Digested Read: Running isn’t really happening for me at the moment, plus no internet for months now, I’m not a happy bunny. Fortunately, we still have parkrun. Share the lurve parkrun people in general and Sheffield Hallam parkrun personages in particular, and all will be well with the world. Ho ho ho etc. parkrun remains the ultimate mood enhancer. I went yesterday, and I feel less grumpy now, for which I thank you all.
I can’t lie, I’m definitely Ms Grumpy Knickers today. Mostly first world problems granted, but I’m feeling vaguely traumatized on a number of fronts, specifically running related and internet connectivity. Running related because I’ve hardly been running lately, partly due to overwhelming business, and partly because I’ve got this annoying ‘niggle’ that I am reluctantly having to concede has been going on long enough that it constitutes an actual injury, and requires some sort of positive intervention over and above ignoring it and hoping it will go away. Running injuries are a bit like Christmas in that respect, sooner or later, you have to bow to the inevitable, there’s no avoiding either altogether, eventually they will punch through your defences of pointless denial and launch into your actual reality… Then on top of this startling realisation, recent icy weather is also massively impeding running play. Did you know that yesterday saw a record number of cancellations for parkrun due to ice? We missed out on parkrun last week. Running is most definitely being restricted because of the cold. Case in point just today. Granted, I’d inadvertently double booked myself and so was always going to have to miss out on something, and also strictly speaking shouldn’t be running anyway because it hurts, but today both the Longshaw Tinsel 10k (part of the Trust 10 series) AND Graves Junior parkrun were cancelled due to ice. All that effort that went into organising these things and then the elements conspired against us. Runners everywhere are feeling frustrated and thwarted, myself included. Technically I was even triple booked as I was at one point supposed to be doing XC too, but I’d already bowed out of that because that environment is a bit more competitive and even I knew my knee wouldn’t hold out for that. Ironically, the XC went ahead apparently, though to a depleted number of hard-core participants. Go you though team TNT, awesome effort! Special congratulations to the brave individual who sported shorts, and to the catering manager for the ameretto and mince pie combo, which is way better than the mince pies and lemsip option which I understand was also under consideration. Are bikes allowed now at XC? Must check that if I venture out again next year, that could be a game changer… also, nice head wear everyone. Bravo!
Anyways, I am digressing, back to case in point…
It certainly looks lovely out there though… (photos shamelessly taken from Longshaw Estate Facebook page)
Totally the right call by organisers, but it is disappointing. What’s the point of snow if you can’t go out cavorting in it? Having said that, have you seen this? Best cancellation notice EVER in the history of running, by Perth junior parkrun ice manager (niche volunteer role granted) click on the link and marvel. Why the running but not moving on the ice demo has not yet gone viral I simply can’t imagine!
Frustratingly, other more intrepid runners are posting glorious photos of scampering about in the peaks, but the ice on my hilly road leaves me too scared to venture out and about. It’s not so much yaktrax I need as an actual yak.
This is a particular dilemma for the following reasons:
- I don’t generally approve of keeping animals in captivity
- Even if I did, I don’t know how to look after yaks properly
- Even if i did and did, I don’t know where to source them from
- Even if I did, and I did and I do, you still should never, ever buy an animal at Christmas. Animals are for life not just for Winterval and internet memes. Apparently.
As if all these hardships weren’t enough troubles to weigh me down, I’ve been without internet for weeks now due to ‘supplier error’. This wouldn’t be so bad, if it were not for the fact that there is no prospect of getting connected before new year. There’s only so much connectivity that can occur with a Vodaphone Dongle. If anything, being in possession of said dongle has only increased my frustration as it wafts the tantalising but elusive hope before me that if I can but find the sweet spot in my dwelling for a micro-second I might just get online. It’s like trying to grab the end of a rainbow, only less compelling as a theme for fairy stories, and significantly less picturesque – well as far as I know, not honestly checked it out, but I can speculate as well as the next woman, and this is where my research has led me to date …. I don’t need a survey monkey dataset to validate my instincts on this one surely?
Without internet I have lost the ability to communicate with my running buddies and check out running related anecdotes so even if not actually running, I could live my running life vicariously through the exploits of others. I can only tell myself a digital detox was long overdue for so long, 6 weeks and counting is too long. This story does not wash.
What could I do?
Well, for those of you who are interested in emulating my personal Customised Reallyrubbishnotrunning Action Plan I can tell you so far my strategy has comprised the following: I’ve done a bit of wallowing in self-pity. Not terribly effective truth to tell, but then again, that packet of digestive biscuits wasn’t ever going to eat itself and lt’s face it, a mug of tea solves most problems. Particularly Yorkshire tea. Are there other teas available? I suppose there must be… However, nothing can be as fine as the tea from the plantations of Sheffield surely?
Then yesterday, I decided to go to parkrun anyway, because I’ve finally got around to making an appointment to see a physio on Monday (tomorrow), so I figured I might as well see if parkrun does properly break me as if not, that’s fab, and if it does, then at least the physio will have something to treat. I know, I know, but since when has an injured runner ever listened to any ‘sensible’ advice. How do I know if I’m hurt or not if I don’t keep checking?
Honestly, given how cold and icy it’s been I wasn’t even that confident Sheffield Hallam parkrun would happen. Last week lots of Sheffield parkruns were cancelled, and even yesterday Graves was cancelled. It didn’t look tooooooooo bad when I headed out, but my there was a nip in the air. I wonder if we call it a ‘nip in the air’ because of what it does to your nipples? I’ve never thought about that before, which is surprising given the ability of my mind to wander in unexpected directions at times. Mine were, erm, well let’s just say, signalling that they were most definitely very well aware of the cold, and communicating it quite markedly, pointedly even. This is not just a ‘me’ thing I hope, or my reader will think this very weird. Sorry (ish), but then again, the truth will out, just as my.. no enough now.
I wore road shoes, as if my London marathon attempt is to be anything other than hypothetical I need to start getting used to them. This was my first miscalculation of the morning, as it was way more slippery than I’d imagined. If I’d allowed myself a bit more time, and quite frankly if I could have been arsed, I might have turned back and changed into trail shoes, but that would have meant lugging my weary carcass up a steep hill, and well, you know, might be OK. If it’s that icy we wont have to run anyway, just go for brunch instead, that wouldn’t be so terrible surely..
I arrived at Sheffield Hallam parkrun a bit later than usual. Pink flags were a-flying and runners a-running and no doubt lords a-leaping someplace somewhere too. One at least was in Endcliffe Park – not sure where his nine buddies were, but then again, maybe he was just practising ahead of time, it’s not the tenth day of Christmas yet…
He looks quite chuffed with his technique there, and so he should, but his minders behind maybe need to work on their ‘I’m honestly really impressed’ faces in my unsolicited opinion.
parkrun was happening. No sneaky breakfast without running first then. You can tell I’m conflicted. On the one hand I’m massively frustrated about not being able to run, on the other, running is painful at the moment, so if parkrun is cancelled I feel that’s a legitimate reason not to run, and breakfast sans run is permitted, so I’m still part of the parkrun gang and not missing out on anything. But if it’s on, well rude not to run isn’t it, so parkrun then brunch it is, but my it hurts… I was a bit later than usual, so less time for meeting and greeting than usual. There was a noticeably small (but perfectly formed) field, and a veritable army of volunteers. There was also some ice. Uh oh. Right at the start in an area we run across three times. How would this work?
Well dear reader, our Run Directors have massively advanced problem solving skills it seems. I think some of them may have evolved to use parts of the brain that most humans never activate, because some inventive trouble shooting was speedily put into place. For starters (pun intended), instead of starting on the skiddy tarmac, the start funnel was shifted onto the frosty, crunchy grass, and then – and this was sheer genius quite honestly – our hi-viz heroes formed a guard of honour to cheer us off and steer us away from the section of ice that might otherwise have thwarted play. To be fair, we use the human tunnel technique quite a lot at junior parkrun in a (misguided) attempt to direct junior runners, but mostly they just run into us or ignore our best efforts in joyful anarchy. Look at this though. Impressive!
Putting themselves in harm’s way for the greater good (and 1/25 of a T-shirt and some D of E credits maybe). Courage indeed. They stayed in position to keep us the right side of the ice as we came back towards them. Great team work, and effective too, not a single runner toppled that I saw. I did see a youngster nearly veer into the pond at one point, but that seemed to be a steering rather than ice issue, I think they were able to swerve away in time.
noisily whingeing worried about my knee/ calf/ shins/ miscellaneous unfitness to run so slotted in even more towards the back than usual. I broke my usual rule of not talking and running, and ended up in a companionable yomp with my Dig Deep running buddy. To avoid any suspicion that this talking and running malarkey will ever become a regular occurence, I made sure I looked especially joyless in the parkrun photos that captured the occasion. I don’t generally like to brag, but it would be false modesty to pretend I’d not completely nailed the ‘oozing air of hostility’ expression whilst running here don’t you agree? (Good luck with working out which of those negatives cancel one another out grammar police, think of it as my Winterval quiz challenge for you to enjoy on Boxing day, after your long run).
You should not be deterred from parkrun by my outward appearance of grumpiness. Sheffield Hallam parkrunners are in fact mostly joyful. Not even just because it’s Christmas, but pretty much all the time. Here are some especially joyful ones by way of illustration:
You see, this is the thing. You can’t be at parkrun and not share in the collective lurve. I have been suffering from some serious grumpiness of late, but not only did parkrun lift my mood, when I finally managed to get some internet access to look at the photos from yesterday I was reminded with new vigour how completely brilliant this Saturday ritual is. The photos really do tell a story about how fabulous the event is, and all who contribute to it as participants, spectators, whatever. Some runners even added to the festive frolics with appropriate accessorizing. Rocking stylish headgear with considerable aplomb.
I also had stylish headgear, but alas never got the memo about needing to rock it with considerable aplomb, probably because it was sent by email, and my internet is STILL NOT WORKING. I just stuck with a slightly pained expression instead.
Cynicism and unflattering photo shoots aside, parkrun is a marvel though. When you look back at all the photos of our Sheffield Hallam regulars storming round in the freezing cold with huge smiles to complement their goose bumps it is pretty impressive. The phenomenon that is parkrun brings joy not just for Christmas, but year round, though clearly many will enjoy consulting the Christmas Compendium for their sneaky extra winterval parkrun fixes. Those pitiful parkrunners who find themselves the sole parkrun passionista in their households will be hoping for the ultimate Christmas Gift from Santa this year in the form of a parkrun pass – hope they’ve been good:
As always, everyone was free to participate in their own way, some taking on a quick sprint challenge, some companionably yomping, others finding parkrun is a manifestation of a dog’s life, but in a good way. A few people were still basking in the afterglow of a succesful 2017 Percy Pud, sporting the trophy Tee-shirts, which have no doubt been worn continuously since the event as who would want such a garment wrenched from them in an untimely fashion when it was good to go another week or so at least? I salute you all, co-conspirators; sprint finishers; leading the throngers; Percy Puddingers; unconvincingly camera-shyers and milestone celebrants.
Even Queen Victoria was amused, though sadly she was cut a bit out of shot in this image, but I promise you she was nigh on doubled up with merry laughter, so caught up was she in the infectious joy of being present at a parkrun event. That’s why these two are laughing cheerily, just been sharing a merry joke with her I expect, as you do.
Takes all sorts parkrun, and you know what, running at its best can pump out those endorphins to the point we can all feel magnificent and invincible. Think that’s what’ happening here. Spreading the joy people, we can all be part of this, walk, run, jog, volunteer, but just be there and marvel and life can feel great for a bit at least.
Point of information, I don’t actually look like this when I run (see evidence above, sadly) if we are honest, most of us don’t, and not only because of gender differences. But the point is, sometimes you can feel like this, it’s all that positive affirmation from volunteers, the collective coming together, the being out on a glorious day. It’s always worth it. Always, even on the not so great days or days where there is less festive accessorizing and more rain.
Yesterday though, we even had bad yuletide punning. Life surely doesn’t get much better than that!
Mind you, only just realised, no actual Christmas Trees in the shot. I’m hoping they’ve sold out, and aren’t just going to keep on felling the few trees Amey havent already lopped down and try to palm* those off on their unsuspecting public… (*see what I did there? I know, genius – wood you credit it).
So, despite everything, despite my lack of running at the minute, and other complications in life, parkrun is still something that can put a smile on my face. I’m so grateful to have stumbled across it, and feel incredibly lucky to be in Sheffield where we have a veritable plethora of runs to choose from and dedicated teams who do all they can to ‘make it so’ even in unpromising conditions. Yay to the volunteers – always room for a few more of course, just contact the relevant parkrun team by email and you too could gain the glory of hi-viz and maybe one day graduate to a clipboard or scanner – even stopwatch if you have the nerve to operate one and at least one opposable thumb.
So just one more parkrun to go before Christmas – two if you factor in junior parkruns on Christmas Eve which are guaranteed to be awesome or your money back as I understand it. Next week’s at Sheffield Hallam is bound to be a Christmas Corker. Hope to see you all there, doing your own thing, in your own way, because that’s all that’s needed for the awesomeness to continue.
Share the joy people, seeing as how it’s Christmas (nearly). Let’s take a moment to remember how blooming brilliant parkrun is, lest we come to take it for granted. Just think, there are already people in the world running at junior parkrun who have never known a world without parkrun to take part in. Isn’t that amazing, to the next generation a world without parkrun will be as incomprehensible as a world without mobile phones ‘but how did you all manage?’ to which surely the honest to goodness truthful response has to be ‘I have no idea. It was a dark and dismal time and place, but we knew no better’.
I suppose it must have been an unknown unknown, and we were all the poorer for it.
Ho ho ho everyone. Yuletide felicitations too.
For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.