Monthly Archives: February 2018

Well stone me! Unexpected treasures on the Round Sheffield Walk. Rock on runners, eyes peeled and best foot forward.

Digested read: out and about and I found a stone in Graves Park!  I know, extraordinary, there were trees too, but all worth seeing in a new light. Get out there and look about you, there are mysteries waiting to be discovered all over the place if we but keep our eyes open to that possibility.

In desperation, I have taken to googling ever more obsessively about London Marathon training plans. It’s not particularly enlightening, more confusing.  However, naive as I am, I do think that my training priorities remain miles on legs and getting to the start line uninjured.  In  my heart of hearts, even on low morale days, I still think if I make it to the start line I’ll make it to the finish.  It might not be pretty, and their may be tears and tantrums along the way, but I will get round by sheer act of will. This is my theory.  Long may it sustain me.  The upshot of this is that today, I decided that I’d up my mileage even if only walking.

Yesterday, I took on the Monsal Trail and experimented with my walk run strategy (you might call that a ‘fail’ I prefer to think of it as a learning opportunity).  I did about 15 miles near enough, about half of which was running, which isn’t great at this stage in the game, but is a barometer of where I’m at for better or worse.  Unexpectedly, I got a blister.  This is unusual for me, but I think it might have been the sameyness (is that a word?  It is now) of the terrain, pound, pound, pound on the feet with no change in stride, it wasn’t a catastrophically bad blister, but I wasn’t going to wear the same shoes again for a few days.  Today therefore, I resolved to get back out there and try doing a distance on tired legs and see how I went. Round Sheffield Walk all over again.

I wasn’t going to do a blog post on this, as much as I love this route (apart from that bit with the steps up through the wood, how is it possible for them to be soooooooooooooo steep and never get any easier to negotiate I just don’t know) I fear that you dear reader might be a bit on the ho hum/ I’m actually really bored of hearing about this now cusp of interest, and I don’t want to alienate you any further.  Lawks a lordy I struggle enough with finding people to talk to, I’m already in an agony of awkwardness after inadvertently breaching use of skip/ cardboard recycling etiquette in my new neighbourhood. I mean, I think I’ve basically weathered the storm, but I’ve probably had my probationary period extended, but that’s another story for another time. The thing is, that something particularly unexpected occurred on the Round Sheffield  Walk route today.  Plus a few just generally nice things actually, things worth remembering, just to appreciate the moment and distract me from tired legs and blistering feet.   Specifically:

There were these lovely lichen and moss-covered trees, and that one as you go up to Ringinglow through Whiteley Woods and up Porter Valley, the one that has red baubles every Christmas, today it had a heart on it.  I don’t know who it is that adorns this tree over the seasons, but I noticed the decorations the very first year I moved to Sheffield, and that’s nearly a decade ago.  Whether the additions are in memory of someone, or because the tree has a particular significance I don’t know, but the changes in offerings are relatively frequent, and sufficiently discreet for me to see them as interesting additions rather than vandalism of the woodland.

Then there was the bit of the walk where the slopes are steep and the trees take on other worldly shapes in defiance of the wind and gravity, it is spectacular, couple of photos of that wouldn’t hurt I thought.

And then I wasn’t going to take any more photos because, well, what was I going to do with them all? But then, when I got to Graves Park I found a proper treasure, no really I did. This was the remarkable gift for today.  I found this!

whats that lurking

It caught my eye as it was the wrong colour for the spot it was lurking in at the base of a tree.  I was doing a sort of half-hearted litter pick.  I don’t pick up as much as I should, but I try to just pick up a couple of bits of litter every time I go out running, if we all did this, it might eventually make a difference.  Quick shout out for the Runners Against Rubbish crew, which focuses the mind on the difference runners can make.

I was tired, but I decided to go investigate, as it was a little off the path, and I found, to my delight, this was not rubbish, it was a gift for the observant, all smiles and good will.  Look:

smiley stone

How exciting!  Further investigation revealed this to be a special painted rock from Chesterfield UK rocks.  Gussies.

chesterfield uk rocks

How cool is that!  I found a rock, hidden in the woods, on my birthday!  I wasn’t sure of the rocking it etiquette, should I keep, re-hide, what?  I don’t have a smart phone so the googling option wasn’t available to me there and then.  I decided to enjoy the moment, take a photo, and leave it where it was for another to find.  It was great though.  Maybe during the next cold snap I should start painting my own stones and scattering them in hidden places for others to experience the joy of discovery. so me and Gussies stone, we shared a moment, and then I said farewell and skipped on down the path wondering whether to alert others to the find or let it take its chances… I opted for the latter.

So dear reader, I’ve since come home, done my research, and this is how it works people person!  You find the rock, keep it if you want, or re-hide, but to make it more fun for whoever hid it in the first place, take a picture and post it on the relevant rock facebook group. Such simple pleasures.

Chesterfield UK Rocks expresses it like this:

A Guide to ‘Chesterfield UK Rocks’

The idea of this project is to spread some simple joy around our county by painting or drawing pictures or simple positive messages on stones.

If you’re on a rock hunt and come across a lot of rocks, please don’t take them all home with you because there will be no rocks for others to find. By all means take a couple but please rehide as much as possible. More rocks = more finds 😀

but there are UK rock groups all over, including one in Sheffield, Sheffield UK Rocks, this pleases me, perhaps it will you too?

It fair made my day.  Rock on people.  Although it was a close call between that, and having a fellow Dragonfly Smiley catch me up on my traipse round the Round Sheffield Walk – she was running to my walking – and we stomped along together companionably for a fair old chunk, which was really nice and much appreciated.

I was flagging by the end though, the temperature plummeted, and was that a blister on my other foot now?  Weirdly, my actual legs felt pretty strong, it’s my feet that were complaining.  I decided to cut off a bit of the walk (I know. lightweight, not listening) and headed out of Graves along the Derbyshire Lane route, which takes you past Norton cemetery. The wintry light made for some spectacular skylines.

norton cemetery

and again, another cityscape as I made my descent:


and you know what, wherever you go in Sheffield you’ll see something new and unexpected.  Some messages are subliminal, some are in your face. Any guesses on what these two finds are trying to communicate:

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So keep your eyes peeled out and about. Every outing, every time, new delights are out there waiting to be discovered.  If you can’t find them, you could always lay some for others to discover, or just make the world a better place with a mini litter pick for an extra feeling of inner warmth to match the outer warmth once you get back home.

So, people (and google) keep telling me that what will get you through a marathon in general and London in particular is mental strength as much as physical aptitude and preparation (though I think it’s only fair to point out there is probably a minimum base line of fitness which you ignore at your peril).  I can see this, but I also wonder if as a supplement to mental fortitude is an imagination and an appreciation of the moment.  Back to basics, my parkrun running buddy who in response to my question: ‘what advice would you give me for my first ever one and only  marathon?’ was, after something of a pregnant pause – ‘just enjoy it, enjoy every moment!’ and you know what, I think she’s probably right, and that that advice will get me through my long runs too. There is always something to wonder at on a run, walk jog out and about even if it is only to wonder ‘what was I thinking?’.

What adventure awaits you next on your doorstep I wonder… go find out… go now!  Running is supposed to be fun remember.  Really and truly it is.*

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Rock on.

Also, Happy Birthday to me.

That’s all.

*ok, well, maybe mostly fun.  But sometimes you have to be willing to make your own fun, just so you know.

Categories: off road | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Taking running underground – tunnel vision on the Monsal Trail

Digested read: change in strategy.  Instead of long and hilly, I went for long and flat, first time out on the Monsal Trail.  It is indeed long and flat, but it has loads of fabulous tunnels.  Tunnels are fun.  I’m still scared of this marathon malarkey, but slow progress is still progress, and I can’t change how much preparation I’ve done to date, I can only make the remaining weeks count.  More running, fewer donuts. That’ll work.  All the same aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.  I think that’s normal though.  Probably.  Eek.

Yesterday, I ate five doughnuts, pretty much in one go.  In my defence, they were proper ones, by which I mean jam donuts (all other types are in my view an abomination against nature), and also, it was an accident. I’d been to the gym – I think dear reader you know how much I love doing that – and then went food shopping afterwards when I was feeling rungry.  Big mistake, but I hadn’t expected to walk past a bakery counter with a special offer at 45p for a big pack of warm donuts, it was a temptation too far. Of course I succumbed.  I didn’t feel guilty eating the first one, and then the second didn’t really hit the sides, and then once you’ve had three in a row, you have to concede that’s your healthy eating plan for the day jettisoned, so you may as well write the rest of the day off and start again tomorrow, best course of action is to remove the temptation altogether by polishing off the lot.  It’s frankly a miracle I didn’t just inhale them sitting in Sainsbury’s car park, the fact I made it home in the car before ripping open the pack should be seen as a mitigating factor.


Despite this attempt at justification, it wasn’t the best of nutritional choices I’ve made in recent times, and naturally I was full of self-loathing afterwards, and felt a failure not only as a runner but as a human being.  Fortunately, I have a little Facebook messenger group thing going with some other people I met at a London Running Weekend a while back. These are new buddies,  who are also doing the London Marathon in just a few weeks time.  Aaaargh. This meant I was able to share my panic at having so spectacularly failed at my nutrition control, and feeling down about my marathon training progress, which is lamentable. Sharing is good.  Though over-sharing of course isn’t, and sometimes it’s a fine line.  On this occasion however, my virtual running buddies scooped me up in a collective cluck of reassurance.

Since knowing I was going to be running London (gulp, still struggle with putting that out there!) I’ve read loads about marathon running through the medium of the oracle which is google.  I have searched every conceivable variation on the term ‘marathon’ including, as an illustrative not comprehensive list, the word streams: ‘first marathon’; ‘top tips for crap runners’; ‘how to complete a marathon’; ‘how to start a marathon’; ‘how far is a marathon again’; ‘why would anyone want to run a marathon’; ‘who’s idea was it to run a marathon anyway’; ‘what was I thinking when I entered the London ballot’; ‘why didn’t that Pheidippides just do a relay and call it a day at 5 miles‘ – and every variant question you might think of in between.  I find googling about running a pleasing substitute for actual training in general and running in particular, but it isn’t always good for nerves.  I only found out today that blooming Pheidippides dropped dead at the end of it! WTF?  I thought he was lauded and got a medal, this is not as planned…  Not such a brilliant role model and running target after all is he?  … Are we seriously emulating someone who drops dead at the finish without getting their bling or a selfie next to a national monument/ reality TV celebrity at the end?  I clearly should have researched this marathon malarkey thing a bit more before signing up for it…  So easy to get caught up in the hype isn’t it, and look where that leads.

why didnt he die at 20 miles

Leaving aside the ‘whose stupid idea was this in the first place?  Oh, mine, OK then‘ factor, one constant theme in the marathon advice is that it’s a really hard thing to do on your own.  The training is potentially isolating, there are a lot of hours running on your own, and your mind messes with you a lot.   Well, mine certainly does, it just won’t SHUT UP!  Now, some people have friends and family on their doorstep to rally round, and that’s great if you have, but you know what, the support I’ve had from my Facebook friends has been amazing.  Scooping me up with a rush of positivity and empathy, that helped me through a really tough few days.  So thank you virtual marathon running buddies.  You are appreciated.   I still don’t know if I can get round this marathon or not, but I do feel somewhat more chilled about giving it my best shot.  Also, it just really helped to hear their own horror stories about the challenges they are facing in their training.  It’s hard this Marathon training thing, however hard you think it’s going to be, it’s much harder.  There are so many elements outside your control – and I don’t only mean the allure of freshly baked doughnuts.  Even those elements inside your control aren’t that easy to deliver because (who knew) heading out on your own for 15 miles in the cold isn’t as instantly appealing or rewarding as you might think.  Delayed gratification is massively over-rated.  You don’t have to be a psychopath to think so.  Even so, perspective check,  there are a couple of things I do want to remember about running:

  1. it’s supposed to be fun,
  2. I remember being really sad at seeing someone, somewhere comment on a discussion thread, that running a marathon had killed their love of running.  To me that seems to be not only a sacrifice too far, but also an unnecessary one.  I don’t want that to be me. I’m never going to impress anyone with my running, not even myself, but I do want it to continue to be a part of my life that gives me joy.

Run often, run long, but don’t outrun your joy of running as the saying goes.


Maybe also try not to run to the point you drop dead at the end of it.  Just a thought.  But if you must, make sure the on-site artist captures your best side at the moment of collapse.  Also, maybe think about wearing some pants.  Maybe our mum’s had a point about having to wear clean knickers every day in case you get run over by a bus.  Or was that not a general thing?

Though, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never been massively sold on the ‘clean pants in case you get run over’ scenario, as surely in that eventuality you’d wet yourself or worse.  Wouldn’t it be better to carry a spare set of underwear with you, along with Kendal mint cake and a toothbrush at all times, and then you’d be sorted in any number of scenarios? Oh I don’t know, I seem to be losing confidence in my decision-making capabilities in every context, not just running.  It’s like low self-esteem and poor self-confidence is self-perpetuating.  It’s so hard being me right now, you have no idea….

So, what I’m basically saying is, yesterday was a bad day.  Running a marathon feels impossible, I’d binge eaten doughnuts without even really taking pleasure in them and was really doubting what ever made me think I could do this. However, after a collective pep talk/ group hug from my virtual London marathon running buddies, I decided to stop comparing myself to other people, and just crack on.  My mantra is along the lines of ‘if I make it to the start uninjured, I’ll make it to the finish‘.  I know I’m behind where I’d ideally like to be with my training, I ‘should’ be running much further by now, but I also know that if I try to skip a week, and start suddenly doing loads of extra stuff, it’ll probably lead to counterproductive injury.  Slow and steady now is better than did not start.    Even so, time for a bit of a change in tactic.

I’ve been doing the Round Sheffield Walk fairly regularly as a training route to up my mileage, but its combination of steep terrain and ice and snow means it’s been basically just that, a walk.  That may be good for strength and miles on the legs, but it’s nowhere near good enough to replace actually running. Today therefore, I headed to the Monsal Trail. As super flat as flat can be.  For the uninitiated, it is described thus:

What is the Monsal Trail?

The Monsal Trail is a traffic free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales.

The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.

Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981 but four former railway tunnels had to remain closed due to safety reasons, with public footpaths taking people around them. From 25 May 2011 the four railway tunnels – Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, Chee Tor Tunnel – will also open for trail users. Each tunnel is about 400 metres long and will be lit during normal daylight hours.

Two shorter tunnels – Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting – already formed part of the Monsal Trail.

The public can now experience the full length of the former railway route at their own pace and see breathtaking views at places like Water-cum-Jolly Dale that have remained hidden since the railway closed in 1968.

As a former railway line, it is basically, long, flat and even.  Like an outside treadmill, also fortuitously furnished with a cafe AND of a good length for my long runs.  I decided I’d head there, and play around with my run walk strategy, and try to do a greater percentage of actual running than I have for a while.  I tried to keep my expectations realistic, this would be a learning experience, I’d try not to be over ambitious, but just get a sense of my baseline of fitness as of now, and build it from there.  This was the theory.

It’s about a 13 mile drive from where I live to the Hassop Station Cafe and car park on the Monsal Trail.  Despite my best efforts at keeping positive, treating today as a fresh start etc etc, I found my mind demons had clambered in the car and come along for the ride too. It was a cold day, but basically dry – perfect for running really – but as I drove out towards Bakewell I became preoccupied with just how far it was to get to Hassop, and how long it was taking EVEN IN A CAR, and how once I arrived I’d be setting out to run even further than I’d just driven.  Yikes.  This is what they mean when they say running is mostly in the mind.  I need to find a way to bury such negative thoughts, they don’t help.  There is that truism that if you don’t believe in yourself you are making it twice as hard to achieve any goal, and that’s probably true.  How does the saying go? She thought she could so she did?  The opposite is also a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Aaaaargh.

I want to believe but… even so I have deliberately picked an image with the robin on it, as that is the sort of robust body shape I can relate to.   If a robin (or indeed a bumble bee) can fly, then why shouldn’t I run? (No answers on a postcard please, today is about positivity not realism, you have been told).

I arrived early.   There is a pay and display car park, but also a free one for customers of the cafe.  I was planning to have lunch afterwards in the cafe, but I knew I’d be out running for blooming ages so I wasn’t sure of the etiquette.  In the end I nipped across to ask a bored looking staff member if I was OK to do a run and then come back later.  She was friendly and completely unconcerned.  I suppose if it was a busy weekend it might have been more contentious, but as it was, I was practically the only car there.

I headed off.  I had decided I’d play around with my run/walk strategy.  To be fair, I had no idea what I was doing.  I decided as the received wisdom is not to set off too fast, I’d walk a mile then run a mile.  This had the advantage of being simple to follow as my tomtom watch is set to vibrate every mile and the disadvantage of being completely crap as a strategy.  It was too much walking so I got cold.  As a learning curve though it was useful, in that I realised I don’t know all the functions of my watch well enough to use any other strategy. Time?  Shorter distances?  Well I could, by looking at my watch every 20 seconds, but that’s not great either.  I need to wise up to other approaches.

I haven’t ever been down the Monsal Trail, which is something of an omission.  I’d been warned it is a mighty dull route, but I didn’t find it that.  I mean, I wouldn’t want it as my only running option, but there was something quite hypnotic about the even terrain.  There was hardly anyone out and about, and I see the potential for the path to have a therapeutic feel to it, plus I liked all the paths that cut across offering promise of new places to discover, and there was some awesome views. Plus, it starts and finishes at a cafe.  BIG tick!

Once on the trail, there was a handy directional sign:


and that’s it, you take your pick, and off you go. You can’t get lost, but you can have micro adventures along the way. I had lots.

For example, who knew that tunnels were so much fun?

I mean, I got excited at the first one.  Which frankly, is like thinking a speed hump constitutes a hill, which is pretty much what I thought until I got to Sheffield, well, Monsal Trail does tunnels really well. First off though, a gentle contemplative trot, gazing ahead at the long open road and marveling at the moss-covered trees along the way.

It was OK to begin with.  I felt quite unexpectedly strong.  The route was quite sheltered, so that was good, and although I felt under pressure at needing to bank a good one, I felt at least I was doing something positive in being out and about.  Amongst other advice, I have been picking up that those most likely to complete the London Marathon do quite whopping mileage (by my terms) of around 37 each week. This kind of whisper is really difficult. It might be true, but that doesn’t take into account those who get injured doing that sort of mileage without a proper training base.  I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that for me, more miles will help me be strong and build endurance, but I have to be realistic, I wont be able to do that many as running miles. If the Monsal Trail is OK, this could be a great weekly addition to my training plan.  Somewhere to get flat running miles in, whilst keeping the elevation mileage in with my long weekly round Sheffield Walk. We shall see.




The route for me today had a certain novelty value.  You notice things first time round, especially at slower speeds.  I was fascinated by the sound of water trickling first down the sides of the embankment and then later within the tunnels.  Early on in my run, when I was feeling upbeat and invincible the musical tone was enchanting, later on, it felt like the haunting sound of better runners than I,  who’d missed out in the London ballot, weeping in sorrow as they watched my piteous attempts at running and could not hold back their tears of frustration as they nursed the jealous knowledge ‘it should’ve been me’.   Maybe it should, that’s the thing about a ballot, it’s random, it isn’t based on merit or worth, just on luck, or not, on the day. Sad but true.

Pretty though, freezing water trickling through that glorious green wall of moss.


Picture doesn’t quite do it justice, you’ll have to use your imagination, or better yet, go check it out for yourself.  Shortly after the first of the whispering water, there was the first of the amazing tunnels.

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Quite aside from being a great feat of engineering, and offering stupendous as yet unfulfilled potential for a film set, this was super fun.  I was a bit perturbed by the sign saying WARNING, do NOT touch the sides of the tunnel.  I was fixated with what might happen if I did. Would the whole structure come tumbling down like dominoes or jenga blocks, or would I maybe get stuck to the walls as if by some invisible force, like people who end up stuck to random objects after poor choices relating to superglue use.  Inevitably, I also had to really, really fight the urge to go and plant my maximum possible body surface against the Victorian bricks just to see what might happen. I held off though, I’ve seen what happened to Father Dougal with the Red Button.  It didn’t end well.

red button

It was weird being in the tunnel, it sounds different, not so much echoey as slightly disembodied.  Other worldly even.  I was impressed by this first tunnel, but I ain’t seen anything yet I later realised.  Once you get spat out the other end I seemed to have a greater appreciation of the views and the skill of the construction team that made it so.  It really is quite something.  I mean, I know I must be getting old to officially find Victorian industrial heritage so fascinating, but honestly, it is remarkable.  Go check it out!

Out of the tunnel and on to a bridge, and you are so high up, amazing views.


I didn’t know it at the time, but the other hilarious/ pleasing thing about doing this route, is that Strava doesn’t know you are on a long flat route. Thus, you go under a mountain in a tunnel, Strava thinks you have womanfully sprinted up one side of the mountain and down the other side. Similarly, you go over a bridge, Strava believes you have slid down the slope to the river on your arse (presumably, it’s too steep to traverse it any other way) and clambered up the other with your bare hands, clinging to tree roots for whatever traction you can to get back up onto the path.  This may mess with your head, because you know it can’t be true, but I won’t like it felt good at the end of the run to think, ‘wow, I actually took on 3,173 foot of elevation over those 15 miles, no wonder I’m tired, I’m awesome’.  I find self-delusion a boon to keep my running demons at bay.  A short live boon, but I’ll take what crumbs of comfort I can.

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It was quiet out, I saw hardly anyone.  A couple of cyclists whizzed by as I was heading out, went to the end of the trail, and came back again whilst I was still heading out.  There was some intrepid walkers I met as I exited one of the tunnels, they actually had hand-held torches with them, which at first I thought was over kill (the tunnels are lit during daylight hours, and they are not so long you’d be very likely to find yourself inadvertently trapped in them overnight, even if you only yomp round at my speed). Then I found my mind preoccupied with wondering what secret mission they had planned that might require them.  Perhaps it was like their own personal Count of Monte Cristo – they’d be taking their lives in their hands and counting and touching bricks until they found the treasure map, or blue diamond, or hidden corpse or whatever it was with no price too high or sacrifice too great to make in pursuit of their end goal.  But what was it?  I may never know.  Or maybe I do know, but choose to keep this to myself as a great secret and source of mystery I will take to me to the grave….

Onward I went, there were catkins and signposts and weird abandoned bunkers that reminded me of pictures of deserted and crumbling settlements in Chernobyl.  I wonder if radioactive mutant animals and people emerge from dark corners hereabout after dark.  Probably.

Some nice remainer graffiti was politely hidden within.  This is what contemporary social history looks people.  And quality urban art with a correctly used apostrophe to avoid antagonizing the grammar police which is always good to see.


I didn’t find the route too samey.  There was lots of interest.  There were clockwork information points at intervals that you could wind up and listen to explanations of what you were looking at. There was even an old railway station – incorporating decent loos and an adjacent ice-cream van for the seriously hardy in search of something cold to ingest to match the cold of outside.  There were moss-covered rocks, and soaring embankments, even a rainbow, but i think you’ll have to squint a bit to see that in my photo, though I did try to capture it just for you.

There were iron bridges and there were reclaimed architectural features, re-purposed as wildlife hotels.   There were sweet little wooden sculptures and just loads to see and explore.

Now, this might just be me, but some of the soaring constructions, emerging skyward from the undergrowth really reminded of hidden Aztec cities or mayan civilisations.  Just as Mexico has it’s Chichen Itza and Cambodia has its Angkor Watt, the Peak District has its, well I’m not sure what it is, but you surely see the similarities?

Spooky eh?

There was one bit of the trail where there was a bit bridge and a separate area reserved for abseilers.  I don’t know if this segregation was for their protection or mine.  Maybe if you stand over the line you are compelled to go over the edge of the bridge whether ready or not. Harsh, but fair, you were warned.  I didn’t break protocol on this occasion, maybe next time…

There were lots of tunnels, I didn’t count them.  Sometimes there would be a gentle, hiss, growing to a crescendo behind me, like being chased by hornets, and then some bikes would appear.  Towards the end of the trail a group of four cheery runners romped on by, they were chatting companionably as I was pausing to take some photos.  I later saw only two coming back together and wondered if it was foolish to ask where their compatriots were.  I mean, if they had done away with them, then I’d drawn attention to myself as a possible witness, the last person to see them all alive, and clearly I couldn’t outrun any of them. They said though they were fine, just behind them, and I chose to believe them.  After all if you can’t trust a fellow runner out on the trails, who can you trust?

The only thing really not to like about this route if you are like me, is that it’s an out and back, rather than a circular run.  Also, the evenness of the terrain, which I thought would be easier on my feet, actually made for a more uncomfortable run as my little plate like feet had no respite from the rhythmical hammering and I did end up with a blister for the first time in my marathon training.  Ooops, not a bad one, but I need to watch out for that.

Oh actually, there was one other annoying and distasteful thing. The poo bag bauble decorators were out in force in some parts of this route. What is that about, hanging poo in bags on trees. Don’t delude yourself dog walkers, you have no intention of coming back for it, and even if  you are, why display your dog’s poop with such abandon for the duration of your walk.  You might wish to celebrate your hound’s every motion, but others do not share in your unadulterated joy.  But you know this already.  Desist dog walkers please, desist!


You know what dear reader, you may think I’m pretty unbearable already, but just you wait. When I think how exercised I am already on the matter of dog poo, it is only a matter of time before I start writing ‘why oh why’ letters to the local paper on the topic. I’ve already started emailing school principles about their students (didn’t get a reply) in a few years I’ll be openly remonstrating with dog walkers whilst out and about.  Sorry about that, but I see the signs, I’m not sure I’ll be able to contain myself.  I might not live that long though.  See reference above about side-effects of running a marathon.  I’d be OK with that, I can think of worse ways to go.

So I reached the end, peered over the rail at the icy view:


and then turned around and trotted back.

Trotting back, I was tiring and there was a headwind.  I got a bit cold, remembered I’d had nothing to eat or drink so had a naked bar and some water which sustained me en route.  I hadn’t felt hungry or thirsty, but I did genuinely notice I was struggling to remember how many miles I’d done and couldn’t work it out from the kilometres on display on my watch.  I’m not particularly numerate, I rather went off maths after we were no longer allowed to play with colour factor, but I can normally do that sort of calculation in my head.  I’d only done 15 miles and it seems brain fog had crept in.

colour factor

So what to make of today.  Well, I did my 15 miles, and although I was still piteously slow, I was a good couple of hours faster doing this flat route than doing the same distance on the Round Sheffield Walk route.  I wasn’t broken at the end of it, not physically, but mentally I felt empty and weirdly and unexpectedly emotional.  I sat drinking a latte in the cafe afterwards and found myself feeling really overwhelmed and a bit weepy. Like being hormonal only I wasn’t I was just exhausted I think.  In some ways I think I did OK, I mean I did cover the distance and learn a lot, but it’s increasingly dawning on me I have to do this distance PLUS ANOTHER ELEVEN MILES near as dammit, and I can’t even imagine right now how this is possible.

It’s tough you now, because I think I agree with those who say the real challenge of this undertaking is in the mind. You have to learn to adopt some mental mantra to keep you going.  So simultaneously you must listen to the voice in your head which encourages you onward, whilst crushing the voice in your head that is demanding you immediately capitulate to its request for intravenous doughnuts and a lie down.  It’s hard.  So many voices screaming for attention.  How can I tell which one is right?

Since writing this post I watched one of the Martin Yelling (brilliant name by the way) Virgin London Marathon live Facebook talks.  He was saying that it’s normal for your body to start protesting at this point. Of course it wants you to stop. You are asking a lot from it.  It doesn’t want you to keep on doing this.  It’s making great demands on your resources.  that doesnt mean it can’t be done, but it does mean you need mental strength to push through, not to the point that you damage yourself, but enough to silence the voice of doom that tells you it’s impossible and replace that with ‘I know it’s a challenge, but I’m sure we’ll all get through this together’.  I need to channel my inner Shackleton.  He got everyone home, and I think it’s fair to say he was having a way worse time of it.  If I don’t make it round, it’ll be sad, and I will feel I’ve failed, but I wont be made to carry a boat across pack ice for weeks and then sleep under it on an island waiting for rescue with only walrus blubber to sustain me and dreams of what might have been.  This is what endurance really looks like:

Touched Up no sharpening

Honestly, it was called Endurance.  How apt.  That sets the bar pretty high for endurance challenge purposes, a little marathon is practically a walk in the park compared to that.

Aaaargh, I still really want to do this, but I don’t know how I’ll get from where I am now to the start of London let alone the finish.  I do know though I am where I am, I just have to keep on keeping on.  Thing is, it’s hard enough running the darned thing as it is without having to battle with all the negative thoughts that consume me.

Note to self.

It’s supposed to be fun.

It will be fun.

Type two fun is still fun.

If it isn’t fun, there may still be a decent anecdote in it, and it’s still an adventure, and it would be a dull world if we stopped seeking those out wouldn’t it.

Wouldn’t it?

comfort zone



Also, if I don’t try, I’ll never know will I?  I might surprise myself….


Even so can I just say again, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Thank you.

Categories: off road, running | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

There’s snow runners like Graves junior parkrunners!

… and there’s snow fun like junior parkfun!

Digested read: junior parkrun in general is lovely, Graves junior parkrun in particular is exceptionally so.  That is why it is my one misanthrope and cynicism free hour of the week.  Graves park however is a micro climate of chill and ice-age memorabilia, hence last week it snowed, and this week several hands were (nearly) lost to frost bite. Still, small price to pay for being part of something so joyful.  Are you coming to a junior parkrun near you sometime soon?  You should. Really.  parkrun fun squared to infinity and beyond.

Just got back from my weekly fix of junior parkrun.  It remains joyful, despite the challenge of the microclimate of Graves Park which has to be experienced to be believed.  Last week, it was my contributory negligence that brought about the white out.  I stood in the car park about 8 o’clock and pronounced it to be ‘unexpectedly nice albeit nippy’.  What possessed me to think I might get away with so tempting fate by flaunting such a misguided belief in front of its mocking  ever-present malign force I can’t now recall. Suffice to say that within minutes, we’d gone from bright winter sunshine to a disorienting blizzard worthy of the best winter-set horror film/ disaster films ever.  My bad.  Sorry everyone.


You can just make out the hi-vis army through those snow globules in the foreground.  There was snow way a sprinkling of the white stuff was going to stop our junior athletes battling round the hill’s of Graves.

To be fair, if it’s going to be cold, I’d rather have the high drama of a snow storm, it definitely makes for a more memorable parkrun, whilst each event is unique in its own way, this was one that will go down in the annuls of Graves Junior parkrun history as particularly epic.  Five hardy souls even made this their debut event, impressive.  The juniors on the whole are.  Little seems to deter them.  I think there are a number of possible explanations for this:

  1. They lack the imaginative foresight to realise just how horrific and cold it will be out there in the elements, with little more than a nylon t-shirt to preserve them from such inclement weather – to be fair, I do the same when entering winter races from the comfort of an armchair at home
  2. Payback time for when their parents/ responsible adults have dragged them out at an unearthly hour of a morning to do unreasonable things like go to do the supermarket shop
  3. parkrun is just really fun – you always forget the horrors of taking part as they are lost under a blanket of euphoria at completion

In any event, I overheard a couple of parents/ responsible adults commiserating with one another at the start.  One was saying ‘took one look out of the window at the weather and thought, well, parkrun definitely won’t be happening today, had pot of coffee on, and everything lined up for a cooked breakfast…. – and then junior appeared in his running kit announcing it was time to go!’  The other was commiserating empathetically. These two were well aware of the sacrifices parents sometimes have to make for their offspring, to turn their backs on a steaming hot pot of coffee to go and stand on a muddy field in the snow to cheer your junior runner round, that takes real dedication and commitment.

So too from the junior athletes themselves, storming round.  There was so much mud, and so much thrill from the sudden appearance of the white stuff, that some juniors appeared to actually run off down the hill, disappearing into the white out going completely AWOL during the warm up. The temptation to just dive right in and make the most of it being an instinct too strong to resist.  To be fair I felt a bit the same.  Snow is ridiculously fun, when you get to roll around and play in it, and cheer juniors and offer up high fives.

Look at how joyful it was….. in parts.


Still, I’m jumping ahead.  First off, there was the little matter of the course set up.  I like doing this, you get to feel busy and important, have a march around the park, and greet other park users. I’ve done the role regularly enough that I recognise some of the dog walkers now, and it’s fun just having little exchanges.   Carrying the arrows is a bit of a practical challenge, but the really hard bit is disentangling the tape we use to keep junior athletes from getting too close to the edge of the water at the point on the course when they pass between two large ponds.  Those of you who have never had to undertake this task, will have no comprehension of just how tangled up and impossible to manage a few metres of many-times-mended and string like plastic tape can be.  It’s not good for the ego.  It should be a simple thing, but it’s always a challenge.  However, successful disentangling feels great, I imagine some people would get the same buzz from completing a cryptic crossword, or doing the ridiculously tricky maths related puzzles on the Today Programme.  Aside – what are they all about?  I can’t even understand the questions.  Has anyone ever solved them other than through chance or googling?  Seems unlikely.  I don’t know if my incomprehension is a reflection of my stupidity or the fact I have a life.  Actually, on reflection, the latter seems unlikely so let’s not go there. Where was I.  Oh yes, putting up the course. That was grand, but the tape was wet and my hands got really, really cold as a result.  I was wearing gloves, but they were saturated.  By the time my arrows were out and I was back at the start, the snow had started to fall.  I nipped into the loos to use the hand dryer to try to offset frostbite, but it was only partially successful.  Even so, I think I did a grand job with the arrows on the whole.  Check this out.  You’ve got to admit, pretty darned fabulous directional pointing going on there.

great directional pointing

Hi viz heroes may have been all a-shiver, but the juniors were undaunted by either the snow, or the warnings of mud.

There was the gathering for the run briefing:

the gathering

This concluded, then the warm up commenced:

The start line up took place on tarmac rather than the grass, for fear of a mudslide.  It was really exciting, you could hardly see the youngsters through the snow as it started to really fall in earnest.  There was a sort of survivalist euphoria to it all.  Plus, cheering and clapping others is a great way to keep warm.  Plus, how could you do anything else in the face of all that collective, youthful enthusiasm.  No room for cynicism here.  Junior parkrun is my cynicism free zone for the week.  Always joyful, normal (for me) misanthropic cynicism can be resumed subsequently.  Meantime, look at them all go:

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And yes, one runner was clutching a balloon, because it was his birthday, and that’s what you should do with your birthday, run round in the snow with a bunch of friends and a purple balloon and a broad smile.  Excellent decision there, excellent.

Not all were enthusiastic about coming out to witness this though, some stayed in bed, or their nearest equivalent, and who can blame them really. They did have a squint out through the windows though.  Taking an interest in their own way.  I do like goats.  Intelligent, and independent.

goats eye view at graves 11 2 18

So, as surely as junior athletes will run around.  They will ultimately finish and enter the finish funnel, all ready to welcome them into its snowy armed embrace.

finish funnel raring to go 11 2 18

So last week, as well as being busy and important with pre-course set up, I had particular shared responsibilities for the finish funnel.  I’ve not been to any other junior parkruns (I know, serious omission) so I’m not sure how it works elsewhere, but at Graves, we have a couple of people in this role. One at the entrance to the funnel to ensure 1) NO ADULTS in the finish funnel (every week they try to muscle in, every week, such is the allure of that cone lined entrance), 2) to try to ensure runners know to do two laps (really hard to tell sometimes how many they’ve done – hope over experience), and this week 3) try to ensure runners slow down so they don’t do a body-slide/ face-plant on the mud as they sprint into the finish.  Quite heady responsibilities. We also have another funnel manager to try to keep everyone moving down through, and, ideally, a third, to chivvy the lines along and encourage young runners to locate their barcodes, or attract the attention of their associated responsible adults who are supposed to be looking after it for them.  You have to multi-task in all these functions, as you must also cheer, congratulate and clap each runner in.  High fiving passing runners is also an option whilst waiting for the first finishers to complete.

finish funnel slide 11 2 18

In my defence, it was a bit of a mud slide.  Inevitably perhaps, I was an epic fail at the ‘preventing junior runners from falling in the finish funnel’ competency. I’m still very much at the ‘working towards’ spectrum there.  However, in my view, you might as well have tried to catch a speeding bullet in your teeth (don’t try that at home people), standing in front of a full pelt junior is likely to result in mutual instant death on contact, better to just shout and wave them down frantically and hope for the best.  I did feel a bit bad about the number of fallers – and not only because I feared being sent to a parkrun junior marshal re-education camp for having so erred in my duties – but then again, it all ended happily.  These young people are way more resilient than you might think.  And let’s keep this in proportion, it was in single figures!  My heart was in my mouth throughout, but if anything, the mud sliders were proud of their whole body mud-casings and wore such a coverage of dirt as a badge of honour.  I suspect those driving them home in the car afterwards would have been less impressed by the quantities of wet earth that transferred from ground to garment and garment to car upholstery.  Another volunteer reported to me (much to my relief) that as he was packing up, he overheard one junior parkrunner report excitedly to their accompanying adult that ‘the absolute best bit was when I did an amazing mud slide right through the finish!  Did you see me?  Did you?  Did you see?‘ judging by his clothing he most certainly did.  So whilst I was shamed by my inability to hold back the tide, it seems all lived to tell the tale.


So that was last week.  This was this:

18 02 18

Almost balmy comparison… you would think?  Only it wasn’t.  Still epic though.

Today we were back on the grass for the start.  108 runners lined up and came shooting down the ineffectual funnel of human cones in place to channel them onto the tarmac.

off 18 2 18

They break out like beads on a broken necklace hitting a dance floor. Chaotically shooting off in unexpected directions.  You may think watching the Winter Olympics on telly is exciting, but let me tell you, it has nothing on this.  The thrills, the spills.  I looked on in horror, as not one, but two young runners slipped over, creating a sort of domino effect as other young runners tumbled into, and on top of them.  There was quite a human pyramid formed at one point.  Various nearby adults stepped in, scooped up children miscellaneous – any child would do – and plonked them back up on their feet again, and no sooner had the pile up happened, than it was cleared away.  I don’t have children, and it is a complete mystery to me how they survive such apparently powerful collisions.  It’s like they are made of rubber, or teflon coated or something.   They just seem to be, on the whole, a lot more resilient than should be logical or plausible let alone possible.    For my part, I’m getting a little less panicked at witnessing these tumbles now.   Today though, watching the pile up pass without injury but with much excitement, I felt like I’d completed a certain rite of passage, and passed into a new realm of understanding.  I felt the same many, many years ago, when I was in an office working alongside a number of women all of whom had children.  One relatively new mother was completely distraught because she’d dropped her young child the evening before – or more accurately, allowed the infant to roll off a sofa or something, the child was not hurt but she was badly shaken by the incident – the others in the office were ‘comforting her’ in a raucous ‘is that all?’ expressing incredulity sort of way. Cue, long conversation where each colleague in turn recalled far worse accidents and incidents they had experienced,  along the lines of ‘I remember the first time I dropped my child/ left it on the bus‘ kind of tales, and there was much crying with laughter of helpless recognition.  Not that it was good these things had happened, far from it, but in a fraught, sleep-deprived world of doing your best, often on your own, no care-giver rears any child in an incident free cotton-wool encased world.  Just as well, otherwise how would the offspring in their respective charges cope with doing a mudslide at parkrun?  See, sometimes the most unexpected of things can be a boon to our life experience in the long run.  Phew.

Today I was on barcode scanning scribe duties. This is a great role, as you get to carry a clipboard AND wear a hi-viz, so you look properly busy and important.  It all goes in a bit of a whirlwind of activity. By the time you look up from writing down the ‘unknowns’ who didn’t bring a barcode, and the unscannables (barcode didn’t scan) it’s game over, and packing up underway all around you.  Within minutes it is as if we were never even there.  A.Maz.Ing.

We all had cold hands though. The race directors hands were so cold I had to help him unclip some paper from the clip board.  He was properly near having frostbite. Still, like I said to him, if he did lose both hands due to that it would have been but a small price for someone else to pay to spread so much joy in the world.   Any follow-up news article in The Sheffield Star say, could truthfully include the phrase ‘much comfort can be taken from knowing he lost his hands doing what he most loved doing‘, because they often say that don’t they?  Then we could do some crowd-sourcing to get new prosthetic limbs –  or better yet, nominate some juniors to make him some personalised parkrun one’s out of papier-mâché and half chewed sweets.  That would be touching.  I expect he’d get a thank you for your contribution to parkrun/ get well soon card from Mr S-H himself, and that would completely make up for it.  So you see, no great drama, just great opportunities.

Incidentally, papier-mâché might not be fully functional, or water resistant, but they can look pretty cool. This was what google images was made for!  You could have a hand for any occassion. Almost aspirational!

And once again, all run, all done, ’twas as if we were never there.


Love Graves park, its micro climate just adds to the sense of adventure 🙂

See you there same time, same place, some Sunday soon.

Go awn, you  know you want to.  After all, there is snow fun like junior parkfun!  Promise, or your money back!  🙂

If you haven’t signed up yet for either parkrun or junior parkrun you can sign up here

Find a junior parkrun event here

For all my parkrun related posts click here, and scroll down for older entries

Categories: parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting cross training at puregym

Digested read:  I’ve caved, I’ve joined a gym for cross training purposes and can confirm absolutely, that the experience is making me very cross and bad-tempered indeed.  I think that must be why it’s called cross training. Am really hoping gym-going is an acquired taste and I’ll learn to love it, meantime, I’m enjoying the teleport machine and the glitter balls. Well, you have to celebrate what joys in life you can.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I’m allegedly taking part in the London Marathon this year, but my efforts at preparatory training have been largely thwarted. I am trying, but my default activity level is inert, and ice and snow and hills (do you have any idea just how hilly it is in Sheffield) are making running quite literally impossible. Call me nesh and over-cautious by all means, but I maintain if you can’t stand upright on a road unaided, you shouldn’t try running down it, or more specifically up it.  We have had a lot of ice and snow.  Hence, I’ve been favouring long slow walks to get miles on legs, which is something, but not actual running.  The trouble is, even though I think it’s legitimate not to run in such ‘sub-optimal’ conditions, after all, I wont even start if I’m in plaster up to my neck from falling over and down hillsides – it doesn’t make London any further away.  I still have a finite number of weeks left in which to train, and those weeks  are depleting more rapidly than you’d credit.  I need to take positive action to up my game. Aaaargh.

Fortunately, or possibly not, depending on how things work out, I have a running buddy who is injured.  Well, shame about the injury for her etc, but obviously the important thing in this story is me.  I can just copy her initiative because she has done me the good service of acquiring a painful stress fracture in her heel, so I don’t have too.   Because she can’t run at the minute due to injury, but like an over-excited collie needs her exercise, she has taken the drastic step of joining a gym.  She also goes swimming to be fair, but I’m not yet desperate enough to do that. Swimming is such a faff, even if not in Cambodia. You have to get dressed and undressed, take loads of stuff with you, fret about your bikini line and body fat, and also get wet.  I’m brilliant at floating (body fat is not all bad) but hopeless at the making headway aspect of swimming, so it really isn’t for me, I’m just not that desperate just yet.  That time may come, but spare me now, please.

In the interim, it is to a gym I shall turn.  I shall embrace take on this cross training malarkey and see how it goes.  Weirdly, the last time I was in a gym was in Cambodia at Phnom Penh Sports Club no less. That was pretty horrific to be fair, but massively entertaining too, maybe this will be the same.  I may not get any fitter, but my what I fail to gain in muscle and dignity I will acquire by way of anecdotes. That is something I suppose.  I went nearly every day to the gym when I was in Phnom Penh, and it didn’t offer up the transformation I was hoping for to be honest:

post work out shot phnom penh

At the time, I told myself it’s because I’m just not good in the heat.  I inwardly resolved never again to complain about the cold.  But then I’d forgotten about ice, and snow, and how profoundly unpleasant it is when hail flies at you horizontally like shards of glass, and you can barely stand in the wind.  Short memory me.  Short in mind as well as stature.  Oh well.

The upshot of all this inclement weather and inadequate training and injured co-smiley, is that to the gym I would take.  With extreme reluctance and a heavy heart, but that’s where I was bound all the same. She recommended puregym, mainly on the basis of price, and no contract.  It keeps its prices low because it is the no-frills end of the fitness market, but a pin code access system allows them to be open 24/7. Thus, if and when insomnia strikes as it often does around 3.00 a.m. instead of listening to Radio 4 Extra for hours on end, I could head to the gym for a swift 5k on a treadmill.  Like that’s ever going to happen…  I wasn’t overly enamoured with the class choices on offer – they all looked booked up and too much spinning for my liking.  I tried spinning once, swore ‘never again’ then was persuaded AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGEMENT to give it another try, and I lasted about 2 minutes before abandoning my wheels.  It wasn’t even a fitness issue for me, it seems to be a fundamental incompatibility with those bikes.  It was like DIY female genital mutilation, absolutely not for me.   I’m not such a fool I’ll make that mistake again!  Try, try and try again is not a philosophy to be applied in ALL circumstances, sometimes way better to turn and walk away before you are in blood stepp’d so deep.  Look what happened to the Macbeths!  Well, quite.  I rest my case.  Sometimes it’s OK to stop, and best thing all round to do so.

Where was I, oh yes, contemplating gym membership.  I also looked at Virgin, because quite a few of my fellow Smilies go there, but I winced at the membership fees for that, I knew a gym was never going to be my natural habitat, plus I don’t like the water related facilities.  All that pee and chlorine is not for me, so I’d be paying a lot for things I wouldn’t use, even hypothetically.  Back to puregym it was.  Annoyingly, I missed the no-joining fee offer by 24 hours because I hesitated before signing up. Not even made it to the gym yet, and already I was burning money.  It did not bode well.

To be fair, it was easy to join on-line, though I wasn’t filled with enthusiasm for the whole endeavour.  You get an email/ text with a pin number to give you entry to the gym.  It’s a very long number, how am I supposed to remember that?  Maybe as my physical fitness improves, so will my capacity to remember long numbers, somehow I doubt it though.  I can’t even remember my own phone number so little hope there.  Also, I don’t have a smart phone, which is going to be a pain for booking classes etc. as that all has to be done online.  My puregym buddy assures me you can often get into classes at the last-minute even if they are ‘full’ because people cancel, but to do so really requires access to a smart phone.  I mean there is a turmoil, I mean terminal hub thingy in the gym where you can book on I suppose, but that defeated me.  I don’t have a smart phone, any more than I have a life.  This also does not bode well.

I’d only actually looked at the online photos of the gym, and I picked the Sheffield Millhouses one purely because it’s the nearest and has parking  – though I hope I’ll be enthused enough to run there, do a class and run back once I get in the swing of it all.  Yes, yes, hope over experience, but people can change.  Really, they can!

sheffieldmillhouse_201611_007 exterior

Not the most attractive of exteriors, but clean and functional I suppose.  With big windows. The big windows are a mixed blessing.  Point of information, I bought a new bed from bensons a few doors down, they have the same mammoth glass windows, but it is possible they have been incorrectly fitted, because instead of filtering out the glare, being in their was like being an ant kept under the focus of a sadistic child’s magnifying class.  Beyond hot, it was torture in there.  Surely that should be put right, hope it won’t be like that in the gym…


So, I joined, I booked a class.  Kept it simple with just a stretch class to begin with, chosen because it was the only class that wasn’t fully booked being held at a time I could attend.  Fortunately, my smiley friend who was grooming me to be a companion gym bunny was up for going too.  Prior to turning up I didn’t think I’d mind going on my own, I always do stuff on my own, but oh my, the gym was a scary place.

Start off, you have to get into the darned building.  I’d had the foresight to bring my phone with me with my pin number in it, but not my glasses.  A tiny little keypad taunted me at the entrance and I had to squint and scrutinise at length. It took several attempts to gain admission.  I say ‘gain admission’ but what I actually mean, is after you’ve passed the pin number test you get to step inside a claustrophobically sized Perspex cylinder which opens on one side.  Then it slowly closed behind you until you are completely encased.  Like you’ve been spun into a chrysalis or entered a teleport machine.  Actually, a teleport machine would have been super fun – especially if they piped in the sound effects from the star trek flight deck (original series) – more accurately, this felt like I’d been sucked up into a tube a la Augustus gloop

The tube is a snug fit, and you are completely trapped in there for slightly longer than is comfortable but not long enough for you to cave in to thrashing around inside and beating on the Perspex in panic.  Personally, I did find that once within, it was as if time stopped, and nothing happened for just long enough for me to become convinced I would be trapped within for all eternity – the only consolation being at least such imprisonment would spare me the indignity of being required to participate in any work out in the gym.  Maybe they use the opportunity to x-ray you as well, I don’t know, I can’t think of any other explanation for how long it takes some people like to be x-rayed though. like this woman, not me though, not me.


However, eventually the pod does mysteriously open.  The other half of the tube slides apart and you are disgorged into the souless abyss which constitutes the gym floor.  I’m not sure whether this was an improvement in my situation to be honest, more like frying pan into fire…

sheffieldmillhouse_201611_042 souless

My first impressions of the gym were not good.   It was like entering a black and white picture.   The light is weirdly artificial despite the huge panes of glass.  The void seemed sterile and desolate, despite large numbers using the equipment.  There was no smiling receptionist, no signs, no clue of where to start.  I found myself plotting to cancel my direct debit before I’d even stepped onto the atrium floor.  Still, however desolate, I’d already paid for my first month, so might as well follow through for now…

If in doubt, precautionary pee – so I headed to the ladies, where I was immediately alienated by a sign on the door advising ‘girls’ of it’s opening hours.  This is a pet hate of mind.  What is this obsession with calling adult women ‘girls’? I find it’s patronising, infantalising, downright insulting, and the fact that some women do choose to refer to themselves in this way (for reasons that entirely pass me by) doesn’t mean it’s OK for businesses to do so.  Makes me squirm.  This visit was not going well.

I then decided to go for a mooch about.  There are no signs, well no helpful ones anyway, and no identifiable staff members either.  There were a lot of people on the machines but each had a zombie like expression and was staring into the void there wasn’t much interaction going on.  There were a few large video screens about, but not loads, and many people were working out in their own headphones.  Not only wearing headphones, they were wearing gym kit as well.  I’ve never used headphones, but for the first time ever, I could see why you might want to do so here.  All the machines seemed to me to be fractionally too close to one another, infringing personal space.  I didn’t feel at all comfortable.  On the plus side, it was clean, and I didn’t feel watched or judged by anyone, it was the sort of crowded experience you have on a London tube train, when people are so rammed in together the only way to make the thing tolerable is to behave as if no-one else exists.

I’d wanted to use a rowing machine, but some were out of use as being serviced (fair enough) and the only free one was between two guys mid work out and I felt a bit self-conscious about using that one as I didn’t know how to use the equipment and I didn’t want to expose my vague cluelessness with quite such immediate effect.  Instead, I headed up the stairs for an aerial view of facilities, and peered into the spin room.  To be fair, that looked impressive, but not impressive enough for me to cave in and sign up to a spin class in a moment of weakness.  I did have an exploratory clamber onto a bike, but instantly feared being spliced and removed myself to a place of safety.

Eventually I espied my gym buddy teleporting into the void.  Rarely have I been so excited to see a fellow smiley, and I’m always pretty excited when I see a smiley, so that is really saying something!  She was also a few minutes early for the stretch class with ‘Em’.  We went and sat on adjacent bikes in a quieter area of the gym, and pedalled and chatted and that did calm my nerves a bit. She is a huge enthusiast for the gym, being in daily attendance since becoming injured.  She was positive about the classes, and the possibilities for getting into them even though seemingly full.  It seems many people block book to bagsy places and then drop out at the last minute. I can see why, when they are so over-subscribed it is tempting to do so.  Annoying though.

As the time for our class neared, we ventured upstairs and waited for the previous pump class to finish.  Hundreds and hundreds of people filed out, sweaty and smiling. My gym buddy recognised and/or was related to some of the attendees.  Get her and her sporty network.  In we went.

So the good news, which cheered me up hugely, was the prolific presence of glitter balls in the ceiling!  A rare bounty of them.  Sort of like the egg nursery in aliens, but more pleasing and on the ceiling instead of the floor.  Also, less uniform, all different sizes,  marvellous.  I do like a good glitter ball, and you just don’t encounter them enough in daily life these days.  I really wanted to get a glitter ball for my downstairs loo, but I’ve had to make do with a chandelier in the sale from Dunelm, (£4, absolute bargain), glitter balls are hard to source.  Mind you, hardly surprising when you think how many are needed to populate a workout room at puregym.  I really hope this is a uniform corporate policy, it would encourage me to try other gyms to check it out. This photo in no way does the vision of glitter balls justice, but it may give you the general idea:

sheffieldmillhouse_201611_147 glitterballs

In situ there were so many glitter balls, it was like a glitter ball nursery.  Indeed yes, it really was just like the alien egg nursery, going on and on for ever.  Bit less sinister, but just as numerous, and possibly without the ability to replicate themselves, but frankly who knows.  Lovely!

Now people had finished filing out, loads of new people piled in. Unlike me, they appeared to know what they were doing, wordlessly performing a mysterious drill of getting out mats and blocks and poles and weights.  I just felt confused, and sort of ineffectually copied, periodically my gym buddy and other users helped me out by passing bits of equipment to me, whilst I blinked with a mixture of fear and incomprehension.

Em turned out to be a guy who didn’t introduce himself or the class.  It was all very strange, there was no sign in sheet, and no music, no ‘any new people, any injuries’ question at the beginning – which I’d imagined might be standard gym class practice.  I presume he, whoever he was, must have had to step in at short notice.  It was all peculiar, not unpleasant, but, well I’m not sure what.  We just sort of copied.  The lack of any explanations as to what we were doing, combined with my inner cluelessness did however make the class a bit more interesting than it might otherwise have been, since it meant there was a constant element of surprise.

As always, the newness of it all, did add to the comedic value of the occasion, always a boon.  Thus I was extremely chuffed to find that amongst the equipment we had at our disposal was what appeared to be my very own giant Lego brick.   That was excellent, although I felt the colour options were rather muted, being just black and grey rather than proper primary colours.

At one point we had to sort of disassemble and reassemble this into a different configuration to get it to the correct height for use.  On the plus side, this made it even more like having actual Lego, on the down side, it meant we were required to stand on it, and everyone knows standing on Lego is really painful.  Why we don’t just scatter the floors of our homes with Lego bricks rather than getting guard dogs to protect where we live I have no idea – oh, unless it’s because most burglars don’t have bare feet I suppose.  Did you know that there is actually an endurance test that involves running barefoot on a tread mill whilst Lego bricks are poured onto it?  Who’d risk that apart from die-hard masochists, can’t lie though, I’d probably watch, albeit through chinks in my hands.  Like Cambodian kick boxing, a brutal sport, but you can’t quite look away.

The giant Lego brick turned out to be a step like in proper step aerobics.  Like these ones in fact, but I didn’t look like any of these people whilst using mine.


I am very wary of steps.  Someone I used to work with broke her ankle really badly falling off a step in a step aerobics class back in the eighties, and I’ve harboured a deep suspicion of them ever since.  She had to have an operation and everything.  If memory serves me right we may even have had to have a whip round for her whilst she was hospitalised, it was THAT bad.   We only had to sort of balance on the edge of them so we could lower our heels below our toes to stretch our calf muscles.  Then there was a deeper stretch, toe against a wall and pushing down on your heel to lengthen the stretch more.   That didn’t work for me, as all that happened is I could feel my arthritic toe bones splintering as I tried to lean in against the wall.  My feet are rubbish, they are the only feet I have, and I do try to look after them, but they weren’t helping.

We got the giggles when we were told to grab our poles.  I say ‘we’ but it was only me and my gym buddy so either we are really immature and pathetic or the others have become immune to such hilarity through familiarity with the terminology.  Much like some runners and the ease with which they will talk about fartlek.  A mystery.  Some open goals just have to be taken.

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The pole was silver and black and very much like a tap dancing cane.  Give me a top hat and a feather boa and I’ve broken into a routine.  Except I don’t know how to tap dance of course, but what with the glitter balls and everything the impulse was there.

And then the class ended really abruptly.

It wasn’t unpleasant, I liked the stretches, even though we didn’t hold any of them for very long and I had no idea what was going on.  It wasn’t a typical class I’m guessing, and if I’d not had my gym buddy along with me to be an ambassador for the gym I think it would not have inspired me to come back. As a gentle introduction to the concept of gym going it was sort of OK.  At least I made it through the door.  Wouldn’t recommend it as a first date, but I don’t think anyone was expecting it to be.

It was all very bizarre, and not really exercise either I finished it feeling a bit non-plussed.  I felt like I’d just experienced the briefest of alien abductions, now I was catapulted out of the weirdness of the parallel universe of dark and glitter balls, back where I’d started and I had no idea what had just happened. I’m not aware of having experienced an anal probe of having a microchip inserted, but often abductees don’t recall those details do they?  So my absence of memory proves nothing.


I’m actually quite an authority on the subject of alien abduction and amnesia now, as I’ve just been googling it.  There are websites devoted to ‘how to tell if you’ve been abducted by aliens‘ so that’s erm, something.  I’ve definitely got insomnia for a start.  The metro did an article covering 13 sure signs you have been abducted by aliens (but don’t realise it) and there is an International Center for Abduction Research plus didn’t Robbie Williams get really into UFOs etc so that near as dammit proves it must happen.  Shame the extra terrestials didn’t restore me to a near perfect physical shape whilst they were about whatever business it was they were about.  Oh well, there’s always next time.

I felt like best not overwhelm myself so didn’t linger after the class.  I  needed to do a big shop whilst I had the car anyway. I did plan to come back later for combat, but the class was full and as number 9 on the waiting list I didn’t make the cut.  Oh well.  I hate exercising at night anyway.

So my verdict.

I’m not remotely convinced by this whole gym malarkey.  It just doesn’t feel at all like my natural habitat, and I can’t see myself motivated enough to spontaneously use the equipment to any great effect.  Maybe I do need to book an induction to make the whole place seem less alien, but it did most definitely reinforce why I prefer to head out to the hills.   I think I can see myself using the rower though, and if I can suss out the classes maybe that will help me get that much needed cross training in.

It’s become obvious that cross-training is well named, because it is blooming infuriating and makes me very cross indeed.  Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stick with it though.  So triumph for today was a modest one, at least I joined and  made it through the door.  Marginal gains people, marginal gains.

My gym bunny career is likely to be short lived.   On the other hand, this marathon isn’t going to run itself.  Maybe I will yet learn to love the place.  I used to shun mushrooms, avocado and even garlic in my youth, what was that about?  Now these are my three main food groups.  I suppose the garlic consumption might yet turn out to be an asset on future gym visits so that’s a cheery thought, as long as I work out hard enough to work up a sweat that’s my personal space issue sorted.   No wonder garlic is a super food!  Not only does it work as aphrodisiac, currency, food, medicine and vampire repellent but also it deters fellow humans from encroaching on your work out area.  I say currency, but I don’t think puregym or even local retailers in Nether Edge will take garlic bulbs in lieu of direct debit or cash payment.  Shame.


We shall see.  Failing that, I shall make enquiries about what one must do to get enrolled onto this:

fitness protection

So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for improved weather, but meantime, I’ll keep trying with this gym malarkey, though if I make it, it will be from being conscientious rather than keen.

Thanks running buddy for the tip off.  My jury of one is still out on the matter, but I’m glad you gave me the necessary nudge to make me join in the first place.   It’s not called cross training for nothing. It’s making me very grumpy indeed. But then again nothing ventured…  I suspect this sojourn to the dark side will be short lived though. But then again I daresay it could pay off on the long run, maybe. See what I did there, with long run – lawks a lordy I can be hilarious at times! 🙂 whether I’ll be laughing my way round the London marathon, well, let’s just say that’s rather doubtful right now.  Best get my laughs out of the way now, while I still can eh?

So, puregym see you there 🙂 gazing into the void.

PS for the record, I’m not knocking puregym per se, it’s clean, it does what it says, it has good equipment as far as I can tell and lots of it.   But it’s just gyms, to me they just suck all the joy out of exercise… unless I can find a body combat class where you get to live out your fantasies of punching people in a safe environment.  Now once I’ve sussed how to book onto those classes, well, that could turn out to be a game changer!



Categories: fitness class, gym, running | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Easy as ABC… implementing up and at it on the run in Attercliffe

Digested read:  our Smiletastic challenge for February was to do a run incorporating all the letters of the alphabet.  We dragonflies did this, in Attercliffe, which revealed hidden delights and adventures as we explored hitherto unknown (to me) hinterlands of north-east Sheffield.  It was an adventure, I followed up at the rear.  No change there then.

Did you read that amazing story in the news the other week? What do you mean ‘which one?’ is it not immediately apparent?  Sigh.  Keep up.  The one about the woman who could become disoriented within her own house.  It would seem both to be familiar, but unfamiliar, her world would spontaneously rotate and become unrecognisable, unmappable, as her internal ‘map’ flipped, due to some previously unrecognised neurological brain malfunction. This would mean that quite literally, she is/was unable to navigate her way even around her own house. To get to her front door, or bedroom or wherever she was heading, she’d need to breathe deeply, think hard and look for clues.  Lost, completely, inexplicably lost, despite being within range of familiar things.  The woman who is permanently lost.  Sounds terrifying, and, to be truthful, slightly implausible.  By which I mean obviously it used to sound implausible, but that was before today.  Today I got completely lost on the streets of Sheffield, to the point it felt like I’d been forcibly abducted, which in a way I suppose I had been.

Today, took me on a magical mystery tour of the delights of Attercliffe.  I was but a proverbial stone’s throw from familiar territory, and yet I had absolutely no idea where I was for most of the duration of the run.  In a twist on the original theme, I also had no idea what I was doing, as I scampered around desperately trying to keep up with my Dragonfly Smiletastic trail blazers like a dachshund trying to keep up with a pack of greyhounds.  Not pretty to be fair.  I tried, but I’m never going to manifest the athletic elegance and vigour or my Smiley counterparts.  Maybe I should start running only in the dark for a bit, until morale picks up.  Most definitely I should stick to running on my own.

dachsund running

Hang on, you don’t know what I’m on about?  Well, for those of you who have no idea what I’m on about, I have no idea how it is that mysteriously you have somehow missed out on all the Smiletastic shenanigans (what stone have you been hiding under) of late.  But, since you are not in the know, Smiletastic is basically a motivational challenge to help runners to keep up their running targets throughout the winter months.  More specifically, to help runners who are members of the friendly and inclusive women’s only running club in Sheffield we know and love as Smiley Paces.  There are various individual challenges, but the important thing about today is that it was a team challenge. There’s one of these each month.  There are four teams all together, bees, ladybirds, grasshoppers and lastly and most important, MY team, which is dragonflies.  The challenge for this month was:

alphabet run february team challenge smiletastic

So hard to do basically.  Fortunately, we’d had a Smiletastic Dragonflies alphabet run planning meeting, at which my main contribution was to turn up and nod earnestly, and defer to people who seemed to have a plan.  Now, as the logical extension of that contributory negligence in having shown up and shown interest in the collective endeavour,  we had to run the darned thing.  Good oh.  The stipulation was to run an alphabet in Sheffield.  However, to nab every letter of the alphabet, we were always going to end up in Attercliffe at some point, as along with its many other attractions, Attercliffe is the only area of Sheffield blessed with a street name beginning with Z.  To the glory of Zion we come.

Attercliffe gets a bit of a bad press locally to be fair.  It offers up faded industrial glory, and it doesn’t bode well that Wikipedia pronounces its attractions as basically the fact that it is located on the supertram route and used to have a lovely cinema.  Which is a bit like saying to someone they almost won the lottery, if they’d just had one more number, unfortunately, on this occasion they’ll be going home empty-handed.  Cold comfort indeed…


Attercliffe is also closely associated with a the Channel 4 TV show A very British Brothel which featured the daily life of business at the City Sauna, on Attercliffe Road.  It was quite a gentle documentary to be fair, more cosy than sleazy according to The Guardian so it must be true, but still not exactly the image the Sheffield Tourist Board would be keen to feature on the front of their ‘Welcome to Sheffield‘ webguide.

city sauna

So, upshot was, Sunday dawned, and once I’d had my marshalling fix in the white out that was Graves Junior parkrun I made my way over to Attercliffe for our Dragonfly rendezvous. I’d got so cold in the snow at Graves, I wasn’t brimming over with enthusiasm for a 7 mile run, it was freeeeeeeeeeeeezing.


Fortuitously though, the sun came out.  I found somewhere to park, and we rendezvoused at Accelerate on Attercliffe Road, which is handily very near Zion street so pretty much bagging the A-Z in record time!

Just to add an element of mystery to proceedings, I opted to park round the corner and lurk in my car out of the cold rather than stand shivering outside Accelerate.  Well, I had a lot to mull over. Which coat, should I wear my woolly hat?  What about dragonfly wings – fashion triumph or fashion tragedy?  I was relieved to see others arrive and park up too. Soon we were a fair old gang of dragonflies, I don’t know what the collective noun is for dragonflies.  A brilliance of dragonflies maybe – google says it’s a cluster of dragonflies, but I thought it was warts that came in clusters, and so I’m sticking with Brilliance.  It might not be strictly accurate, but sometimes we have to rewrite our own narratives to improve our lives do we not.  Be the change you want to make in the world, that sort of thing.  Mostly it’s pretentious nonsense of course, but I find I need to cling to what fragile hope I can in times of adversity. This seems to be one such time.


Anyways, after a bit, more of us appeared, and we did a bit of smiley greeting of one another, which involves collective faffing about what to where, who was supposed to be coming, whether or not we were all here, to fancy dress or not to fancy dress, that sort of thing.  There was some experimentation with new ways to wear a smiley buff, not sure that went all that well, but you have to try these things don’t you, before you can make an informed choice.


Then there was some excited posing for photos by the Zion Lane sign, just because we could.  Also, some concerned chit-chat about where our actual run leader was, she in possession of map and instructions, and later on we’d discover a tick list of required roads as well. Turns out, she was only waiting outside Accelerate in accordance with the rendezvous instructions!  honestly, and there were all the rest of us running amok in the presence of Zion. What larks eh, what larks.


Couple of things you need to know about our posing by signs strategy.  We spent ages trying to perfect the group selfie, and then just when we thought we’d absolutely nailed it, another dragonfly arrived, a bit belatedly and we had to do it all over again.  There was also more faffing what with pinning on wings etc.  It’s quite complex socially and logistically, this alphabet team run endeavour. Really, it is.


At this point in running proceedings we were all in the same place at the same time and quite motivated to do such group shots.  It would be fair to say our enthusiasm and ability to convene together at the same place at the same time depleted over the course of the next couple of hours.  Oh dear.  Still, bright and brilliant beginnings.  Also, good to see actual dragonflies are quite good at posing together too. In the photos alongside one another above a bit, they are the one’s on the, erm, let’s see, erm leeeeeeeeft, maybe?  You choose.

Some opted to rock the nymph look, with the added bonus of mortifying their offspring later when they find out they went out in public sporting their buffs in this fashion.  I did wear my hat.


So, once convened, and once me and one other had donned our dragonfly wings, what the hell, off we went…. not very far at all, as it seemed that the next couple of street signs came thick and fast, and we were still only metres from where we started.  Also, still up for group shots at this juncture.  Yes, this much fun!

lawrence street group shot

and this proximity from where we started:


off we shot and then another sign, good oh…..


From hereonin, honestly it was a bit of a blur.  Our super-organised leader had all the necessary paperwork and strategy, and shot off at a fair old lick whilst the rest of us trailed in her wake. Some of us did more trailing than others.  I had no chance of keeping up, so it was all a bit surreal.


The route was quite remarkable.  As we were dipping in and out of fairly seemingly random side streets to nab various letters, we went down roads I’d never normally venture down  Taking in the delights of Attercliffe’s industrial past and present.  Joking apart, there is some absolutely stunning architecture in the area, but sadly it’s just been allowed to die away into dereliction.  Some of the building were only built about 100 years ago, and yet in that short time have been abandoned to rot all boarded up and abandoned.  It’s really sad, the area is crying out for regeneration. We must have looked pretty incongruous, running through with some gesture to fancy dress and periodically stopping to excitedly photograph street signs for no obvious reason to any passers-by.  In truth, there weren’t all that many passers by, Attercliffe is pretty deserted on a Sunday lunchtime it would seem.

Early adventures included the sighting of alien dragonfly egg on the pavements of Attercliffe. This possibly would have been worth an extra Smiletastic point, but we forgot to claim for it.  I’m not quite sure what it would have hatched into, as we didn’t wait around for long enough to find out, but once again google has delivered one option.  I’m quite glad we weren’t there to witness it.  Maybe an escapee from the Attercliffe exotics shop.  Who knows?  Exotic shops have more than one meaning in Attercliffe, but then again, I’m sure City Sauna caters for all sorts of niche preferences, this specimen could therefore have originated from either.  Sleep well people, sleep well…


In other news, our ophiophobic smiley colleague managed to cross by on the other side of the road to the snake shop, whilst we supportively took photos of her being brave.  One for all, and all for one, and no photo opportunity too small to bank for future reference.


Despite my scurrying along at the rear,  I was very proud to espy this sign on a bus-stop which I still maintain could have spared us all a great deal of running around, but the others were too far ahead to hear my cries at this point.


We ran on.

There was childish giggling:


An attempt to nab an X (there are no road signs beginning with X within the boundaries of Sheffield postcodes apparently)


Attercliffe slowly revealed its many mysteries as we pounded its damp pavements on our mission.


There were some navigational adjustments to be made, it’s quite complicated doing a run with such obsessive focus on street names


We tried to stop and photograph signs, but then we did a lot of running backwards and forwards to make sure we could truly claim to have run down each alphabet road, not just run past a street sign.  We also decided many of our shots just weren’t active enough, so we had to try again with actual running poses.  It’s harder than you might think documenting things for posterity.


Exploring is fun.  We took a minor detour to take in a bit of spontaneous track work, partly to honour Smiley Elder, it being her birthday and all, and partly because we fancied our chances in a one hundred metre dragonfly dash. We did, until we collectively decided it was too slippery to do much more than pretend to run, though one of our number did manage a complete spirit to the finish in fine form and fettle. Bravo!


Then, as there had admittedly been quite a lot of faffing, the pace picked up again, I just breathlessly followed on as best I could, whilst the lead runners performed the necessary navigational tasks, list ticking and photographic record keeping all in the time it took for me to get them back within hailing distance.  I didn’t feel I contributed much apart from ballast, but then ballast has a role to play, ships might sink without it.  I’m not quite sure how far that analogy extends to running contexts, but I’m prepared to let that go.  I tried to keep them at least in sight, for the most part…


There was a brief moment of hope for me, when we found one of those ofo bikes, which pleasingly , was in my livery colours.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a smart phone, so was unable to unlock it, but good posing opportunity.  Likewise, found a gym that looked like just the job if only it wasn’t such a long way from where I live.   Syd sure has been working his biceps and not taking steroids at all.  Impressive!


Scampering on…  We went through soulless industrial estates, under old Victorian bridges, past sadly derelict once magnificent public buildings, and on through modern housing estates, where cooking smells rose out of kitchens, and we must have looked exceedingly out-of-place.


We occasionally gathered up, mostly when our leader got lost, and did some more random posing.  Jubilee road almost completely defeated us, and we did a lot of toing and froing before a local resident pointed us in the right direction. She was very helpful and friendly and didn’t even appear to register how incongruous we must have looked let alone enquire what we were up to. It felt a friendly place.


There were some opportunities for not very imaginative practical jokes.  Like when my fellow winged dragonfly lost her pink wings and another runner appropriated them. You wouldn’t believe how long it took for her to realise this had happened.  I think we may have been somewhat oxygen deprived at this point, as we found it disproportionately entertaining.  You had to be there.  Still, bodes well for post the apocalypse, if ever we have to make our own entertainment with limited materials and opportunities on which to draw.


Even though Attercliffe most definitely has its industrial heritage at its core, there were some welcome green spaces.  Including one where there wasn’t so much a trail of breadcrumb, as a road of white sliced bread.  I couldn’t help wondering if another Smiletastic team was even now on operations in the vicinity, and this was some ploy to help their less well sighted running buddies navigate their way home.  Lord knows I was completely lost.  I clung on for grim death at the back, if my companions disappeared out of sight completely I’d never have found my way home again.  Whilst Attercliffe was a great deal nicer than I’d imagined, I wouldn’t really want to end my days there running round the streets in ever decreasing circles, with my dragonfly wings becoming ever more battered and torn as hours became days and days became weeks and so on until I shrivelled away to join the skeletal frames lining the canal which we came upon later.


HOnestly, it was all a bit of a blur. What I do know, is that we successfully got all our alphabet, minus the ‘impossible’ x, within about 6 miles, but then we had a canal detour to bagsy our x.  This was a separate mission impossible, except it turned out it both was and wasn’t.  Wasn’t, because we did it, and was, because although we did it, there was no actual road sign, so massive anti-climax.  Oops.  It did involve dipping down onto the canal path, and running a straight mile to the city centre, emerging at Victoria Quays – another run route I’ve never done, but keep meaning too.  Before we did that, just a few more amazing  buildings to appreciate, it would be so great to see these brought back to their former glory..


The canal detour – once we’d once again resisted the temptation to catch a tram, and got directions from a local to actually get down by it, was quite impressive. For them as can run fast, this is a fast bit. I can’t, and was also thwarted by my choice of shoes.  I was wearing road shoes, but this was pretty muddy and slippery, trail shoes would have been much better.  oh well, next time eh?


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I’m always a bit dubious about tow paths.  I like the idea of running near water, but I’m not so keen on the being trapped on a narrow path aspect of it. Also, as one of my fellow runners was keen to remind us, it’s always runners who find dead bodies on tow paths. That’s not strictly true of course, it can happen to dog walkers too.  A friend of mine was walking her dog along a canal path in Leamington many years ago and she found a body. The worst of it was, this was pre mobile phone days and she had to stop someone to borrow a phone to call for help, the first person didn’t want to get involved and just left her.  Eventually she did get a phone, but was left alone next to a face downward floating corpse until the police arrived. Then, to add insult to injury, they wouldn’t allow her to walk back the way she came because it was a possible crime scene, she had to walk an extra five miles to get home.  Not a good outcome, and maybe this has contributed to my aversion to ‘lovely’ canal walks even if only in my subconscious. To be fair, the dead person had had a worse outcome, though for the record, there was no foul play detected.

We didn’t find any actual corpses, but we did find some that had apparently been boiled down to the bare bones and then displayed.  It was quite an impressive show with loving attention to detail.  I wouldn’t mind ending up here.  Then again, hiding in plain sight, it’s the classic ruse isn’t it, to get away with murder.  Obvious place to conceal a body if you think about it.  I suggest you just don’t.  I do like a good pun too ‘Musn Grumble’ hilarious, see what they’ve done there!


Then on again down the tow path


and more delights revealed themselves.  Soppy valentine moments aren’t for me, but a group smiley hug, that’s nice!  Mind you, if hugs aren’t your thing, check out this handy video on how to take appropriate evasive action in a variety of hug ambush situations.  You’re welcome.


and then there was the white horse, and the red dragon, see what we did there, we were ON FIRE(ish)!


and there were pretty flowers – well one anyway also a dead rat, probably rather more than one of those, but only one that was especially noticeable:


And then, almost suddenly we were at Victoria Quays where a barge proclaiming itself ‘the kids’ inheritance’ welcomed us on to the cobbles.  These weren’t all that welcome for sore feet.  At least one of our number was suffering the after effects of a 17 mile fell run the day before, and cobbles today weren’t helping.


So the climax of our run was to get onto eXchange street.  See what we’ve done there.  Unfortunately, despite adding a mile to our run, there wasn’t a single helpful road sign to proclaim our success, making it somewhat anticlimactic.  Though we were able to find a handy X scrawled across a board somewhere and a potential ‘valentine themed observation’ in keeping with the individual challenges for February so beloved of Smiley Elder who has many great qualities, but lacks a certain cynicism with regard to romantic love which is a bit of an oversight in my view.


And that was it.  Run concluded, just as the sky was getting dark and it was getting cold again.  We dispersed.  Just time to play chicken at one of the railings on the canalside,


and then we were back in Attercliffe before we knew it!


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Magical mystery tour all done and dusted.  If you are interested in our route, and it isn’t one I’d be able to replicate, here is the strava map for your edification and merriment:

strava route

Check out the inadvertent dinky heart in the bottom left hand corner.

So to conclude, this is our alphabet gallery of gloriousness, all nabbed in S9 (pretty much)


Job done.

One future challenge might be to do an ultra and see if they can all be done in alphabetical order.  That would be a might challenge for someone else though, not for me.  This wasn’t a favourite run by any means, though I did like seeing parts of the city I’ve never espied before, it was just hard being reminded constantly of my running ineptitude as faster runners sprinted ahead.  On the other hand, at least I didn’t entirely miss out, and I have a new appreciation of Attercliffe.  The redevelopment that is already underway is impressive, maybe it will yet be a new sporting centre as it aspires to be …

It is home to one of the highest concentrations of sporting facilities in the UK with the Olympic Legacy Park,[6] incorporating iceSheffield and the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield, located in the area

according to wikipedia, which, as we have already established, means it must be so.

So that’s good.

Easy as ABC..  Now we know.

So who’s up for the ultra alphabetical order alphabet run?  Answers on a postcard please.  Bet it’s been done somewhere.


Categories: running, teamwork | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blowing hot and cold about running? Beware both ice and fire on the Sheffield trails.

Digested Read: still doing my long walk for endurance, round Sheffield walk take two, augmented by a golden segment, ice and fire.  Unaugmented by litter and the casual misogyny of youth.  Progress is slow, marathon training wise, but I suppose slow progress is still progress.  Here’s hoping.  Hope over experience is sometimes the only hope you have to hang on to.  Also #votesforwomen still work to be done.

When I say todays’ yomping out on the Round Sheffield Walk involved encounters with both fire and ice, I am not referring to my tendency to blow hot and cold about what I laughably call my ‘running’ exploits, but I mean today I quite literally came across both.  Look:

Sheffield’s answer to a volcano erupted through snow.  All the spectacular scenery of Iceland, but none of the sulphuric gases and unpronounceable names.  See, practically indistinguishable.


Though to be fair, both represent sub-optimal running conditions. Just as well it wasn’t really a running day as such. Also, I’m hard core, so lived to tell the tale.  Plus, I set out on my Round Sheffield Walk route march a bit better prepared than last week.  Every little helps.

Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about?  That’s not a first. Well, I’m allegedly in training for the London Marathon, but not so as you’d really notice.  Because I’m a run/walker/yomper rather than an actual runner, I’m building up my distances through long walks to build stamina, and adding in the running as a greater proportion of each walk, rather than doing continuous long runs of ever increasing mileages.  It’s not maybe a conventional training plan, and it remains to be seen if it will work.  All the same, I think it’s my best bet to avoid injury and get me round.  I’m not seeking a podium place, just to get round with my dignity in tact. Actually, I don’t really care about retaining my dignity, as long as I finish before the cut off point and get the bling and therefore associated blagging rights. This may sound shallow, but it is at least honest.  All this being so, you’d think it would be a commitment to my marathon training plan that got me out the door today to do my 15.7 mile route march, but honestly, it was probably more Smiletastic.  You know, the Smiley Paces running club winter challenge.  Soooooooooooooooo stressful you have no idea.

It wasn’t supposed to have worked out like this.  Today shouldn’t have been my long run day.  However,  I’d pledged to do a 15 mile long run this week for Smiletastic, so mission critical that I achieve this or my whole Dragonfly team suffers (and I thought collective punishment was clearly defined as a war crime under the Geneva Convention). The fact that I’m allegedly in training for a marathon so need to rack up the distances for that as well is almost incidental.  I keep forgetting.  I think I’m in denial about the whole thing.  Anyways, the point is,  I only have a limited repertoire of long runs on which to draw, and also very limited ability to run any long distance at all. However, not to worry, I had a cunning plan.  Unfortunately, as Baldrick  himself would vouch for me, the best laid plans don’t always quite turn out as anticipated, irrespective of the quality of the turnips used in their execution.

cunning plan

The cunning plan, such as it was, was brilliant in it’s simplicity.  One of the great boons of being part of a fine and friendly running club, apart from the access to a gang of awesome, funny and smart women with whom to eat cake obviously, is the access to a wide network of amazing runners. Not just any old runners (even the old ones are young at heart) but ultra-runners.  Excellent. All I had to do, was befriend a couple, throw myself at their individual and collective mercy, and parasatise all their run routes.  I worried a bit about exploiting their good will, because anyone who is willing to run with me, will end up doing a lot of walking.  I wasn’t entirely sure what I could offer in return for their time and navigational insights.  You might like to think it was the pleasure of my company, but that’s a completely implausible explanation.  Maybe they’ll get credits for their Duke of Edinburgh gold badge or something.  Or maybe they’ll agree by accident because of my grooming skills, be instantly consumed with regret,  and subsequently be motivated to join up for assertiveness classes. That would benefit them in the long run, (pun intended), so they’d not be entirely wasting their time acting as guides for me if it led to such important personal skills development.

Point is, I reeled a couple of them in, and we were going to go off and do a 14 mile explore round the reservoirs at Derwent and Howden and have a chat along the way and coffee on conclusion.   It was all set for Friday. Then (cue dramatic music) disaster!  One of my guides was declared ill with unknown affliction, and only able to venture out with an accompanying drip (awkward for walking long distances, those drip stands are rarely all terrain) and the other incapacitated due to foot injury, which turned out to be a stress fracture. She would therefore only be able to venture out if carried the whole way round in a sedan chair.

sedan chair

That’s fine, and I’ve even found a suitable one on ebay or whatever which is a snip at £9,900 but I just don’t think it would have arrived in time for our sojourn. Also, bit nippy out for minions to be carrying you round shirtless.  I wonder how you sourced sedan chairs before the arrival of the internet?  It’s a mystery.

sedan for sale

The upshot was, I’d have to motivate myself to go out, and once again the weather has been shocking, cold, snow, ice.  I decided to take the easy option, and just do the Round Sheffield Walk route again today instead, with the added literal and metaphorical bonus, that I could take in this week’s Smiletastic golden segment whilst I was about it.  I could still meet with my ultra running buddies to check if they are really incapacitated or just in cahoots to avoid going out with me just for coffee and a catch up. Granted, this is a slippery slope, as recently, when parkrun was cancelled due to ice I found you can still have a post parkrun brunch without doing parkrun firsts if you are all there anyway.  If I learn this latte minus the pre-run option is effective and available everywhere and in all circumstances, well, let’s just say it will be elasticated waists for me in perpetuity thereafter.  No Friday run, but Friday coffee, that’s not so bad.  My running tights have an elasticated waist anyway, so I can go prepared…

In the meantime, today was Round Sheffield walk, incorporating a new golden segment.  What could possibly go wrong?

clough lane smiletastic segment

As I cannot be trusted to run segments on my own (last week I had to go  back and do the golden segment round Chelsea Park all over again after inadvertently cutting off the beginning of it, mightily displeased about that) I took the precaution of enlisting the help of another dragonfly to pick up en route, so we could do the segment together.  Mind you, I felt I was being unnecessarily cautious in this respect. I knew exactly where this was and no mistake.   Just up from Endcliffe Park.

It was bitterly cold on waking, but mercifully dry, so as I picked my way down to the park rendezvous the pavements weren’t slippery at all, the sun shone, and my sandwiches bounced up and down in my backpack with a pleasingly reassuring thud as I went down.  I was first to the rendezvous point by the café, so sat in the sun watching the world go by, and marvelling at the Endcliffe Park Independent Café’s moss-covered roof. It is really stunning.  Should have taken a photo for illustrative purposes really.  Never mind, here is a parkrun one from the week before. You’ll get the idea.

epic cafe 27 jan

I did have the foresight to take a photo of the frog, or possibly toad.  I like this wooden sculpture a lot, it’s time it got a showing.  It wasn’t tremendously interactive to be fair, I think it might be hibernating, or if not actually hibernating, being dormant, which I think is more accurate in the UK context.  I’m sure Frog Life know their amphibians.

frog or toad

I think toad actually, frogs are more smooth-skinned.  Let’s go with toad.

So I’m sat in the sun, watching the world go by, and eventually my dragonfly buddy appeared.  We marched up to forge dam putting the worlds to rights, and then at the forge dam café, decided to get some take away lattes because we’d walked all of a mile and a bit by then, and were having a nice morning out so why not. The lattes were really good actually, and would have been improved only by our admitting to ourselves that it would have been nice to sit down and drink them at leisure, rather than carrying them round with us.  We asked not to have lids, in an attempt to reduce plastic a bit, but a sit down would have been more eco-friendly still, as well as more enjoyable.

We reached a bit of road where we thought the segment might start. Complete confusion.  My eyesight wasn’t good enough to read the map I’d printed out, and now we were actually there I was confused as to whether or not it was the right place. Critically, I’d also been planning to run it in completely the wrong direction.  After much dithering, picking our way through ice patches to read road signs (did I mention that as we ascended, there was a lot of thick and treacherous ice patches along the way) we reached agreement as to which way to go. Worse case scenario, we’d upload it immediately afterwards to check, and then run again if necessary.  I was so relieved I didn’t risk heading off on my own.

The first part was absolutely fine, but when we turned into Mark lane we hit a comically extreme patch of ice.  Even in broad daylight it was a nightmare to negotiate.  No chance of heading out after dark to bagsy this one without fear of instant death.  Water was still streaming under the ice, and adding to it, if the temperature dropped again, as forecast, it would practically be it’s own glacier, probably visible from space.  Or would be, were it not for the tree cover thereabouts.

I’m a bit disappointed by the ice photos, it looks less hazardous than it was.  The weird nondescript photo is of beautiful icicles that had formed where water ran out of a dry stone wall, so there are my photography credentials exposed for all to see, no wonder I have to borrow freely from others for so many of my blog posts.  Oh well.  You get the idea.

With all the faffing and chatting, the 1km loop took blooming ages to get round, but we had a nice time, so that’s the main thing. Then we said our farewells, as dragonfly buddy had important things to do and I had another 10 plus miles to tick off and (unfortunately) those miles weren’t going to walk themselves now were they.

I was in quite good spirits heading up the valley.  I think having a latte before I’d even really started was good for morale. The sun was bright, the air crisp, and the scenery gorgeous. Very few people were out and about.  I went a slightly different route, clambering up what I call Jacob’s Ladder, but which might not be. It’s a steep hillside clamber that takes you on the footpath through the alpaca farm (gawd those fields and field shelters look a mess and you emerge a bit below the Norfolk Arms.  I marched past there, and then crossed the road to head down Limb Valley. There was less snow, but a fair bit of ice.  I rather regretted not having nipped into the pub for a precautionary pee – maybe having a latte wasn’t such a good idea after all, so went slightly off piste for a  – well you get the idea.  This brought a new discovery. How have I not see this leaf man before?  A creature from the undergrowth.  I like it.  It’s sort of hidden, so not too intrusive, and the art work sufficiently impressive that I’d call this urban art rather than vandalism or graffiti, though perhaps strictly speaking it is both.   Actually, not really ‘urban’ either, so I suppose that makes me wrong on all counts…  Not a first.

You see this is what happens.  I head out on a Sheffield yomp, convinced I won’t do a blog post this time because it will all be a bit samey, and the Sheffield Round Walk, lovely as it is, has been done to death by everyone, and yet you only have to venture a few metres off the track to discover new hidden treasures.

Look how lovely it is out there.  Cold yes, but picturesque certainly. And this was just ice, not come across the fire yet!

Down through the valley, the ice was really bad. There were was one section where a couple of walkers from amongst a larger group had managed to traverse and ice patch, but those behind them were thwarted. It was like one of those action adventure films where the rope bridge has fallen down the canyon leaving some of the hapless adventurers stranded on the wrong side.  One older man tentatively stepped on the ice patch and we all looked on in horror as he slid helplessly in slow motion down the slope with gathering momentum.  I can’t have been alone in thinking he’d end up plummeting onward into the stream at the bottom of the vertiginous hill.  Somehow he used his walking sticks to brake, but the randomness of this approach did not inspire confidence in those behind.  In the end, I clung onto a nearby tree as sort of ballast, and linked arms with each of the walkers in turn so they could pass.  A bit like this, only I was clinging to a tree not a mountain side.

clinging on

It was all very companionable and community initiative based.  It was treacherous out there though.  I’d half wondered if I should don the running shoes this week and build my speeds, but there’s no way I’d have felt safe running this route again today.  I’m going to have to bow to the inevitable and find some lower level and even  –  heaven portend – road routes even, if I’m ever to pick up the pace.   Still, worry about that another day.

I emerged through Whirlow, which again was looking picturesque, and then stopped for sandwiches at the bench at the entrance to Ecclesall Woods.  Point of information, that I think is interesting, because this is all about me, even though I was out for ages today, my stamina was way better for having some snackettes on the way round. Who knew nutrition was an asset for endurance?  Granted, you probably aren’t supposed to actually stop for a picnic en route at a marathon (though wouldn’t it be lovely if you could) but keeping my blood sugar levels replete stopped mid-excursion grumpiness for sure.  Anyway, it meant I was having a nice enough time that I felt no need to abort my romp out and catch a bus instead, rather carrying on to explore the delights of Ecclesall woods and the secrets it had yet to reveal.

Through the woods, sharing hellos and greeting with the few others I came across.  After that blooming climb in Ladies Spring Wood (which did not feel any easier at all this time)

Fuelled as I was with my humus and watercress in pitta super food, I even had sufficient surplus energy to go and finally take a detour to look at Beauchief Abbey, which I’ve never bothered to do before. I couldn’t go in, which was disappointing, but I could admire the mossy grounds, golden weather vane and immaculate architecture, and try to memorise the guide board that was helpfully in situ.  It’s an impressive history to be fair.

The most amusing sighting of the day however, if by ‘amusing’ you mean jaw-droppingly outrageous, was on the Beauchief golf course.  I refer to the tees.  Initially, there was the simple disappointment of the misleading signs.  I didn’t get so much as a sniff of a cup of Yorkshire tea at any of the tee signs, let alone the fourth tee, and don’t get me started on their spelling!  But the real shocker was this:

It took me a while to comprehend this.  I note as usual the men are on top and the women covered in mud and being asked to go to the side whilst the men can crack on straight ahead.  Ladies and mens golf tees. What the? Has the world gone mad? Is this a known thing?  Do the men hang out smoking cigars, drinking brandy and guffawing at misogynistic jokes whilst the women pose on their tee eating lady-friendly crisps and discussing what to cook their husbands for dinner later on whilst trying to avoid getting their kitten heels caught on either their crinoline petticoats or worse still the green?  Or is this actually a progressive innovation, and the eleventh tee has extra toilet facilities for the ladies, who are usually ill-served in relation to such provisions at sporting events?  Is it that men running golf courses, like those organising cross-country events, fear women’s wombs will fall out with the exertion, or do they just fear women? It’s a mystery.  Some are campaigning for change in the XC running different race lengths ‘norm’  though the reasons some give against change are toe curling in their ludicrousness.  Marshals out for longer?  Seriously?  Apart from the fact it just depends how you time and order events, and that women marshal too, and many marshals are more than happy to support runners who finish at different times, have they not come across the phenomenon of super speedy women runners who can run the arses off their male counterparts.  Would that not add interest to the event. Percy Pud 2017 anyone?

First woman flying round AB

I have no idea why there are different tees, the Beauchief Golf Club website offers no clues. Though the ladies course is shorter than the men, and they refer to ladies and men as opposed to women and men which I find bizarre. They do have a very fine 1951 course map though, which we can all agree is quite splendid.


So I pondered this as I plodded on in the sunshine.

Subsequently I would be informed, to some disappointment, that this is apparently accepted practise because the average woman cannot hit as far as the average man – I don’t know if that’s true.  I’m dubious, but it’s possible I suppose.  Fortunately sexism in golfing remains rampant in other respects, even if that particular example may have some basis in logic.  The world is mad.  Bro-go areas still exist though.  And it’s been said golf’s biggest problem is sexism however, I enjoy the reasoning given for in the Womens Golf Journal article Gentlemen Only which reports that – admittedly back in the 19th century.

a certain Lord Moncrieff who, would you believe, decreed that women should not hit the ball any further than 60-70 yards.
“Not because we doubt a lady’s power to make a longer drive but because that cannot well be done without raising the club above the shoulder,” he wrote. “Now we do not presume to dictate but we must observe that the posture and gestures requisite for a full swing are not particularly graceful when the player is clad in female dress.

Remind me again why adherence to ‘tradition’ is seen as a legitimate justification for discrimination, abuse, pretty much anything quite frankly.  It isn’t immediately clear…

The next cause of excitement was I think when I encountered a youth and his dog in I think Chancet wood, but actually I have no idea now. Could have been any one of the woodland trails with a steep slope towering overhead on one side, and plummeting down beneath me on the other.  Anyway, initially unseen, they lost their footing and tumbled down a bank and nearly landed on top of me. Oh dear. We all lived to tell the tale. I managed to embarrass myself by inadvertently shrieking as honestly, it was like he fell from the sky and caught me unawares. (Not like that). He was mortified at having so somersaulted, and in his anxiety to remove himself from the awkward social situation, promptly slipped again, arse first, down the remainder of the bank, shouting up behind me that he was ‘absolutely fine’, while his companion canine was having the most fun out on a walk EVER, as it jumped and barked around him as he continued his descent.   I think not, but on balance, was happier to be left to attend his own wounds, than have a middle-aged Smiley fussing round him.

The latter part of the walk, after Graves Park is not as interesting, and doesn’t really improve with familiarity. This time, as I was going down litter lane.  I don’t know whether to call it litter lane or dog poo pass.   I coincided with school children bolting out of the rear entrance of Newfield School at the end of the school day. The litter and dog shite in bags hanging from trees are really bad here.   One thing of interest though, just as I was getting really cold, was a sudden blast of heat coming from a huge but orderly bonfire.  It was extraordinary, like walking past a great furnace, so you see I wasn’t lying when I said today’s effort was about ice AND fire.  Unlikely as it seems, both were present.  If it hadn’t been behind a locked gate, I’d have lobbed some of the rubbish on it.

I noticed there is a particular accumulation of rubbish by the school gate, and I can’t lie, it does make me think that maybe a major source of the littering has to be from pupils making their way to and from school along this path.  Not exclusively, but it created a really bad impression.   I’d be ashamed if I was in the management of that school and pathways around it were knee-deep in litter.   Whoever is responsible, surely you’d want to clear up your own back yard, and you could involve the school community in it, as they would be obvious beneficiaries as many of them no doubt walk it every day. Some of that trash is faded and half buried in the ground, it’s been there for a long, long time.  Many months, maybe even years.

The children coming out were in big groups and boisterous, releasing pent-up energy, shoving each other as they negotiated the paths.  It was pretty unpleasant. I found my mindset shifted.  Only last week when I did this route I thought I’d come and litter pick it myself in better weather, but now I strongly suspect the culprits are some of the pupils and their littering is compounded by general apathy from the school in not clearing up even outside their own gate, I felt a bit differently.  Nursing  fantasy rage scenarios of strongly worded letters to the school. At the same time I recognise it might have been in part that I felt quite intimidated by the large groups yelling at each other, and as I passed by the co-op heading into Meersbrook Park, I witnessed some ‘friends’ shouting ‘bitch, bitch, ugly bitch’ at one of the girls who’d had the misfortune to stoop to tie a shoelace just where there was a dog typing up ring outside the shop.  It was a large crowd, and my perception was boys shouting ‘bitch’ at a girl, and encouraging others to do the same.    I lingered for a bit to see if I should intervene.  The language calling was certainly inappropriate, and I found it offensive, but the ‘victim’ did appear to taking it all in her stride and so I thought the better of it.  It troubled me though.  In a way it’s worse she appeared OK with it, is that sort of behaviour so normalised at that age?  Ganging up against a young woman just because you can, and it makes you feel powerful, and what can she do about it because you are ‘only larking about’.  Gender based assault masquerading as ‘just a bit of fun’ between school children?  Lawks a lordy we need MeToo.  Might yet contact the school.  Children can be cruel, but they can also have a wicked shared sense of humour, from the outside you can’t always tell.   Upshot was it did spoil my mood and my walk and I made a mental note to run round faster next time so as not to get caught up in Newfield School pupils pouring out the school and swarming the streets around on their way home.  That and raged at the injustice of the world.  I did quite a lot of the inwardly raging.

Not all were riotous of course.  There were some children rather sweetly gathering up tree branches in the wooded areas just playing.  Just ahead of me, two firm friends, one really tall, and one significantly shorter, walked purposefully along, deep in conversation.  I wondered if they were the same year, or neighbours perhaps of different ages.  I’ve worked in schools, and one thing that really struck me, especially with the boys, was how young people of the same age could be so physically different depending on when puberty hits.  Some clearly young men, others pre-pubescent and awkward.  Adolescence is a challenging time. Even so, maybe a strongly worded email, just to make the point.  I might start it with ‘Why oh why oh why‘ that would definitely add impact.  I won’t at all come across as a mad middle-aged woman with an axe to grind.   Even so, might just give my axe a good old grind, could come in handy, and you have to do something to bring about change sometimes.  Those suffragists and suffragettes did a bit more than a letter writing campaign to get the vote. Hurrah for them! One hundred years on from getting the vote for women, I do celebrate and acknowledge that, but I despair at how far we still have to go.  People don’t like to surrender privilege without a fight.  Then again, I do want to say about the rubbish and the ‘bitch’ comments, but I don’t want to either have to go on hunger strike or be force fed, which was basically state torture of women campaigning for the vote. It’s a dilemma.

political prisoners

Male and female tees

Men and ladies different XC courses

Calling your female class mate a ‘bitch’

Characterising women who raise their voices as frustrated, ugly, middle aged – not much changes does it?

Sound familiar anyone?

Everyday sexism, everyday misogyny.

I’m properly depressed now.  The walk that was to clear my head started well, ended badly.  My mood sure, took a nose dive after the school.

Oh well, I must think instead of the women who went on campaigning, in spite of the resistance, the hardship and the unknown outcomes.  They showed physical and mental endurance, as such, they too can be my marathon training role models.  If I can just channel my inner suffragette, I can nail this.  Maybe I should ditch Geronimo as my running companion for London and go as a suffragette.  Did you know that at the time a photographer Christina Broom documented a lot of their actions.  Me neither til just now, but any one of these outfits in Green, White and Violet would be splendid.  Now, who do I know with a sewing machine who might help.  I’m sure there must be a broken-toed Smiley somewhere willing and able to step up to the task..

and I do like a fine hat, so there’s a thought.

A thunk indeed.

So there you go, that was my endurance test for the week done and dusted. It was physically much easier than last time, having food on the way round helped.  The weather was better. The ice is an issue though.   I still haven’t done anything like enough actual running, but I tell myself the elevation and uneven terrain must help a bit from a cross training point of view. Also, it remains reet nice out, so all is not lost.  Yet.  Plenty of time to lose it before April.

Yep, I am confident I will definitely have lost it by then.  Definitely.

So that’s alright then.  Yes?

Oh, and this is the route, my slowest ever rendition of the Round Sheffield Walk, but hey ho, that’s more hours on the legs isn’t it, good for endurance.  15.78 miles and 2003 feet.  That’s good to know.  Not necessarily helpful or relevant, but the numbers please me.

strava route

So that’s still alright then.  Yes?


Anybody there?



Categories: off road, running | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Marathon Madness? Taking on the long and lonely trails. Reet nice out though. :)

Digested read: my marathon training preparation may be lamentable in conventional terms, but I’m trying.  I did a looooooooooong walk of the Sheffield Round Walk yesterday and it was reet nice out (get me and my Sheffield riff).  We are so lucky to have all this on our doorstep in Sheffield.  Get out and make the most of it people, you will not regret it.  I promise.

It occurred to me dear reader, that you might have been wondering how my marathon training has been going.  I know I have.  It’s quite a worry.  Can’t lie.  I’m scared.  Terrified even.  I have spectacularly failed to get into any kind of running routine, which I’m pretty sure is the key to any consistency in training and getting close to achieving this goal.  I’ve been thwarted to some extent by ice, snow, house move related annoyances (who knew you have to waste whole weeks of your life waiting in for people various who may or may not come), and my confidence has taken a knock.  I have difficulty even in saying out loud ‘I’m doing the London Marathon this year‘ in case people openly laugh in my face.  I need to do so though, to make it real.  I suppose inside I must believe this is possible, or I wouldn’t be putting myself through it, but a huge cloud of self-doubt hovers overhead. I wish that would go away, it isn’t really helping, and maybe it’s that black cloud that is lowering the temperatures to such an extent that black ice makes even stepping outside the front door too hazardous to contemplate let alone venturing further afield.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

There have been some minor steps in progress along the way.  I got a London Marathon place, that’s a biggy, with the ballot odds as they are for the London Marathon.  I am not starting from nothing. I have to keep reminding myself of this.  I may be a slow runner, and generate a reaction of incredulity rather than admiration in those that see me out and about training, but I have got round a fair few events now.  Including the Sheffield Half and the Dig Deep 12.12, both of which I was pretty sure were almost impossible before I actually did them. The almost is critical here.  I knew they’d be hard, but deep down inside I thought sheer bloody-mindedness should see me through.  However, with an actual marathon I’m not so confident.  I fully appreciate that the jump from a half to a full marathon is a huge one.  I won’t be able to blag it, and I have to recognise that whilst I’ll give it my best shot, I can’t possibly know how I’ll cope until I’m doing it.   Preparation is key, but oh my, how much does life/ the elements/ injury get in the way of it.  I suppose if it wasn’t a challenge there wouldn’t be much point in doing it, but aargh, I wish I was further on that I am as we enter February.

What I did do, just before Christmas, was see a physio because I was angsty about miscellaneous niggles and stiffness, and I didn’t know if I was developing hypochondria, Munchausen’s or whether my body was actually disintegrating by the hour.  On balance, I was pretty sure it was the latter.  Whilst I didn’t want to give up before I’d started, I wasn’t over keen on having body parts fall off either on the way round the London route or during training.  I thought a check up might help.  On a serious note, my real fear at my age (50+) and with no natural sporting aptitude whatsoever, is getting injured in training.  In my heart of hearts I think if I make it to the start of the London Marathon uninjured, I’ll make it to the end.  However, I didn’t fancy embarking on a training plan when my calf was all exploding with cramp and my legs wont bend properly.  It’s no an auspicious start is it, when your body is in constant protest if you try to run, it’s hard enough overcoming my mental reluctance to set foot out of the door.

Well dear reader, the visit to the physio was a great move.  Apart from the mysterious ability of physios to do magic mendy things with their bare hands, it was very reassuring. So I went to see a local physio who I picked because I’d previously been to their ‘preventing running injuries’ workshop, and that was really good, and for me, relatable.  I’m a recreational runner, not part of a sporting elite, and I felt it had a lot of realistic, ‘common sense’ type information and advice I could understand and implement.  Probably.  So I made an appointment just before Christmas and on a chilly day limped over and then spewed out all my concerns at the feet of the poor physio.  In essence, I’m supposed to be doing the London marathon, but my knee niggles, my calf complains, my legs laugh at me, my back aches, and I’ve hardly run for a month due to, well life basically, getting in the way. Oh yes, and due to me being generally a bit crap. That too.  And I keep seeing other people posting their Strava triumphs and I’m way behind them and… well ‘what am I thinking? Who am I trying to kid?  What should I do?’  That kind of thing.

So her first question was:

Do you actually want to run the London Marathon?’

This was in fact a really good question.  Because I absolutely do, but I get that maybe some people, on receiving a ballot place that they never seriously thought they’d win, panic and feel obligated to go through with something for which they never had any real serious intent.  I’m not in that category.  I really, really want to do this.  So much so, that I can hardly breathe (and not only when I’m trying to run), but I am scared of not doing it justice and I don’t really know how to go about it. Well I do in theory I suppose, but doing it for real is another thing altogether!  Anyway, the sincerity of my response told me, as much as her, that yep, I’m absolutely up for this, but I want to avoid injury in training at all costs.  I believe if I start, I’ll finish.  Probably, well I hope so.  My main challenge is to keep injury free so I can do the training.

Yes I do!  I really do, but I just want to get around, I’m not fussed about time‘, I practically wailed.  Hopefully, she’ll have seen all this before, and I didn’t scare her (too much).  She did move offices quite soon afterwards though I noticed, but I expect that’s just a coincidence.  Anyway, her reply was quite reassuring:

That was my next question. Are you aiming for a particular time?  Because if not, then it’s completely doable, you could do it tomorrow, it might not be pretty and it might break you afterwards, but it is doable.  So right now, we just need to get you back to running regularly and build up from there

Easy.  Logical too I suppose.  It is nonsense to compare myself to other people, especially when they are inherently fit and 25 years junior to me.  I have to start where I’m at, and not be deflected too much by training schemes that aren’t relevant to me and might actually be detrimental.  So instead, she did her magic physio fairy dust and healing hands and tweaked and shifted muscles and limbs so I left with them functioning OK, and I re-set my running aspirations more realistically, and left with a plan to build up miles on my legs with walking, and just start doing what I can regularly, because frankly anything is better than nothing, and procrastination is not my friend.  Turns out I’m not broken, though I am stiff, and there is no reason why I can’t run apart from previously referenced innate inability and lack of personal motivation.  Which is what I said, not her by the way, I think most physios are trained not to pass judgements as harsh as those we pass on ourselves, even if they are true.  Well not out loud anyway.

So I need to get going, and I need to remind myself why I want to do this, and it’s actually hard to articulate without resorting to memes or clichés. What the hell, let’s use those:


See.  Nothing like over-worked clichés to put you back on track!  What none of these cover though, is the fear of failure.  If I blow this chance… well I shudder at the thought.  I need to hang on to the ‘why’ as that may help motivate me.  Even so, with all the motivation, and all the help at hand, I’m still struggling to put together a workable plan and put it into action.

So, my plan, such as it is, is to acknowledge, I’m not going to be able to run the whole thing, so I need to accept that, and pace myself accordingly.  It also means, there is little point in me doing ever longer long runs in my training, lengthening the distance by 10% each week (though I now know that’s an over-ambitious figure anyway) as if I waited until I could continuously run the required distances before extending, I’d never get beyond 10k.  Instead, I’m going to do some Lucy style training.  This is idiosyncratic I know, but I’m hoping not entirely without merit.  So, the plan is, accept my limitations, but put a lot of focus on miles on the legs and hours on my feet.  I am resigned to the fact it is going to take me a loooooooong time to get around the London course, well, I want to get my monies worth by being out as long as possible, obvs.  Hence, that’s what I need to replicate in training.  I’ll keep my staples, my weekly parkrun, and two other runs a week.  However, once a week, I’m going to go out and do a really long walk, the plan is just start by walking, literally, because I know I can do that. As my fitness improves, I’ll start running sections, and, the theory is, over the coming weeks, the percentage time I spend running as opposed to walking will increase, so I might not be extending my runs in the conventional way, but I will extend my running time and at the same time clock up distances without risk of injury from over-training.

It helps that I have the Sheffield Round Walk (about 15 miles) right on my doorstep. This takes in some lovely views, its a fair old hike, so that’s miles on the legs, and there’s some respectable elevation too, about 1,864 ft.  That’s got to help with cross training, surely?

sheffield round walk map

Here it is again, I give you the Round Sheffield Run Route via Strava.   Lovely 🙂

strava round sheffield run sheffield round walk route with elevation

There is a really good outdoor city guide to the route but weirdly, and I speak as someone who has done the run/ walk many times, it seems that it is only signposted if you do it in an anti-clockwise direction.  The signage is patchy to be fair, and I doubt you could to it ‘in reverse’ if you didn’t already know the route.  Anyway, I digress, the point is, I decided I needed to just test my fitness, and head out and do the 15 mile (ish) walk.  So that’s what I did.

First though, I googled ‘can I train for a marathon in 12 weeks’.  Astonishingly, google was not all that conclusive or personalised in its advice. Though I did come across a hilarious training programme that basically started from zero, assuming three runs a week.  And the first long run was 6 miles, and you kept adding 2 or 3 miles each week, until you got to 22 miles and then climaxed with the actual marathon. So that’s very easy.  Looks good on paper indeed.  I conceded, not without some reluctance, that browsing hypothetical training plans was less helpful than actually going out and getting some miles on my legs.  The day before had brought with it blizzards and biting sleet, not so much ‘wintry showers’ as shards of glass, flying at you through the sky, from all directions!  Yesterday though, there was something of a break in the weather. This was the day.  I will do this.  I deliberately wore walking rather than running shoes, so there was no pressure or temptation to run.  I’d actually been ill earlier in the week.  Properly, in bed with a temperature, so I didn’t want to overdo it, but I did want to head out.  I wrapped up in warm clothes, and took water and some cash and off I went.  Beginning with a  march down to Endcliffe Park.

It was reet nice out!  Bit nippy, but bright sunshine, some ice. Endcliffe park café was mysteriously surrounded by thick-set security guards in hi-viz and what looked like an ambulance response unit.  Also the café was shut.  Turns out they were filming something, I don’t know what, but hey ho, that was novel.  I made my way through the park and up towards forge dam and beyond up to Ringinglow. And do you know what. It was gorgeous. My legs felt strong, the air was fresh, the few people around friendly.  I feel so lucky that we in Sheffield have all this on our doorstep.  Underfoot, the terrain wasn’t great. The higher up I got, the thicker the ice and/or mud. There were some cheery exchanges with other walkers out and about debating whether or not we’d make it up or down depending on which direction we were heading off in.  I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to run in this, even if I’d been wearing my fell shoes.  Not so much the mud, but the ice, I just don’t know if my shoes would cope.

Plus, I wouldn’t have fancied getting ankle-deep in icy mud early on, on a 15 mile route march, cold feet are grim.  Wet cold feet are grimmer still!  But you know what, it was glorious.

Look at this:

reet nice out

Actually, I’m not sure the photo does it justice, but you get the general idea.

Down through Limb Valley, where tree-lined banks loom up beside you. There was no-one about, but it was truly spectacular.

tree line

Coming down towards Whirlow the light made some of the trees take on amazing silhouettes.  Check out this giant rhinoceros beetle!  I know.  Huge.

and then you are in Ecclesall woods, and there were mysterious hidden dens and some stunning pine trees. The sound of this wood is different from the march up through Whitely woods.

Emerging from here, you cross Abbeydale road, and encounter the killer steps.  Even though this is a walking section for the Round Sheffield Run, they are not for the faint hearted.  I felt my energy levels subsiding, I promised myself a drink of water when I got to the top and wished I’d brought some food with me as well.  It’s astonishing how long it takes to walk this route. Even though my ‘running’ is comically slow, it is still apparently, a lot quicker than walking the same distance. It was lovely out, but I was beginning to nurse dark thoughts. I’d not even walked 10 miles yet and I was flagging, how am I supposed to run 26 plus miles!  I tried to remind myself that I’ve still got time to train, London is flat, game’s not over yet, but the enormity of the challenge is pretty clear.  I gave a hollow inward laugh as I wondered if with training I’d find myself scampering up these same steps a few weeks from now.. Doubtful  But you know what’s really, really annoying?  It’s that in photos the steps look completely innocuous. Inviting even.  How the camera lies.

Like I said.  Really annoying.

The temperature started to drop, and truthfully, I started putting my head down and just marching through, there were fewer photo stops, and more inward cursing my lack of fitness.

On the plus side, I could still put one foot in front of the other, I would do this, and next time will be lots easier.  There were still lovely surprises to take in along the way. Catkins, I defy anyone to look at a catkin and not feel joy.

Even on the grimmest, litter strewn part of the walk, just after graves park when you go down alongside a school I think and down a steep narrow path where discarded syringes play for space alongside cans, crisp packets and other rubbish there were little moments of joy.  Like this bench, which I’d never noticed before has little carvings on it. How lovely is that.  And the bright yellow gorse, that doesn’t just attract rubbish onto its thorny foliage, but was full of bright flowers.

I’d like to think that maybe in the summer I’ll come back to this path with a bin bag and gloves and do a litter pick, it was pretty bad.  Looks like a rat run for the school perhaps, or maybe it’s just the way the landscape funnels the wind so rubbish from everywhere gathers. Depressing though.

Not depressing, was the group of walkers I found at the bottom of the hill. Raucous, not particularly appropriately dressed for the elements but having a ball.  One had lost his shoe in the mud and, to much hilarity, others were shouting advice but offering little in the way of practical assistance.  A micro adventure in the moment. That is what happens if you head out and about, running or walking or otherwise.

I can’t lie, I nipped into the co-op on my way to Meersbrook, but I was starving.  I remembered I needed to buy some loo paper too, but decided that even though the large packs were on special offer, carrying a 9 pack of toilet rolls for the remaining 3 miles of my walk might not be the best of plans, even by my low standards!

Quick check of the Bishops House, and the amazing view, which in the winter sunshine gave all the building really clear outlines.  It was like looking at a painting.  You could even see the snow on the hill tops beyond the city buildings.

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Then as I left the park, there was a curious lost creature.  I thought it was a teddy at first, but it was sort of pig like.  Very peculiar.  I hope it found its way home. The temperature was plummeting, and globules of icy rain spitting down on me.  Not nice to be out and about.

lost creature

There followed my least favourite bit of the Round Sheffield Run/ Sheffield Round Walk.  Quite urban, and something of a shock to find yourself in amongst houses and shops and the paraphernalia of daily life after the relative solitude and loveliness of being up on them there hills.  However, on this occasion, things were looking up.  I’d been inwardly debating what to do for my Smiletastic ‘find something appropriate for Valentine’s Day on your run’ in order to bagsy my individual bonus point for the w/c 12 February.  Being somewhat cynical about the whole idea of Valentine’s Day, my original idea was to write a pamphlet on why it’s a cynical capitalist construct and be done with it, but I wasn’t sure that would be accepted as being quite within the spirit of the challenge.  Imagine therefore my delight at seeing this, a symbol of the disposable nature of romantic love if ever I’ve seen one. Brilliant:

Rubbishing romance (1)

There followed more hearts, bringing new gloriousness to this part of the route.  How have I previously missed these I have no idea.  I’m quietly confident my Valentine’s Day Smiletastic claim is in the bag.  Hurrah!

I had a bit of a spring in my step after that.  Maybe because of that, I was feeling the Smiletastic love, so noticed with new eyes the colourful mural on the back of B&M.  It’s an area of Sheffield where a group have worked really hard to create a garden of sorts and a colourful picture of native wildlife – albeit not entirely to scale.  Although the grasshoppers were not evident in the picture, other Smiletastic 2018 teams (dragonflies, ladybirds and bees) are represented.  Surely a symbol of our collective endeavour?  Do you think it would be better if the hedgehog is the size of a ladybird or the ladybird is the size of a hedgehog?  I’m not sure. I’m thinking a dinky little hedgehog would be rather delightful, but a giant ladybird somewhat terrifying.   Especially if it was an invasive harlequin ladybird. They aren’t good news.  This looks like a proper native one though, so that’s OK.

From there, that was it, nearly home.  15 and a bit miles later, weary feet, but job done.

What I’ve learned.

  1. I need to do more long outings to get miles on my legs, it has to help with stamina and cross training, those hills are killers.
  2. My base line of fitness isn’t great, but nor is it the worst in the world.  I just need to stick with it and not get disheartened too quickly.
  3. Foam rollering afterwards did genuinely help with my calves.  Note to self, need to read up how to do this properly so I don’t just slide about/ off the foam cylinder, but at least I’ve now got it out of its wrapping and created a space for foam rollering. It’s only taken me two years to do this.  Progress.
  4. Food would have been a good idea, I was out for ages.  I didn’t feel weak exactly, but I think I’d have been more cheerily disposed to the second half if I’d taken some peanut butter and Marmite sandwiches with me.
  5. Sheffield is ace.  The Sheffield Round Walk is full of surprises, worth doing a bit more slowly than usual
  6. Why do the Sheffield Round Walk signs only direct you one way round? I’d like to do the route in reverse, but I think I’d get lost, the signage is pretty rubbish.
  7. At some point, I am going to have to do some actual running on my training runs.  A harsh but incontestable truth.

So, I think from yesterday’s excursion all is not completely lost in relation to the London Marathon, but I do have a very long way to go.  In summary,  this is what have I done towards the marathon so far:

  • Secured a place – that’s quite a biggy actually, and I know against the odds I have been incredibly lucky
  • Booked a train ticket and accommodation
  • Been to see a physio
  • Googled training plans ‘is it possible to train for a marathon in three months?’
  • Gone for a very long walk
  • Got angsty about what other people are doing
  • Signed up to do Smiletastic

Well, it’s a start, a small step along the way, and you know what, that’s how every journey and every run starts.  One foot in front of the other.  Then repeat.  How hard can it be?*

I hope a few short months from now to look back on this post and laugh with joy at having achieved the seemingly almost impossible.  I recognise I may have to face an alternative truth, wehre I look back on this post and laugh at my naivity for even thinking I could try.  No worries.  I’m not going to predict the outcome now and make it into a foregone conclusion. Other people have done this, why not me.  Plus, think of the bragging rights, and the getting to feel invincible, even if only for a moment. That’s some runners’ high to hold out for.

What are the odds? Who knows.  I don’t believe anyone can run a marathon, let’s face it, not everyone would even want to –  I’m not sure I even believe I can, but I do believe I can give it a darned good shot, and find out by trying.  I also know from watching the London Marathon that the people who finish aren’t necessarily those you think will.  It’s a mental strength and tenacity that carries people through. Why me?  Why should I get around? Well, why not me?  Let’s do this.  Here’s holding out for the time I can say, been there, done that got the t-shirt.  Now wouldn’t that be something…  Just so you know, if I do, this wont be me:

told noone

Run a marathon without talking about it!  Pah.  On the plus side, I’ll be way too self-absorbed to notice if you aren’t listening, even if you have your fingers in your ears shouting ‘don’t care, don’t care‘, so nothing to worry about on that score.  Plus, I’ll probably be unable to walk for months after, so you’ll have no worries getting away from me.

Also, it’s only a marathon. Not like an ultra on the Dig Deep weekend or anything.  Now that really would be a tale to tell….

*Rhetorical question.  I know the answer. I am just not ready to hear it spoken out loud.


For all my Round Sheffield Run related blog posts see here, scroll down for older entries.

For all my London Marathon related blog posts see here, scroll down for older entries.

Categories: motivation, off road, physiotherapy, running | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

For the love of running in celebration of Valentine’s Day?

As if the run up to Valentine’s day isn’t stressful enough, the timing of Smiletastic (Smiley Paces Sheffield Women’s Running Club winter running challenge) overlapping with it spawns new horrors.  Our beloved Smiley Elder having incorporated a seemingly innocuous requirement ‘in keeping with the season’ to complete an individual challenge as follows:

1. Individual Challenge: By Midnight Sunday February 25th I would like each individual to submit ONE (the first one from each is the only one accepted!) run during which they celebrated valentines day. This can be by something like dressing up (easy peasy), making an appropriate Strava drawing, road signs/names, etc. Your choice! Extra spot points available for particularly inspired efforts, but everyone who submits an effort will earn points in Week 8.

This is a dilemma for me.  As with many Smiletastic challenges, I found myself going through a series of stages akin to the five stages of the  grieving process according to the Kübler-Ross model.  You know.  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression before finally reaching acceptance.  In fact, I’d go so far as to add in the shock and testing addendums to be honest.  I do appreciate and enjoy Smiletastic, it certainly helps me get out there and run in the inclement, dark and dismal winter months, but it is at times stressful.  And although I invariably feel fantastic once the respective challenges have been successfully concluded, I usually despair at the initial seeming impossibility of every task before eventually moving on to realise I need to face up to whatever it is, come up with some solutions and ‘make it so.’

All the same, I’m not a massive fan of Valentine’s Day. It is afterall basically a commercial capitalist conspiracy to make single people feel inadequate and anyone ‘coupled up’ pressurised to buy pointless, over-priced, trashy knickknacks, knowing if they ‘fail’ the appropriate purchase test then the relationship which they hoped was burgeoning will instead be doomed, because a pink fluffy rabbit and enormous smutty card didn’t quite cut it.  Or they committed the cardinal sin of buying their partner sexy crutchless lingerie when the knickers the recipient really wanted were in fact runderwear.  Not the same people, really not the same.

In the spirit of anger and denial, I was originally thinking of just composing a treatise on why Valentine’s day is simply a cynical marketing exercise to fill the coffers of multinationals and contribute to the plastic waste in the oceans as people exchange worthless gifts that will be discarded and end up in landfill quite possibly even before the month is out.  AFter all, the rules do state that all submissions would be rewarded.  I thought I might make it a bit more palatable to the reader by decorating it in glitter or something, maybe.  But then again, glitter is really bad for the environment too is it not?  Also, could I be arsed?  It’s a dilemma.

I wanted to participate and do my bit for the team achievements, but not over-enamoured with the whole romantic love theme.  What to do? So I was stomping round the Sheffield Round Walk route yesterday (an attempt to put miles on my legs as part of my marathon training – another challenge about which I appear to be in complete denial) with this churning around in my mind.


What could I do that wouldn’t be too saccharin, but might meet the requirements.  Well, I’ll tell you what dear reader, just look about you!  Isn’t it always the way. A run can clear your head and offer up practical solutions to seemingly impossible tasks. No really.  As I made my way out of Meersbrook Park, a vision appeared before me.  A perfect manifestation of the complexity of Valentine’s Day.  Literally rubbishing the romantic ideal. Genius. What’s not to like?

Rubbishing romance (1)

There you go people, a bleeding, broken heart, shunted out onto the cold winter street along with the rubbish.  Rarely have I been so happy to see an over-worked symbol of romantic love sprayed on a litter bin. I’d go so far as to say ‘never’ in fact! That’s the individual Smiletastic challenge in the bag, I though, I need not write my treatise now, and waste glitter, so everyone wins. Yay!

But you know what dear reader?  This part of the Sheffield Round Walk just kept on giving.  Only a little further on and even more delights were delivered up as I was musing on my good fortune.  Look what I found next.  Not just another heart, but an anagram of our Smiley Elder’s own name, with the ‘M’ preface to emphasise her marvelousness, magnificence,  majesty, and mightily magnanimous nature, to all and sundry (as if that was necessary).  Things were most definitely looking up!

But you know what?  Valentine themed sightings are like buses, they come in threes.  Just a couple of hundred metres on, and another heartfelt sighting.  Now, this may not please the grammar police of course, I feel an apostrophe is needed somewhere, and personally I favour capitalisation in these circumstances, at least at the commencement of the sign, but even so, never noticed this place before:

My fathers heart

I was happy.

From the bottom of my heart.  Hearts everywhere, feeling the Smiletastic love.  Here’s another..  No really, it was there, under the bridge, near the muse heart.  Hurrah!  Not that I approve of graffiti, obviously, but don’t see why I can’t use it to my advantage if it’s already out there.


Love Sheffield

Love Smiletastic. Never said otherwise.  Honestly.  🙂

Didn’t see this one out and about today, but endorse the sentiment.



Categories: motivation, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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