. Thank you for the affirmation that made my day! Yay, get me, runner!
As we milled around yakking away, someone spotted George trying to take some naturalistic, un-posed, unselfconscious candid atmospheric milling around shots. We all then as one controlled by a super-brain somewhere immediately started posing and vying to be captured on film. Can’t wait to see what happens there… We don’t make it easy for him, why would we, when we can have so much fun messing about? We might have been quite annoying though actually. Shame. Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves, honestly. Just giddy with all that excitement I suppose.
Many of us then adjourned to Endcliffe Park Cafe to continue the 200th celebrations. It was heaving with parkrunners (which shouldn’t have been altogether unexpected to be honest) and roasty toasty warm. We three breakfast clubbers loitered for long enough to sup lattes and catch up with a fair few, but then the standing around got a bit much so we said cheery farewells – remembering to hail and thank the volunteers as we departed, parkrun wouldn’t happen without them. The security role is a new one to me though…
and headed back to Jontys. En route we stopped to greet some huskies – wow they are impressive dogs, and these were friendly one’s too, very up for a cuddle. Don’t worry their owner was with them and known to one of our number, I am not in the habit of randomly petting large carnivores without a prior introduction… Back to Jontys – we’d not been there for ages. It was nice to back in a way, I got my breakfast scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms, one-armed smiley had blueberry pancakes (which looked amazing, even as a vegetarian – they had maple syrup and bacon on the top too) and Old Bird Smiley had bacon batch. However, we had a table right by the door, and it seemed that every few seconds someone else would cross the threshold, and hold the door wide-open whilst asking if there were tables (there weren’t) and then depart without closing the door behind them. Were they all born in a barn? The unrelenting icy blast did mar proceedings to be honest, oh well, worse things happen at the seaside*. Also, worse things happened to whoever lost this very fine mitten. There is a devastated child roaming the streets of Sheffield seeking this even now… It’s on the Rustling Road railings, just where you turn back into Endcliffe Park on parkrun. Sad, but true. Probably.
Breakfast and catch up complete, we depart. All over for another week. Thank you Smiley Paces breakfast buddy comrades. I have one more Smiletastic run to squeeze in this week – will have to be tomorrow. The jury (that’s me) is still out as to whether I will make it a pre 7.00 a.m. in an attempt to nab another bonus point. It’s going to be a surprise to me too. Will just have to wait and see…
STOP PRESS UPDATE – I did go out for my early run to nab a bonus point. Apart from the having to get up at some ungodly hour, it was actually really nice out. Silent, calm, mild and still. This may be the lull before the storm as heavy rain and strong winds are forecast for later on. I started out in the dark, but dawn broke through whilst I was running, but The Best Bit, was that in Endcliffe Park I finally saw the kingfisher for the first time this year. Even better, there were two rather forlorn looking photographers there with the most enormous telescopic lenses I’ve ever seen (and that is saying something as regulars at Hallam parkrun who have seen telescopic lenses before will know) and they were scanning the pond in vain. I was able to at least point them in the right direction to look. Although I do have to concede the technicality that unfortunately by this point the kingfisher had flown off, I’m sure it’ll have come back again in a bit, it is its regular haunt after all. The two photographers said they’d been trying to get the kingfisher for literally years and years but never known quite where to spot it. I so hope they got their shots today, but if not, they will do one day soon now they are looking at the right bush. All foliage options are not the same as any kingfisher will tell you. Don’t believe me? Well ask one.
Oh, and another thing – these signs have cropped up everywhere – one wayward dog poo on the course from last week and now Big Brother is watching you. Quite right too! I’m loving the catchy slogan as well ‘Bag that poo, any rubbish bin will do!’ Inspired, even if it doesn’t entirely scan. Good effort though. Well done.
*this is true, but too complicated to explain.