Digested read: parkrun day, Graves parkrun had a birthday, yay! Six today, party, and a sixties party at that. Geronimo and I used it as our last joint run pre London (aaaaaaaargh) ’twas wondrous. Great to catch up with folk over coffee and cake and as for the celebrity sightings – well you should have been there dear reader. Miss parkrun, miss out. FACT.
Elvis may well be working in a chip shop, I think that’s old news now, but what is perhaps rather more breaking news, hot off the press in fact, is that Bowie is back performing again – leaving his darkstar to materialise at Graves park in Sheffield. Fact. More of this later.
I’m mid taper now pre London Marathon now. Which is now eight days away. EIGHT DAYS! Can’t imagine what it’ll be like to get to the other side of this deadline. To be fair, I think I may have gone a bit overboard on the resting part of the taper. Problem is, I did genuinely pick up a bit of knee niggle at the Sheffield half last Sunday, and I am terrified of making it worse, so basically I did nothing at all for a few days afterwards. Tempting though it is to test it, I felt rest it was the better option. The accepted mantra is you can’t increase fitness at this point, but you can exacerbate injuries. Then again, lard-arse tendencies take over pretty quickly and by Thursday I was thinking I’d never be able to walk again, let alone run. I had reached that point of decrepitude when you involuntarily make noises as you shift from e.g. sitting to standing, and this does not bode well. I’m so stiff! It’s ridiculous, can’t imagine doing a parkrun, let alone a marathon. I should be joyfully cavorting round my abode with sprite-like lightness of foot and bouncing off the walls with excess energy at this point, surely? Not fantasising about being reunited with my duvet all day… On Thursday I decided I had to do something and so went for a walk into town, about 7 miles in total. Not exactly arduous, and I’m pleased to report, knee felt better not worse afterwards. However, not to worry, I have plenty of other things to fret about. Specifically, I’m now really worried about the weather forecast. It’s predicted to be 21 degrees on Sunday! That’s crazy, all my training has been in single digits. Now I’m worried about heat intrinsically, but also how that will impact on hydration and maybe even electrolytes. Also, fun as the Sheffield half was, and fine as a companion animal Geronimo turned out to be, we did have a couple of fancy dress fails, ideally I could do with another practise run with Geronimo, but I wasn’t over keen on undertaking this as a solitary endeavour, and laps of the garden wouldn’t really replicate the road running experience. What to do dear reader? What to do?
As always, the running community of Sheffield delivered, just for me! Specifically, Graves parkrun announced that it was having a fancy dress themed parkrun to celebrate it’s sixth birthday! Hurrah! Perfect. It was as if it was a gift just for me. Good parkrunners of Graves, I thank you!
Geronimo loves fancy dress and this way we could have another nice chilled run together, and practice getting our stride in rhythm together so we can yomp round more comfortably when we get to London. Apart from the heat. No idea what we are going to do about that. Whatever approach we take though, we are going to be in this together!
Astonishingly, there was no sleet, snow, ice or even rain today. I did wonder if I might be hallucinating, but reassured myself that even if I was this unfamiliar, nigh on trippy sensation brought about by the unfamiliar sight of sunshine would be entirely appropriate for the theme at today’s parkrun, so no need for alarm.
As usual, I got to Graves park ridiculously early, parked up, got a ticket for the carpark, and then sat in the car listening to the news about bombs being dropped in Syria, recoiling at the seemingly unending vortex of horror that is the state of the world today and contemplating my throwback pink CND symbol necklace and wondering whether anyone, anytime, anywhere has ever given peace a chance… Eventually, having espied a couple of Monday mobsters decamping from their vehicle, I plucked up the courage to emerge from my own car, and kitted myself and Geronimo out ready for action. We can so rock this sixties chick look don’t you agree:
I think the daisy headband rather suits her, I might see if she wants to keep that for London. The colour suits her.
As is always the case, despite it not being my home parkrun, I quickly saw a fair few familiar faces which was great, and reassuring. One person said she recognised me from the half, I have no idea how that could be, obviously. Mobsters were out in force – hurrah, been a while since I could tick off quite so many in one go in my I-spy book of Monday Mobsters, so that was a win. A few were in magnificent fancy dress – at least I think they were in fancy dress, to be honest, they looked so at home in their gear I don’t know why the don’t wear it all the time… maybe they do?
Definitely an option, now we seem to have the warmer weather.
Precautionary pee was a challenge due to firstly the queue for the loo, and secondly the lack of a lock on the door and the distance to the door from the throne. My arm just didn’t stretch that far. Oh well, a little adrenaline surge pre parkrun can only be a good thing.
As always at Grave, there was soon a good humoured gathering. Even though it’s a busy parkrun, it has stayed small enough that it’s always really friendly, and you get a sense that most parkrunners know, or at the very least recognise one another, so it’s basically always one big hug-in, only on this occasion with added sixties flare, or more accurately flares. As if there wasn’t already more than enough vitality and glamour – pizzazz if you will – turns out, the RD had only managed to channel a mahoosive celebrity for the morning. They kept this quiet in advance, I can understand why, conspiracy theories abound, and this one-off appearance was a reward for the loyal parkrun regulars and locals, whilst tourists and visitors will always be made welcome, it would have cheapened the occasion if people only came to gaze in wonder at the star turn and didn’t embrace the whole parkrun participation ethos. Just IMHO. I was still massively star struck though. Obvs.
Oh is it not clear to you yet? We only had Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust incarnation to do the run briefing. No way? YES WAY! Not only that, just like Elton John rewrote ‘Candle in the wind‘ for Diana’s funeral, in a way cooler exercise in creative genius, Bowie repurposed ‘Space Oddity‘ to cover all Graves parkrun eventualities. I was in complete awe. Although he was being channeled by the RD, it was like Bowie was actually there. Uncanny!
The Graves run report Happy 6th birthday Graves parkrun! (part one) Event 304, reproduced the lyrics for posterity. I hope I wont be in breach of copyright by reproducing them again here. There is also a Graves run report Happy 6th Birthday (part two), because so much fun was had, it couldn’t all be adequately communicated in just the one link!
Space Oddity (Graves parkrun special edition):
Graves Control to graves parkrun
Graves Control to graves parkrun
Tie you shoes laces and set your running watches on
Graves Control to Graves parkrun (ten, nine, weight, seven, six)
Commencing countdown, trainers on (five, four, three)
Remember barcode and may parkrun love be with you (3 2 1 go)
This is Graves Control to graves parkrun
You’ve really made the age grade
And the barcode scanners want to know your position today
Now it’s time to leave the start line without a care
This is Graves Control to graves parkrun
And you’re all running in a most brilliant way
And the cows look very different today
You’re running through the animal farm
Far from the start
The finish line is due
But there’s another lap to do
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, miss parkrun, miss out. FACT. Harsh, but true, definitely true.
This wasn’t the only novel happening of the morning. As has become something of a tradition, it is laid down somewhere in parkrun law, that when events celebrate their birthdays, they shalt run their courses backwards. Hurrah! Thus, race briefing over, milestones, tourists and volunteers all duly clapped and cheered, we were led off on a trek to the new for the day start location. The pretext for this was to avoid congestion at the start of the reverse route as you go into the narrow lanes of the animal park, however, I think we all know it was to give the hi-viz heroes a good laugh as they launched all us runners straight up a near vertical hill start, and yes dear reader, that meant we’d have to finish on an uphill sprint too. Oh the joy!
As we wandered down, I was pleased to see more familiar faces I’ve not seen in a while, and took the opportunity for some post Sheffield half debriefing. I got some top tips from others about London. I still am struggling to say out loud to people I’m actually doing this, which is crazy when it’s barely a week away now. I have trained, as best I can – admittedly, this might not be immediately obvious to the untrained eye, but I am going to give it my best go. People were encouraging though, I take heart from that. I want to come back from London, if not exactly glorious, at least with a feel good tale of how the underdog pulled through.
Hello parkrun, woodrun and miscellaneous other running friends I’ve not seen in ages:
After more communal clapping, for unclear celebratory/ congratulatory purposes, the shout went up and we were off. Not terribly fast in my case. I was telling myself this was legitimate, I just need to get my legs moving, not fall over the extra legs I had with me for the ride, and remind myself that you can always push out a parkrun, because you can. That hill was steep though. Phew.
There is something disproportionately joyful about running a familiar route in an unfamiliar way. It is weirdly disorienting, and you do see things anew. The steep start also slowed everyone down, and so it wasn’t such a mad dash as starts usually are. Cheery marshals laughed and clapped us round, animals completely ignored us as we ran through. I was particularly taken by a trio of large pigs, slumbering deeply in their straw beds, they weren’t venturing out for hours yet I imagine!
The route feels longer in reverse, and I found it quite challenging, as you get both short sharp hill sections and long more gentle upward inclines. On the other hand, really who cares, loads to gaze at, cheery marshals and other runners to interact with, what’s not to like? There was even an official parkrun photographer on hand who did a grand job of capturing many of us in action, and I can only presume edited out all the deeply unflattering ones as they are all crackers as opposed to corkers. … unless of course she just didn’t need to, because Graves parkrun!ners are exceptionally well turned out and photogenic? Now I come to think of it that is the more likely explanation. All the same, thank you Gail Moss for taking some fantastic photos to capture the glorious occasion of Graves parkrun Sixth Birthday. If you look carefully, you’ll spot the other celebrity sighting of the day in the form of Lily the whippet and wonder dog. Always a treat to see her in action! Also, one of the runners has a shirt in exactly the brown and orange of a carpet I once had. I feel it is important I share this with you. Not entirely sure why. I am of an age where I can’t quite claim to be a child of the sixties really, well actually I was, but not a teenager in the sixties, which I think is the accepted meaning for a ‘sixties child’ and would make the claim valid – however, I did live with its legacy all around me in soft furnishings in rented properties over the years. Lava lamps, string art ‘paintings‘, swirly purple carpets and avocado bath suites, experienced them all. I’m practically a walking oral history project. Ask me about the firework display when the GLC was abolished or the London Poll tax riots, you’ll ace that history project!
I was my usual slow and steady self, but at least I did keep on running, which was the point of the exercise. There was some tiny cheer leaders en route, one in a buggy who obliged with a high-five, and another with a very fine elephant covered romper suit. It’s always good to see other African mammals when I’m out and about with Geronimo.
At one point, I heard a booming voice of encouragement from Monday Mobsters on my tail ‘go Geronimo!’ that was great. Normally I have the runderwear ambassador shouting encouragement at me if she spots me slowing round the Endcliffe park route of Sheffield Hallam parkrun, clearly, for one day only, she had outsourced this responsibility! Spies are everywhere.
It was a little weird running quite literally with rose-tinted spectacles, and I got really, really hot. Partly from not having my hair tied back I think, but I have no idea how I’m going to cope if it’s as hot as threatened next Sunday. As I romped round, someone alerted me to the fact they’d seen another giraffe out on the route. Another giraffe? Awesome! Needed to track them down before the end of play.
At one point, on the new homeward straight, I had the slightly unsettling experience of seeing a familiar woodrunner charging towards me, I was pretty confident one of us was going the wrong way. Panic not, of course dear reader, it’s just that she’d finished and was homeward bound against the traffic, whilst I was still heading to the hill sprint finish. For quite a bit of the course I did a sort of leap-frog with another runner, she seemed to be faster than me going down hill, but I managed to over take her on the ups. It was quite motivating, and I found it companionable, although it was an unspoken pact between us I think, to get around the end stages in this way.
Finally, the finish funnel came into view, cheering parkrunners clapping us end of throng parkrunners home. Tokens were handed out, barcodes scanned, and celebratory roses chocolates circulated. Have I said recently what particularly fine and hospitable hosts are on hand at Graves parkrun? Really, they are!
Again, the shout went up for ‘first giraffe’ we are nothing if not consistent. Of course it’s a run not a race however, so this wasn’t particularly important. What was VERY important was to track down this giraffe comrade, stalk her, and get a shot together. Happily, I was able to spot her at the finish, cheer her in, nab her, and enlist the official photographer to document our meeting. We are a relatively small giraffe community in these parts for some reason, personally I feel even-toed ungulates are somewhat under-represented at parkrun, so it’s great when we do encounter one another to meet up properly and support one another.n Uncanny though isn’t it, we are so alike you can hardly tell us apart. For clarity, I’m the one on the right and on the left, depending on which photo you are looking at. We are both awesome, that’s the main thing.
I cheered a few more runners home
Whilst mingling, another runner appeared alongside me and told me she’d found chasing down Geronimo’s tail quite motivational. I find such comments pleasing and hilariously unlikely in even measures. Having said that, I too often try to espy a conspicuous looking runner ahead and keep them in sight, and as Geronimo certainly has a most splendid and eye-catching arse, it’s not so surprising as all that. I then headed off with selfie queen for obligatory post race selfie shots. She really has a key skill in this line, handy to have on board and at my disposal. Selfie Queen I thank you.
Then she went off to do more exercise at British Military Bootcamp because she’s hardcore, and I went off to get coffee and cake, because I’m
not having to carb up which is such a great hardship.
It was really nice in the cafe afterwards. As good fortune would have it, not only were the run director team doing a little awards spiel to mark the day, but one of the Monday Mobsters was sharing belated birthday celebrations and, more importantly, excellent home-made cake! You might think I’d feel a bit guilty for gate crashing their party, but you know what, I got over that quite quickly, and it was fabulous to catch up actually. Plus I had many pep talks with each, downloading their marathon tips, running tales and being sold the merits of the thunder run, which I’d previously dismissed as paying a huge amount of money just to spend 24 hours running round in circles in the cold and dark all on your own. I now understand this to be a team event where you get to face plant into a buffet and a complete festival going on around you at all times. I need to re-calibrate my understanding of that one – not until September, well, we’ll see.
Meanwhile, here are photos of the Rose Cafe celebrations, many were rewarded for year round efforts as tail walker, run report writers – and the cafe staff too were included, looking somewhat overwhelmed as they were thanked for their Stella work!
Also, there was more cake:
How lovely is that?
And then, as is always the way at parkrun, a couple of hours after we’d assembled, parkrunners magically dispersed. Leaving nothing but footprints, and taking nothing but happy memories and newly acquired centres of gravity, depending on each individual’s extent of cake and coffee consumption. Another glorious shared parkrun morning though, of that you can be sure.
Home, and found to my astonishment the sun was still shining, and there was a fox cub head on my lawn. Really there was. This was disconcerting, but I guess part of the circle of life as first a magpie and then a crow tucked in. Could have been worse, horses head in the bed would have spooked me more.
So a day of extremes, but overall good.
Thank you parkrun in general for another awesome offering and Graves parkrun in particular for laying on, once again, a fabulous parkrun party. All is well with the world. We have parkrun to punctuate our weeks. What ever did we do on a Saturday before?
So, for me and Geronimo together, that was probably our last joint excursion pre London. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. I’ll still do another couple of trots out, but Geronimo is going to properly rest up now. Good plan. Meantime, I need to focus on my spectator high fiving technique before tomorrow, when it’s back to Graves for junior parkrun. Instant joy. Can’t wait!
For all my Graves parkrun related posts see here scroll down for older entries
For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.