Posts Tagged With: sheffield hallam parkrun

An out of this world parkrun, Alvaston parkrun welcomes wandering earthlings

Digested read:  went to Alvaston parkrun for a spot of parkrun tourism.  It was very nice thank you for asking.  An absolute blast in fact.

pooh

Undigested read:

Yes indeedy, it was an out of this world parkrun, because it offered up an earth rise, and not (m)any parkruns do that, and I particularly appreciated this what with today being  the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing it was a nice touch.  My photo of this Alverston offering is almost as good as those taken by the actual moon landing crew of the actual earth.  I wonder if you can tell the difference?  I’m giving no clues…

… though I will say this, I think mine is actually better because you can make out the UK and therefore if you squint a bit, quite possibly the location of Alvaston parkrun itself.  Win for me therefore, though I suppose to be fair the crew maybe had other skills, but they also had a team behind them.   The Clangers made exactly this point in their Facebook post today – it takes a team to make history.  I love the Clangers.  I hope they have survived the moon landing.  Not so much as take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints, we left a load of trash last time we visited including 96 bags for poo, urine and vomit.  Poor Clangers, hope their planet is still safe.

Coincidentally, that is exactly the guiding principle of parkrun too.  Not the leaving your poo behind, that’s a definite no no, but in that it takes a team to deliver parkrun too.  It’s all about the team work – and there was a well-oiled team in operation at Alvaston today, hurrah!  Here are just some of them:

Alvaston parkrun team

In less joyful mood, Alvaston parkrun might as well have been on the moon given how lost I got on the way there.  The directions they give are good, the satnav postcode works.  However, I somehow, somewhere missed a turn off, and then I got caught up in road closure and a veritable vortex of roundabouts and circles that would have left even a Somerdale Pavilion parkrun regular, dizzy with confusion.  I’ve yet to experience their Curly Wurly route to be fair, but I nevertheless know it to be the stuff of legend, but going by their ace video of it, I’m confident I was doing the vehicle based equivalent.  Either that, or possibly Scalextric, but not in quite such a fun way.

Somerdale Pavilion parkrun

It didn’t help that my satnav was soooooooooo judgemental about the whole thing, suggesting U-turns, ‘at the first possible opportunity’ even though it wasn’t safe to do so, and then having a definite edge in her voice when I failed to oblige.  Why can’t my satnav be all friendly and supportive when it comes to a U-turn, like the lovely Alvaston parkrun marshals, such as the one exhibited below for illustration purposes?  (Thank you lovely marshal).

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At one point my satnav just entirely gave up on me and started to give my ETA as post parkrun start.  At that point I can’t lie, I did start to catastrophise a bit, WORST DAY OF MY LIFE, and may even have cried with frustration momentarily before I had a self imposed reality check.  It’d all be alright in the end, and if it wasn’t alright then it wasn’t the end, and anyway, it’s parkrun, it’s supposed to be parkfun, not worth getting into such a disproportionate state of angstiness about the whole thing.  Worse case scenario, freedom run.  That’s not so bad.

Even so, I was relieved when I got back en route, even if my need to get to my destination promptly meant I had to drive straight past Tile Town, which I’m sure is a great loss.  I imagine it’s a bit like legoland, and they recreate extraordinary wonders out of tiles.  They are bound to have done something lunar related given the significance of the day, I’d love to see the whole known universe miniaturised and recreated in ceramic tiles.  Oh well, next time.  Disappointingly, I couldn’t even find any images of this exhibition on the interweb, but I did find this very nice cactus sculpture made out of glass tiles which gives a glimpse of what might be possible, so that’s good.

On arrival at Alvaston parkrun I was reminded anything is possible apparently, so that’s good to know too.

Yeah, OK, to pacify the pedants among you, what they actually say is ‘impossible is nothing‘ which is very Yoda, but it that’s good enough linguistically for a Jedi Master then it’s good enough for me.  I took the image from Yoda’s Wikipedia page by the way, not quite sure how to attribute it properly.

Oh, you want to know what possessed me  made me choose Alvaston parkrun as my destination of choice?  Well, partly I was in search of an ‘A’ (alphabet challenge for the running challenges chrome extension), it’s amazing how even a virtual badge can assist with running motivation.  If you’ve not come across this yet, it’s basically like a sticker chart for grown ups.  Having said that, I find the running challenges operates more as a guide to choosing a parkrun to head off to for tourism purposes.  It’s all a bit arbitrary, and picking up an ‘A’ is a good a reason to rock up somewhere new as any.  Alvaston is also reachable from Sheffield, particularly if you don’t get lost in all the flyover dual carriageway scary bits, and a relatively new one.  It’s only 8 weeks old (bless).  Perfectly formed though, like my new froglets!  Have I mentioned them recently?  I do try to at every possible opportunity.  No visitor to my house, or indeed anyone who walks past it but makes eye contact with me as they do so, is entrapped and made to come and admire them in my back garden.  I’m so excited, they’ve all just appeared en masse, exiting my pond.  It’s my first year of home grown spawn to froglets and I couldn’t be prouder if I’d given birth to each and everyone of them myself, even if, had I done so, I’d probably have been burned as a witch a few centuries back – heavens, even today, given how bigoted this world seems to have become.  Maybe heading off the moon and staying there isn’t such a bad idea.  … Nope, not going down that wormhole of misery and despond, let’s admire a newly emerged frog instead.

See, gorgeous aren’t they?  Phew, now doesn’t that feel better  🙂  everybody loves a froglet.  Well, they should do, surely this is something we can unite around!  They are so very tiny, and yet completely perfect.

Where was I?  Oh I remember.  Lost, hopelessly lost.  And a bit panicky.  When my satnav was telling me (with rather unnecessary insistence and a somewhat patronising tone I felt) that I’d ‘reached my destination’ I was apparently in the midst of some sort of out of town shopping centre/ industrial estate.  Surely not?

Just as I was losing hope, this vision of loveliness and competence appeared:

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I know, how fortuitous was that!

I overshot the entrance, but this legend in a tabard, stopped the traffic so I could reverse back and into the designated Derby Homes car park.  I’m not sure how the core team have negotiated this, but it is a boon, as they have agreed:

Free parking (approx. 110 spaces) is available at Derby Homes (the entrance is opposite Wickes) on London Road, DE24 8UZ between 8:30am – 10:30am

It is worth noting the finish time though.  I completely didn’t.  More of this later.  I parked up, alongside loads of work vehicles and motivational bannering.  I do like a motivational banner.

Parked up, at around 8.30 fortuitously enough – in fact, if I hadn’t got lost, I’d probably have been too early, and never spotted the marshal or the entrance at all, overshot, and still be driving towards Dover even now, and there isn’t even a parkrun there.  Well I don’t think so anyway.  Look, it’s not important, I was just trying to emphasise a point.  Move on dear reader, move on.  The point is, it it isn’t hard to spot the car park entrance once you know it’s directly opposite Wickes, and also that it does look like you are going in to an industrial estate, because you sort of are.

The directions I’d printed out, said exit car park and turn right.  In fact, the marshal directed us left, unless I’ve forgotten how to tell my left from my right which is entirely possible, but I think not on this occasion.  So I went left, following other parkrunners to the bus stop and the slightly hidden entrance into the park just behind it.  Leaving our friendly car park marshal expertly coraling cars and parkrunners with extreme competence (yes, that is a thing).  It should be an extreme sport really, like extreme ironing.

So, I sheep like followed other parkrunners into Alvaston park.  Well, this is a surprise.  It possibly helped that near biblical rain and storms of the night before suddenly gave way to glorious sunshine, but you enter this gorgeous verdant park, which comes as a complete surprise as you’ve just been driving on a rather dull and grey roadway to get here.  Just wow!  Mature trees lined the walk way down to where the volunteer team were congregating.  It smelt wonderful, the trees heavy with pollen after rain.  The joy of that wore a bit thin as I was near asthmatic by the end of it, but you have to appreciate it all the same.  On the horizon were giant sculptural wind turbines.  I quite like them, I think they are rather elegant, I recognise not everybody feels the same, but, at least one other parkrunner paused en route to capture the scene.  We can’t both be wrong!

Other worldly indeed.  You get to pass Mars on the way in, which was a first, and if you listen out carefully, no, more carefully than that – there you go!  You can just make out the melodic tones of Holst’s The Planets, carried across to you on the breeze.  Very atmospheric.  It all helps to set the scene.

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The finish funnel was all set up.  There was a gathering of folk near the imaginatively named Waterside Cafe.

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There are loos, and I made a new friend in the queue, bonding over the mutual necessity of a pre parkrun precautionary pee.  There are only two loos, so a bit of a queue potentially, and they had alarmingly weak flushes, but fine.  There was also an informal bag drop (at your own risk) which rather sweetly, kept your bags of the ground.  We have no such provision at my home parkrun Sheffield Hallam parkrun.

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People milled and chilled, and I had a little explore.  So glad I did.  I not only discovered another planet – well, not in absolute terms, I think others had found it first, but it was a surprise to me – but I also hooked up with Jessica Ennis!  I’ve been trying to get a photo with her for years.  First tried at a VitalityMove event at Chatsworth, and she even commented on how fine my companion animal Geronimo was – and someone took some pics of me and her (and Geronimo) all together – only they didn’t, missed opportunity. Today though.  Result!  Also, I’m ahead of her on this occasion!  The camera never lies remember dear reader, humour me!

Oh look, first timers’ briefing, went and joined in that.  The briefing was good, but oh my that course is complicated, wait, what two out and back sections you say?  That’s erm, not my first choice…

It all seemed very well organised, with a lot of volunteers, the course is quite complicated so does need a fair few marshals to keep people literally as well as metaphorically on track.  Oh I suppose you’ll be wanting to know the course, well, according the Alvaston parkrun website the course blah de blah the route is as follows:

Course Description
This is a ‘pancake flat’ course on tarmac and is a creative variant of an ‘out and back’ route. We start next to the community/café building in the centre of the park completing one and half laps of the grass field ending up at the corner of Lakeside school. From there we then do a long ‘out and back’ up the Route 6 cycle super-highway turning around near Aldi. Once back at the school there is a second short ‘out and back’ section in the opposite direction turning around at the end of the park’s lake. You then finish close to where you started back in the centre of the park.

and it looks like this:

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Maybe a bit like a kite, with a string flowing out behind?  Oh I don’t know, you’ll have to come up with your own idea.  But you know what dear reader, unless you are super fast, you can just follow the person in front, and if you are super duper fast, then it’s extremely clearly signed and marshalled – just watch you don’t overshoot at those U-turns, your internal satnav will be furious.

After the briefing, parkrunners moved to the start, which was pretty near to be fair.  Although it’s a 5 minute walk to the start from the car park, the cafe, start, finish, loos are all pretty close together.

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Check out the super polite dog too – one for barkrun methinks.

then it was the Run Director’s Briefing.  It was her debut apparently, but I didn’t know this at the time as she seemed like a pro to me.  It was nice and friendly, welcoming, milestones acknowledged, tourists acknowledged, first time everers greeted, an invite for a family day in the park tomorrow and a big cheer for the graduating group from the Alvaston C25K.  It was all very friendly.  About 200 or so runners I think, I didn’t count, and can’t be bothered to go check the results – I don’t know what the normal turn out is, but I expect with it being a new one, it may take a while to plateau.  Anyway, here is the RD in action, with attentive wide-eyed in wonder parkrunners taking it all in.  It’s genuinely refreshing when people are quiet during the briefing.  Long may that habit continue, it’s a rare thing indeed.

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and then, ‘suddenly’ we had count down, 10, 9, 8 etc*, and then lift off!

I turned my watch off instead of on by mistake.  I’d like to think that was the critical point at which a new pb became out of the question, but it wasn’t.  Off we all went.  Scampering down the avenue of trees.  You do sort of one and half laps of the field, but it’s not too bad as it isn’t miles and miles and it’s fun seeing the runners all streaming ahead.  I think must thin things out a bit for faster runners too, though I think it’s a good pb course for anyone wanting to chase those, as it’s a cunning layout that means if you position yourself in the right place at the start, then you shouldn’t really be having to do all that much overtaking.  By the way, before you get too critical, it’s harder than you think to take photos whilst running, even at my lamentable speed.

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I think it’s fair to call this course erm, ‘idiosyncratic’ but no worries dear reader, it’s well signed.  At the top corner of the park there are signs to differentiate between the first and second lap routes – and then, it changes again later.  As if by magic.  These are high end marshals, not just directional pointing, high fives and cheering – though they perform those tasks admirably too, but actual relocating of cones and selves mid course.  Respect!

One new thing I saw here, which I’ve never seen before but which is genius and lovely, was the presence of an official parkrun buddy!  What a great idea.  I mean I’m just assuming that’s sort of part running marshal (keeping and eye on things on the course) and part befriending anyone that might want a friend.  Aw.  Every parkrun should have one!  Or lots.  I mean, on one level, every parkrun has the potential to become a parkrun buddy, but this sort of breaks the ice if you are new and feeling a bit of a wall flower or otherwise lost and lonely.

So we carried on round for the first lap, past the satellite dishes that are actually whispering domes which sounds a lot of fun and to the next set of marshals in situ to stop you running on to infinity and beyond, because being space themed is all well and good, but it’s better all round if we just stick to the usual 5k.  Also, you might end up in the lake if you didn’t take a sharp right here.

As you corner, you can see faster runners on the other sides of the square.  Very scenic!  And then you are back up at the ‘lap 1/ lap 2’ intersection, only this time you get to travel onwards, past the (slightly scary) owl cut out and on to pastures new.  How exciting!

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You jog on – or perhaps in your case sprint, it’s all tarmac, waving at the marshals as you pass and then you do the first out and back bit.  Caution, it’s a lot further than you expect, I don’t know why.  I think because I hadn’t looked at the route in advance, and I just assumed the out and back sections would be evenly split, and they most certainly are not!  However, it is pleasing all the same.  For example, you get to pass the marshal with the classiest leggings of the morning. Check out those different patterned legs.  You espy the dancing car-park marshal from earlier, now relocated and dishing out high fives and high tens even like they are going out of fashion, you even get to see the speedier runners rushing back towards you.  Lots to take in and all marvellous of course!  I also saw my toilet buddy from earlier – but my reflexes weren’t quick enough to snap her, and an actual proper first time ever at parkrun parkrunner and the parkrun buddy with her buddies, having a ball. Hurrah!  Feel the parkrun love people, bask in that glow of parkrun joy!

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And then you reach the end, and the turning point.  This could be viewed as a metaphorical turning point in your life, things will be different from now on, you can be the person you want to be – or you could just turn around and start over again – though that would be figuratively rather than actually, it was a 5k not a 10k today remember.  The 10k was yesterday, apparently…. I  met someone who’d run it and someone who’d marshalled it, but couldn’t find what the event actually was. Oh well, no worries, it’s been and gone now, I’m sure it was lovely, if a bit wet and blustery out!

Or it might just have been a turn around point of course, but where’s the fun in that.  Lovely helpful marshalling though.  Another highly trained special operative in action here!

And if you set your course up, people will come!  And they did, running up, turning around, running back to the tunnel and the high-fiving hi-vis hero and back to the right and down to the park bit where you can see where you started and runners trailing on right in front of you …  Wave at the tail walker, check out those leggings again, wave at pee partner, check out the tunnel mural.  It’s busy, busy, busy, out on them there paths at parkrun I don’t mind telling you!  All parkrun life present and correct.  And those photos won’t take themselves!

My favourite overheard conversation of the morning though, was when a dog walker (not a parkrunner) was strolling towards runners and her friendly hound was tempted to come up and greet parkrunners as they passed. She immediately called the dog back ‘nobody wants to say hello to you right now‘ she said firmly but with good cheer, and then I heard an immediate desperate chorus from parkrunners behind me calling out ‘but we do want to say hello, we really do!’  It was quite a cute dog to be fair, and another polite one.   I heard doggy hellos and greeting hugs being exchanged behind me as I ran on.  They seem do seem to be particularly polite the pooches in this park, no Wellard rough necks in these parts to be sure!

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and oh no, we aren’t allowed to carry on straight, we have to go out and back all over again!  They weren’t joking about these out and back bits, oh no sorree.

So awf we go again, back out towards the pond.  Haven’t we been this way before?  We go a bit further, taking in planet earth, mercury and more marshals until we get to another turn around, fair play, this is a much shorter section.  Oh, and I actually found a living thing I could overtake, left that slug standing.  Well, I say ‘standing’ I don’t know if that’s anatomically correct, upright maybe more accurate…

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Then, finally, you get back to the place you were earlier shooed away from, and you can weeeee down the hill (it’s a very, very slight downward incline) and the end is in sight.

So down you go and then another right angle turn past the marshals and you are on the homeward straight.  It’s not far now, through a spectacular avenue of trees, and towards the finish line, where it feels like you must be the first parkrunner through as a veritable mob of well wishers line the finish funnel, cheering and clapping and making you feel truly a.maz.ing.  Now, I’m not completely delusional, I may have benefited from the extreme solidarity of the C25K group who came en masse for their graduation run.  Every member was there at the finish to cheer all the other runners in their band through.  They supplemented the event team, who were also out cheering and clapping in force.   Heart warming, and also brilliant fun.  Who wouldn’t feel better after being cheered home by this fabulous lot!

Featured image Alvaston parkrun 20 july 2019

So the experience is nearly over, through the finish funnel, scooped up by the lovely scanners and time to cheer through the last few finishes.  It’s always emotional parkrun, and this seemed a particularly cheery and supportive one.  What parkrun should be, it felt inclusive and fun, with the super speedies through to the slow and steadies and the long in the tooth experienced runners to the just starting out.  #loveparkrun

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There was bell ringing, by those who felt the urge, and the C25K group, gathered for post parkrun photos, which is compulsory.  It takes a great deal of photographers to faciliate that.  These milestones matter,  good job people, good job!

and the last few volunteers found their way back to the finish hub from their spots on the course.  And I had my suspicion that occasionally the start and finish lines at parkrun do get moved whilst you are en route.  I’m not saying it’s not the event team’s prerogative to do this should they so wish, is just that I’ve never caught them in the act before.  I don’t think they were moving it any further away on this occasion though, or indeed closer, perhaps just testing the water in case of future need.  Stress testing I think it’s called.  Yep, that’ll be what it is/was.

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Aw, love the parkrun picture, check out this tableau and all’s right with the world, for this snapshot in time at least.

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Before I peeled away, I checked in with a couple of parkrunners that they’d be OK with me using their pics.  100% I spoke to seemed fine with it.  I explained my rule which is I delete any really unflattering ones unless comedic value is strong enough to outweigh compliance with personal dignity.  This seemed broadly acceptable.  However, if youa re reading this and I have included a photo in this that makes you want to crawl into a hole and never emerge again, or you just don’t want to be here, let me know and I will immediately delete.  By the way, I didn’t get any peeing shots, the person to whom this statement is relevant will understand.  All good.  😉

I then I retrieved my bag, and headed to the cafe via checking out the waterfowl, which are numerous and impressive:

Then to the cafe.  Turns out, the cafe is really good value, I got a veggie cob/bap/roll/breadcake  with quorn sausage and egg and a latte for £5 which is pretty good I think.  They also had cake and ice cream, a fairly impressive menu for the size of cafe, and it was immaculate, with seating inside and out.  I wasn’t sure I’d find a seat, but good news, my pee partner from earlier was outside on a table, which she’d been saving for her husband, but he’d been waylaid by token sorting duties inside, so room for me.  Yay!  We had a companionable chat, good to hear more of other tourist options.  Walsall Arboretum sounds fab!  The coffee was a bit rank, I think they make it with UHT but the bap was OK, and the company grand.

We were chatting away quite companionably, until, thankfully, a friendly local asked if we were in the carpark, as it shuts at 10.30.  Eek, I had no idea.  ‘What happens at 10.30 then?’ I asked, revealing myself as the dullard half-wit I am ‘erm, it shuts.‘  OK then, best get moving, what with it being 10.23.  Our conversation ended abruptly, I bolted the last of my bap, and got in the fastest parkrun sprint finish in many moons.  Those affected, made their speedy way back to the car park.

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and that was that.

For the record, I was the last to leave the car park, waving to the security guard who emerged from his hut at 10.29 just as I was pulling out.  Phew, that was a close one.  I honestly don’t know what would happen if you over stayed.  You’d be unpopular for sure, or stuck.  10.30 is plenty of time, you just mustn’t forget.  The marshals were discussing this as a group of us sprinted off, I think ‘remind visitors they need to leave by 10.30’ may be added to the ‘to do’ list for oneo r more of the hi-vis heros in future.  It probably comes under ‘any other duties’ that always covers a proverbial multitude does it not?

By the way, today was an extra special parkrun, at Alvaston because of the following happenings, all of which are epic, and all of which were reported on the Alvaston parkrun Facebook page in a post following the event.  Hurrah!

Congratulations to all 222 finishers today. A special mention to the Alvaston joggers couch to 5k group who ‘graduated’ today and Val Naylor for breaking the Age Grade course record at 99.26%. Also well done to Clare for her first time Run Directing.

Alvaston joggers couch to 5k

Did you see that though?  99.26% that’s insanely impressive.  Just wow.  In fact, it definitely is, because it set a new age category record for this week for the 75-79 age group, and I reckon it’s one that will stand a loooooooong looooooooooooooong time, as other age category records have been achieved largely by runners hitting ‘just’ the high eighties.  She got a mention in the Alvaston parkrun run report for event #8, and quite right too – ‘rocket-propelled Val’ indeed!

Mind you, having said that, she has a young whipper-snapper at her heels with Angela Copson achieving  97.12% in the 70 – 74 at Nobles parkrun today as well.  Blimey.  And I’ve never even come near their finish times now, let alone these percentages.  Hurrah for the VW.  They are bringing running home.  Mind you, some women runners are pretty hardcore.   What about that one that got knocked down by a deer in the middle of a 10k but still bounced back and recovered sufficiently to come first in her age category.  Not only that, but Karen Brewer, for it was she, told the BBC news

 “I heard a rustle and seconds later I was thrown into the bushes and a deer landed right on top of me. … After I found out I was OK, I got up straight away, I didn’t want to waste any precious seconds.  … I actually found it quite hilarious.”

and, on Friday, July 12, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands broke the women’s mile world record at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco by running a time of 4:12.33.  Just believe dear reader.  It’s amazing what is possible.  She didn’t get hit by a deer though, so I suppose she had it a bit easy really, but even so, fair do’s, that’s still impressive.

It’s been a good week for running veterans to be fair.  Did you see that Roy Englert, a 96-Year-Old man ran a 42-Minute 5K to Break World record for his age group a couple of days ago too.  He shaved 8 minutes off the previous record, and, was still faster than me today, though I dare say he didn’t stop to take photos and chat to the marshals on the way round. parkrun is a run not a race people, so I’m allowed….  Here he is:

m96-roy-englert-5000m-gold-wr-42-30-23-1563369702

So there you go, that was that.   Pretty epic.  Other epic parkruns are available of course.  Conkers parkrun did a fancy dress theme, or at the very least, some game parkrunners unilaterally decided to don fancy dress, which amounts to the same thing.  That’s pretty epic.  Went to Conkers parkrun with Smiley Selfie Queen on a penguin mission, I can imagine they’d embrace any excuse for a parkrun party to be fair, and quite right too!  They had quite a cool Conkers parkrun run report from their space-themed event in fact.  Worth a gander, particularly if procrastination is your thing.  You’re welcome, happy to help.

Bushy parkrun also had an ace run report with space referencing a-plenty.  Loving your work run writers parkrun world over!  Also, they included a picture of my mum, in good form, cheering on the runners.  Good choice.  I was pretty over the moon about that I don’t mind saying…

mum cheering 20 july 2019.jpeg

Also this courtesy of  Durham, NC parkrun, America:

Durham NC parkrun

Respect.

In other news, there was an actual al pacino, cappucino, al fresco, Acapulco, A capella chorus, when Hallmark of Harmony were a flash mob of singing marshals at Sheffield Hallam parkrun this morning.  That would have been quite something.  Thing is, all parkruns are epic in their own ways.  Wherever you are epicness will out.  I’m happy to have experienced Alvaston epic today.  I hope you embraced epic wherever you were today, or if – inexplicably – you didn’t get to parkrun, enjoyed being epic in your own way!

Only this flash mob could better that – credit to AXEL SCHMIDT / REUTERS. People dress like singer-songwriter Kate Bush as part of the “The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever” flash mob in Berlin, Germany.  Excellent.  With this photo BBC week in pictures you spoil us indeed.  Imagine that lot singing ‘running up that hill‘  just wowzers!  Maybe if  Hallmark of Harmony recruit enough new members they may yet make it so… stranger things have happened.

best flash mob ever

parkrun all done and dusted for another week.  Yes, yes, that is a wee bit sad, but there is always next week.  And remember dear reader, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!  Dr Suess – indeed Mr P S-H himself too no doubt – wouldn’t want it any other way!

dr suess

There was one poignant moment though.  I couldn’t find the moon, not anywhere.  I asked, but we all concluded it must be up in the sky where it belongs.  Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it will be safe there.  This park hosts Venus, Mars, Earth and Mercury and yet the moon sits apart.  It is a thing of wonder.  Stay safe.

Full-Moon

Of course in the meantime, no need to moon around (see what I did there?  Lawks a lordy I can be hilarious at times) if you want to prolong your parkrun fix, you can read all my parkrun related posts here.  Or not.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though.

So thank you lovely Alvaston parkrun people however you participated to make it the fab event it is.  May I just conclude by saying thank you for posing so beautifully, what an exceptionally photogenic lot you are!  One small point – constructive criticism if you will, any chance of a lead emu for next time I come?  Thanks in anticipation.   Appreciated.  This one is called Fluffy apparently, and after all, if Nambour parkrun can, then…

How exciting that so many new people were doing their first EVER parkrun at Alvaston today.  I predict a rosy future for you all!

parkrun day

#loveparkrun

*only they didn’t actually, I think it was just ‘go’ but you get the general idea

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Sheffield Hallam parkrun 421, the Run Report that never was.

Digested read:  one of my intended projects for 2019 was to have a stab at producing a run report.  I have been gifted an amazing excel pivot widget thingamajig courtesy of the fine folk of Graves parkrun in general and Stephen Gilmer in particular.  Who knew what sorcery could be executed with parkrun results stats thanks to such a tool.  I never thought I’d spontaneously bow down in worship at the potential of a spreadsheet, but really, up til now I’ve never lived, Excel wise.  Now, well life feels different somehow.  A whole new world of possibilities. Smiley Elder, I finally understand!

So I’ve had a stab at a run report, but it’s not made the cut for the official parkrun page, however, as it’s done now, here it is anyway.  A one off special. A rogue run report.  Not so much rebel runner, as rebel reporter.  Go me.  Perhaps it is no co-incidence my finish position was 666 today, the devil in me will out!  You can embrace your inner anarchist by reading on if you dare.  Also, on the plus side, I can put in extra photos now, and indulge my own idiosyncrasies with abandon so every cloud has a silver lining as the saying goes, or is it every silver lining has its cloud?  Oh I forget.

clouds-2

Dear reader, I give you the run report that never was: Sheffield Hallam parkrun # 421 – 05/01/2019

Unabridged version:

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to Sheffield Hallam’s first parkrun of 2019.  It’s a new year, it’s a new dawn but it’s the same glorious parkfun at parkrun.

On a crisp and distinctly nippy morning, 711 parkrunners took to the park to run, walk, jog the 5k parkrun course at Sheffield Hallam’s 421st event.  Thanks to awesome volunteers, the event ran smoothly, inasmuch as nobody fell in the lake (as far as this run report writer is aware) nobody got lost and everybody had fun. Yay!

A special mention to our very own Finlay for his fabulous vocal power in gathering together the first timers for their briefing, which was actually delivered courtesy of Bernie, no artificial aids to voice projection were required there.  We salute you!

the voice finlay

Sandi was in fine form as the first Run Director to kick off the new year, and reminded runners of the few rules we all need to adhere to, to ensure the continuing of this parkrun.  We are a large and mainly cheery crowd, but it is important to avoid problems by following the parkrun code.

parkrun code

Also, Endcliffe park specific rules, keep right within the park, and left on Rustlings road. No running in the road or you will not receive a result, more importantly you might get run over, and jeopardise the future of the event by causing it to be cancelled, and where would be the fun in that?

Here’s a few parkrun resolutions for 2019 borrowed from our friends at Graves:

  1. We shall give way and be nice to other park users (no effing and blinding!)
  2. We will not run on the road under any circumstances
  3. We shall only bring one dog and it will be on a short lead
  4. We will remember our barcodes throughout 2019 – not mentioning anyone’s names…
  5. We will not funnel duck
  6. We will not knick tokens
  7. And lastly you WILL give volunteering a go in 2019 especially if you haven’t done it before!

By the way, re point 3, we are more relaxed at Hallam, you don’t absolutely have to bring a dog with you, parkrunners are allowed to participate without a canine companion.  One looks fun though:

However, re other rule breakers, the volunteer team now have a spade as part of their kit to help dig a hole to dispose of the bodies of miscreants.  I’m pretty sure it’s getting to be standard practice now, by which I mean it’s required kit,  along with a defibrillator for new parkrun set ups.

resized spade

Thanks to those of you who managed to contain yourselves enough to keep quiet during the run briefing, it is appreciated.  It is no mean feat to address 700+ runners, so even if you have heard it all before, please respect other participants and the RD by holding fire on your chit chat for those few minutes.  You may think you are whispering, but trust me you have a booming voice and besides, think how much more interesting your anecdote will be if the hearer has to wait another three minutes to hear its conclusion. The escalating frisson of excitement at delayed gratification will be its own reward!

Thanks to the volunteers

We are very grateful to the volunteers who made this event happen:

Tonia ADAM, Alex ADAM, Anurag AGARWAL, Anuvrat AGARWAL, Ananya AGARWAL, Mohammed AHMED, Lucas BILLINGTON, Ann BREWSTER, Sandi CARMAN, George CARMAN, Rebecca CARMAN, Finlay COOPER, Dave DARWENT, Will DAY, Cecilia DE NARDO, Nicole DONALDSON, Bronwen DOYLE, Fran GRACE, Bernie HARDING, Judy JOHNSON, Paul JOHNSON, Anna KNOWLES, Pamela LEON, George LLOYD-HUGHES, Fran MARSHALL, Annie Anthony MAYS, Jacob MCKEVITT FLACK, Oscar MCKEVITT FLACK, Conor O’BOYLE, Marianne PUMMELL, John RAFFERTY, John ROBERTS, Andy SHEPPARD, Derek SIMPSON, John TOYNE, Chris WALLBRIDGE

Thanks to all the volunteers, especially those who week in, week out, show up, smile and make this event the success it is.  This is not only the most desirable of clubs to join, but it’s an inclusive one too, so don’t be daunted, if you want to join the team of hi-vis heroes, you’ll be more than welcome.  Just send an email to SheffieldHallamhelpers@parkrun.com . You can also opt in to receive regular emails to let you know all about volunteering opportunities.   Simply open a recent parkrun newsletter, results email or volunteer email, click on ‘manage my profile’, then ’email options’, then select the events you’d like to hear from and click ‘save opt-in events list’.   Easy.  You might even get to brandish your own clip board one day!  I know, the sniff of power can make some quite giddy!  Exciting isn’t it. If you can handle a clipboard at parkrun, you can take on the world.

clipboard custody

A few fun stats to get you in the mood.

With special thanks to Graves parkrun in general and Stephen Gilmer in particular for sharing the necessary excel wizardry to make such stats accessible.  The power of the pivot table was previously unknown to me but now?  So much fun!

For example:

Did you know that today we welcomed an amazing 86 people doing their first EVER parkrun!  Welcome to the world of parkrun, hope to see you all back soon.  I hope you all not only enjoyed your parkrun, but took part in the post parkrun tradition of coffee and cake or even brunch with friends old and new.  So a shout out to:

Adam LI Aidan HARRIS Alex HUGGAN
Alistair FLOOD Amy STREET Andrew John MILNES
Andy FREEMAN Andy SCATTERGOOD Ben HOLDEN
Calvin FEAKES Cariad WRIGHT Charlotte GRACE
Christine BAYCROFT Christine GLEW Daniel LONGLEY
Dave LUCK David SIMS Dean WHITTINGSLOW
Diarmuid CREHAN Eleanor HUGGAN Eliah WARD
Emma CHARLES Erin MERCER Esther GRAY
Esther SAMSON Ethan DENNIS Eve RAFFERTY
Faye GOODWORTH Francesca EASTMENT Georgina ROWSE
Graham ORD Hannah KIPPEN Hannah PATON
Heidi REDMOND Helen GRIFFITHS Helen JONES
Jack CHAMBERS Jack LONGLEY Jack OLDFIELD
James WALLACE Jennifer DRAKE Jenny SAWYER
Jeremy TAYLOR Jessica MOHAN Jill SCRIVENS
Joe GAUGHAN John BOREMAN Julian GOSLIGA
Julie SIMS Kate COLLINGWOOD Kate MAHONEY
Kate SALINSKY Laurie NICHOLAS Liz EADE
Louise HEATON Louise LUCK Mark LONGLEY
Matt ADAMS Megan CREHAN Mikey CHARLES
Nadia LAMBERT Nathan TIMMIS Oliver FEAKES
Oliver WOODCOCK Peter MARSHALL Polly NATYNCZUK
Rachel RIPLEY Richard HIBBERT Ruby CLARKE
Ruby JANDU Ruth FEAKES Salil DEENA
Sandy SMITH Sean DAVIES Seren ORD
Shengpeng LI Sophia PARKER Sophie HAYCOCK
Tammy HAGUE Theo FAIRBROTHER Thomas HOWARTH
Tim DENNIS Timothy LATHAM Tony LYELL
Vicky STOREY William FEAKES

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, can we also extend a welcome to the 37 runners who visited Sheffield Hallam parkrun for the first time.  Hope you enjoyed your run and the delights of Endcliffe park.  Did you manage to spot the heron on the way round?  Sometimes you’ll even see a kingfisher if you are lucky, we don’t just have ducks on the ponds here.  Thanks for gracing us with your presence.  Special shout out to the NewZealand visitors, didn’t catch your names, but thanks for coming:

Amy STREET Andrew John MILNES Andy FREEMAN
Calvin FEAKES Charlotte GRACE Christine BAYCROFT
Dave LUCK David SIMS Esther GRAY
Ethan DENNIS Eve RAFFERTY Faye GOODWORTH
Georgina ROWSE Heidi REDMOND Jennifer DRAKE
Jenny SAWYER Jessica MOHAN Jill SCRIVENS
Julian GOSLIGA Julie SIMS Kate COLLINGWOOD
Kate MAHONEY Laurie NICHOLAS Liz EADE
Louise HEATON Louise LUCK Matt ADAMS
Nadia LAMBERT Oliver FEAKES Oliver WOODCOCK
Rachel RIPLEY Ruby CLARKE Ruth FEAKES
Tammy HAGUE Tim DENNIS Tony LYELL
William FEAKES

Everyone who took part was magnificent however, here are some, captured (metaphorically not literally) by our near ever-present photographer genius George Carman.  We thank you.

The photos give many insights as to what goes on at parkrun.  This is the secret of barefoot running – stay airborne!  Impressive indeed, by any standard.

bare foot runner

Some runners even abandoned any pretence of not seeing the event photographer and gave cheery greetings, demonstrating impressive multi-tasking with running and arm waving and even the odd distorted grimace broad smiles of acknowledgement and appreciation as they sped on by.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is a run not a race, but in case you are interested, the first, second and third finishers were:

Women:

1 Sarah BURRELL
2 Celia NAYLOR
3 Tammy HAGUE

And men:

1 Thomas Denwood HARRISON
2 David MILLNS
3 Steve CANNING

But let’s have some shout outs for random reasons that please me.  Specifically, on this Sheffield Hallam’s 421st event, the 421st finisher was Colette White.  In 75th position was Mark Ansell. This year is the 75th anniversary of the crash of the B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Mi Amigo, which crashed at Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, in 1944.  Ten were killed, and they are memorialised by the monument behind the EPIC café which has been tended by eye witness Tony Foulds for decades since, he saw the pilot ‘waving’ as the plane came down.  You’ll see him out there several times a week, keeping the spot tended and clean.  Say hello if you do.  Here are some of this morning’s parkrunners, including two actual American visitors with Tony himself at the memorial.

In homage to Tony, a shout out to all the other Tonys at Hallam today: Tony HALL, Tony LYELL and Tony WILLIAMS

You can see Tony’s original story here:

There was also a Jessica Olympian sighting in the park today, so can we have a cheer for her namesake too:  Jessica MOHAN

Bravo to this week’s milestone runners:

Caroline HOPE 50, Candi LAWSON 50 and Yousef EZAYDI 100.

Congratulations all.  We’ll look forward to see you sporting your milestone t-shirts in due course!

Superwomen

Whilst all parkrunners are intrinsically awesome, FACT, can we have a collective gasp of admiration for the two parkrunners who exceeded 80% in the good for age rankings.  For those of you now blinking cluelessly at your screens, all parkrun events use age grading to allow athletes to compare results.  Age grading takes your time and uses the world record time for your sex and age to produce a score (a percentage). This score allows you to compare your personal performance against other people’s performances even though they might be a different age and a different sex to you – the higher the score the better the performance.

Not everyone is seeking to achieve ever higher age gradings, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the following percentages.  Wow!

Dot KESTERTON with an astonishing 93.51 %, and the ever smiling Kate SCOTT with 80.21 %.  To put this in context, at Cardiff parkrun today Charlotte ARTER broke the women’s parkrun world record with a finish in 15:50 for the age category SW25-29 and her age grading was ‘only’ 93.47 %.  Go Dot! Dot was faster than the speed of light, so initially I thought she’d not been captured on film today, but it seems Mr Carman’s shutter fingers were even faster.  Here are each en route, storming it:

Thank you both for giving us all something to chase!

So well done everyone for turning out – what a great start to the year.  Here’s to a great year of parkrun fun for all in 2019.

I think we all deserve a round of applause for being awesome!  Here it is.

clapping conclusion

Rebel Run Report Writer Lucy Marris A448776

 

Also, self indulgent Smiley Paces wowzers moment:

WOWZERS! Three … yes THREE parkrun category records bagged today by the Smileys or friends of …. Hallam; Dot Kesterton 65-69 in a time of 22.21 age grading of 93.51% (😲!), Concord; Nicola Rafferty 55-59 in a time of 22.14 age grading of 81.41% and the legendary Kate Morris at Rother Valley; 50-54 19.32 age grading 89.16% which is also an all time parkrun PB! UP THE OLD BIRDS !!!

Gotta love parkrun!

Til next time

🙂

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though. 🙂

 

Categories: parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Now what? Hurtling on past the post marathon blues.

Digested read: since running the London Marathon I’ve been feeling a bit down, and a bit ‘ouchy’ in the shins.  I’ve only run once and demoralisation has set in.  However, panic not, I believe I’ve turned a corner, thanks to the cheery disposition of the Hathersage Hurtle organisers who offer up a distance walk, stunning views and cake.  It’s going to be just fine.

Everything-is-going-to-be-fine-in-the-end

Can’t believe that’s really one of Oscar Wilde’s quotes?  I mean, I do quite like it, but it’s not as pithy and lyrical as you might expect.  Ah well, I’ll still take it, it’s working for me.

Did I mention at all that  I ran the London Marathon last month?  Oh I did?  Are you sure?  Are you not just making an educated deduction because I still have the imprint of the medal in the side of my face from where I lay on it whilst sleeping?  Oh.

Turns out you can only trade on the London experience for so long.  Also, and this wasn’t part of the plan, post London I did feel a bit flat (not on the stomach area unfortunately, more sort of mentally).  There is a lot written about ‘post marathon blues‘ so it is a known thing, but as with many ‘known things’ sometimes you have to experience it for yourself in order to properly understand and empathise with what it might mean on an individual level.  Don’t worry, I’m sufficiently self-aware to realise how incredibly annoying, pretentious and self-indulgent that statement sounds, ‘nobody understands blah de blah‘ but also insufficiently adept as self-censorship to delete that statement.  I suppose it’s just that whilst some clichés stand others didn’t, so processing the whole London Marathon adventure is quite challenging, well it is for me anyway.

Firstly, for me at least, it was all so far outside my previous experience of anything else I’ve ever done, once back home in Sheffield, it is a bit like it never happened.  Like I’ve been returned from being abducted by aliens, and now I’m back and I’m trying to explain to people that I really and truly was snatched away and transported back, but even my closest friends are looking at me somewhat quizzically, and frankly I’m beginning to doubt it happened myself.  I mean, if I was a cow, then my abduction by aliens would be more plausible, as we all know the first thing extraterrestrials in their UFOs do when hovering over remote American farmsteads is beam up cattle with their tractor beams.  People though, harder to believe…

So too with running a marathon, it was really such an improbable thing for me to do, I can’t honestly imagine how it happened.  Nor can I imagine going off and doing another one, not yet anyway.  How people do back to back marathons or like the amazing Ben do 401 marathons in 401 days I can’t begin to imagine.  And dear reader, I have a pretty vivid imagination, so that just goes to show how hard it must be! He’s set up the 401 foundation now by the way, that’s splendid!  The upshot is, that it really is as if it never happened.  It was too unlikely, it was too surreal, I must have imagined the whole thing.

Another issue for me, is that – and shhh, don’t tell – my experience of London was ‘complicated’.  For sure it was ‘amazing’, ‘once in a lifetime’, ‘extraordinary personal challenge’ pick and mix your own clichés.  However, it was also massively over-shadowed by the lack of water throughout the route.  That, coupled with the heat, really shifted my experience.  I was quite spooked by dehydration, mile after mile with no water wasn’t good, and for the record, it was not only between miles 7-11 (water stations 8-10 equates to five miles) it was for many miles in the second half of the route too that instead of oasis deserted water stations were mirages in the desert of hot tarmac roads.  I really tried to remain positive, but it played on  my mind and knocked my confidence.  I mean if the London Marathon can run out of water, it could happen anywhere couldn’t it? This, and the fact that after the event I heard of horror stories of injured runners who did not finish (DNF) and of people who did finish, but then spent up to two hours in first aid tents after collapsing, being laid down and covered in ice whilst medics tried to rehydrate them and stabilise their heart rhythms.  To be honest, it does rather detract from the ‘isn’t this fun‘ and overall euphoric vibe I’d been anticipating.

depression ahead

Post marathon blues is also, in my case at least, tied up with having to face up to all those problems, decisions and life-choices that I’d postponed addressing thinking they’d be somehow more  manageable post the marathon, as in ‘I’ll worry about that after London’.  So now without the distraction/ focus of marathon training I need to somehow morph into  being a proper grown up, get a job, lose weight, overcome my many and varied social inadequacies, read more books, dive back into social interactions, get properly fit, whatever.  Disappointingly, taking part in a marathon, even if you complete it, does not subsequently imbue you with superhuman skills of capability, self-belief, will-power and decisiveness.  Nor does it lead you to radiate personal charisma that ensures you will never again experience social inadequacy, alienation or personal rejection.  And as if all that wasn’t disappointing enough, furthermore, it doesn’t transform the socio-political context in which we operate.   The world is still in turmoil, Trump is still president, plastic still pollutes the seas, Brexit is still happening and I still can’t find a job and my roof still leaks.  That was not what I ordered.  What snake oil is this, the notion that running a marathon will change your life?  Why haven’t I properly metamorphosed into a better version of myself?  What was that all about if I still have to be me? 😦 Crap deal.

People aren’t even that interested in the bling, and it’s harder than  you might think to lever ‘I just did the London marathon’ into every conversation ever so casually.  Example, getting on bus ‘how much is it to the city centre?  I don’t normally catch the bus, I normally walk, but as I ran the London marathon (yesterday, last week, last month) I’m giving my legs a break‘ whatever.  Not everyone is interested in running!  What!  Still, it could be worse I suppose.  At least most people in the UK have heard of the London marathon.  I’ve been reading a book Your pace or mine,  an enjoyable account of the many runs undertaken by the author, a self-proclaimed back-of-the-pack runner.  Her numerous marathon adventures are awesome, but she is from South Africa originally.  The archetypal race there is apparently  The Comrades Marathon  a gruelling 56 miles ultra marathon with a brutally enforced cut off time of 12 hours.   Thus, this is the only race  her non-running south African compatriots have heard of.  As a consequence, if you tell a South African you run, and they are not a runner themselves, their likely next question would be ‘have you run Comrades then?’ the implication being if you haven’t, you aren’t really a runner.   That would be depressing!  At least in the UK the London marathon is significantly more achievable – if you can find a way to get a place that is of course… and if you tell non runners you have done it there is usually a flicker of recognition that this constitutes an achievement, I need to hang on to that.

your pace or mine

Another challenge, for me at least, is what next and when to start running again.  I wasn’t especially stiff after London, but I did have what I’m calling ‘ouchy shins’.  I’m not sure if this is an actual medical term, but it should be.  Anyway, I’ve done loads of googling ailments and so I’m practically medically qualified now.  At the very least I can diagnose every patient/ prospective patient in an episode of Holby City by 5 minutes in.  I digress (how unusual) but I am particularly proud of having once correctly diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy practically before the opening titles had finished in an episode of Casualty many years ago. I was watching this in the presence of a senior hospital consultant who scoffed my diagnosis based on his boring years of training, experience and medical expertise (yawn).  But people, the story line proved I was right!  Fortunately, he was a haematologist so his inability to second guess the plot lines of an episode of Casualty probably wouldn’t lead to catastrophic consequences in his day-to-day work.  Probably.  I never asked.  Sometimes it’s just tactful not to isn’t it?

Where was I?  Oh yes, so basically both my shins felt really tender a couple of days after the marathon and I’ve not really had that before. Well only once, as the aftermath of an ill-judged sports massage I had about 3 weeks ahead of London.  That knocked out my last long run as I limping so much.  Who knew you had massageable connective tissue/ muscle on the front of your shins.  Or maybe you don’t and that’s why they hurt so much.  Anyways, the point is, I’m paranoid about stress fractures/ shin splints, and it made me/ makes me, quite nervous about running again.  You’d think, well I did, that successfully completing a marathon would lead to me brimming over with confidence, secure that at last, I might actually be able to call myself an actual runner.  Not so. If anything I feel even more fraudulent than before.  The conditions on the day were so random, excellent athletes ended up with DNF,  Somehow though I did finish, but many of us probably didn’t have the race we trained for.  It makes me wonder just how much success in these running endeavours is all down to luck.  I think you can ‘make your own luck’ up to the point, by doing the training say, but unquestionably luck will play a part on the day, and the nature of luck is that it is just that. Luck.  Random. It isn’t fair.   It breaks my heart to think of the DNFs I know who deserved a different outcome, and the did not starts DNSs too.  As I say, it’s complicated.  I don’t think I was any more deserving of a finish medal than many who did not get round on the day, maybe I just got lucky?

Terrified of exacerbating a pending injury, I just didn’t run at all for a couple of weeks.  One week I joined the tail walker at my local parkrun. That was an interesting experience, being at the back of the field on what I think was the biggest turn out ever at Sheffield Hallam parkrun 805 runners.  Most who passed us (erm, everyone else taking part) shouted encouragement ‘well done’ kind of things.  I actually thought at first they must be referring to me having completed the London marathon, and then I realised that in fact I am not the centre of the known universe and so they would not be in possession of this fact, they were just being encouraging and nice, which is what most parkrunners are.  The tail walker was also needing to walk post injury, so we just walked round chattering the whole way.  I felt I made a new friend.  Loads of my Smiley Paces running club buddies were out in force, completing the unfinished couple of miles of the London marathon my fellow marathoner wasn’t able to, by running parkrun in solidarity with her.  She’d crashed out at the 40km mark.  As I was still out there walking I missed the team photo of this gathering, but aren’t they splendid!  A loveliness of smilies indeed!

loveliness of smilies

The following Saturday, I volunteered as barcode scribe at parkrun.  I like volunteering, you see events from a different perspective, and see the whole continuum or participants as well.  In this role I had to manually write down the numbers of people whose barcodes fail to scan.  This is a fab job in that you get a double whammy of kudos being in possession of both a hi-vis AND a clipboard.  You do also get some grief from people who insist they have always been able to have their number written down from their mobile phone before.  Erm, don’t think so.  I am generally very averse to any kind of confrontation and will capitulate in almost every situation to avoid the hassle of an argument.   However, I feel strongly about this, parkrunners are grown ups, it’s one rule, it’s not much to ask you to bring along a printed barcode, and if you are a regular runner you will know this,  I’m a volunteer so nope, I’m not making an exception, especially not if you are going to get all insistent and arsey about it.  I will happily take time to explain things to newbies, congratulate them on having taken part, encourage them to come back, tell them how to work out their time and generally enthuse, but I still enforce the rule.  With a parkrun as big as Sheffield Hallam you can really appreciate it’s importance.  Of the 800 or so runners, only a handful did complain but I soon had huge queues of people needing their number written down as the scanners were playing up in bright sunshine. If you relented on the no barcode, not time, no exceptions rule, you’d spend all weekend manually writing down results and then the poor results processors would have to do likewise.  Not OK.   Beckton parkrun did a post about why the no barcode, no result, no exception rule applies, that I think is good.  parkrun have recently revamped the parkrun code by the way, so with this relaunch the few rules are once again clearly stated.

parkrun code

I still think the directive around dogs is confusing.  What are you supposed to do if you don’t have a dog?  Fortunately this policy isn’t rigorously enforced locally.  Mind you, if ever it were to be, I have a dog in mind…  Form a queue people, form a queue!

my fantasy running buddy

So then week three on from London, I did my first run.  Also at parkrun. Again, my local one was really busy, so busy, that there were actual bottle necks at several points on the course so I had to walk some sections, which was good, as it completely removed the pressure or temptation to run.  There was good news and bad news.  Amazingly, my lungs and legs generally felt fine, I don’t seem to have lost the ability to put one foot in front of another. My womb still didn’t fall out, and although I was definitely ‘steady’ I was actually a bit faster than the last parkrun I did pre marathon, which is truly bizarre.  However, the less good news is that a photo of me running gives me no room for delusion in respect of how much weight I’ve put on, wearing a t-shirt and not wearing a giraffe means my stomach has nowhere to hide.  Also, my shins are still tender.  Not absolutely terrible by any means, but enough that I think I do need to be a bit careful.  Losing weight would help, some strength and conditioning and general cross training is well overdue also.  Hmm.

So I was/ am feeling a bit directionless and clueless, I ought to be doing more, but I am scared of injury, and feeling a bit overwhelmed because it is like starting over with a new goal.  Then something popped up on Facebook that looked familiar.  A reminder about the Hathersage Hurtle.  What’s that then?  That sounded familiar, have I entered it?  I did a bit of rummaging around in my inbox (not a euphemism) and it seems I have indeed.  It’s next Saturday.  Blooming heck, I’m not even running again yet.  Oh well, I thought, it’ll probably be a nice gentle local trail race, it will be fun!  Perfect for getting back into it.  Not so, it’s twenty miles!  TWENTY MILES FFS!  And with significant elevation – well, not by Sheffield standards, but definitely by London ones, which is where my focus has been. What was I thinking? Well, actually, I know exactly what I was thinking!  I entered back in February, in the depths of winter, probably from the sanctuary of being under a duvet.  I was fondly imagining a future whereby at this point in time I’d have completed the marathon, had time to recover and be at my running peak in terms of both capability and confidence. I’d fly round.  How wonderful it would be to return to the joys of the peaks after the tyranny of the roads whilst training for London.  I never learn.  Can’t do this, it’s crazy.  I dug around for details and found it was a pricey one to enter £24 and there’s a technical tee at the end. Well, obviously that was a game changer, even with some uncertainty about the medal situation.

A bit more ferreting around, and I discovered there is actually a walk option as well as the run. Hmm, they do exactly the same route, but head out between one and two hours earlier.  I emailed the organisers to find out what the cut off time was for the runners and whether I could swap.

Oh my gawd. What a lovely email I got back.  So welcoming and reassuring.  It massively helped me to refocus:

Well done on the marathon. What an achievement. The Hurtle will be quite a different experience – better views and more cake for a start!  We’ve got quite relaxed cut offs. Final cut off for everyone is 5pm so that gives you a total of 7 hours to get round as a runner. Walkers can set off between 8 and 9am so that gives you an extra hour or two.  We don’t want you to feel under any pressure as our main aim is for people to have a great day. Let me know what you decide to do.

This is why I run!  Beautiful views, friendly runners and bonus cake!  I mean London has it’s merits, but is actually the worst trail run ever.  Views from the trails and cake, that’s what running is all about.  Yomping fest here we come!

mile 4 (6)

Suddenly, I felt relieved.  I have decided to drop back to join the walkers. My shins aren’t quite right, but I’ve so missed the gorgeous trails round and about, I miss the camaraderie of running out on the moors with my mates.  Training for London was relentless and lonely at times.  I missed running against the stunning backdrop of the moors and peaks – I had to focus instead on roads and flattish trails.  I can get back out into the peak district proper now.  With respect to my running buddies, I’m still too slow to keep up with them, but by starting earlier with the walkers I should have no pressure.  I’m hoping this will also remove the navigation issue as if I start at the back of the walkers I can follow them to start with, and then as runners start to overtake I can follow them too.  This gives me a sporting chance of seeing people I know en route, as they will speed pass me, instead of me just trailing behind them the whole way round, watching them disappear over the hills and far away before I’ve even fathomed out how to handle my dibber.   Arriving at the finish at dusk with no cake left and the Smiley paces group photo long since taken.  This could work.  I need to get over my weird psychological block about running again, and I think a long, beautiful walk with heaving feed stations, friendly marshals and a technical tee at the end is just the job!  What’s wrong with hope over experience dear reader?  The alternative is I’d never do anything ever again.  The heather might not be out just yet, but it’s still going to be awesome!

I think the route also covers a lot of the same terrain as the Dig Deep Ultra which is my next big goal, so good to have a bit of a recce of sections of that too.  What could possibly…

hathersage hurtle

So in terms of my experience of the post-marathon blues – which I think is what this post is sort of about, and it’s not just a rambling stream of consciousness, directionless nonsense at all – I think it’s attributable partly to a lack of direction and partly a sense of anti-climax.  Plus, anyone’s body would take a pounding, let alone my post fifty offering, so it’s not surprising I’m maybe feeling a bit battered. And I do need to somehow get my life back on track, but it was always thus, it’s just the goal of getting round London legitimised my procrastination for a few months, but it didn’t make any problems go away, how could it?

To end with positives I think I offer up two:

Positive number one: the absolutely best bit about running events in general (the ones I pick anyway) and the London marathon in particular is that supporters, random strangers who don’t even know you, when they cheer you on, are genuinely offering up unconditional, positive regard.  Usually you have to pay counsellors or psychologists or whatever  an absolute fortune at an hourly rate to give you that. And even then it will probably be given somewhat dead pan and po faced, they don’t generally wave golden pom poms at you and leap in the air in appreciation of your efforts.   In running, people will cheer you euphorically not based on your potential achievement, or any personal characteristics, or even innate worthiness – they can’t they have no idea who you are, so they are cheering you unconditionally just because you are out there giving it a go!  There is no other context in life I can think of where you get that.  This is why junior parkrun is also especially joyful.  It’s a celebration of the best in people, a temporary vision of utopia that demonstrates life is just so much better if we are kind to each other and buoy each other up rather than bring each other down.  A reminder there are more good people in the world than not, and there is not just room for diversity and laughter in the world, but also life is so much the better for it. Simple.  Cheering on others without cynicism, and unconditionally not only brings joys to others, but will leave you giddy with feelgood joy yourself.  Promise.

The second big positive: there is life after the marathon.  Just pick another goal, anything, but better if it’s one that taps into whatever it is that makes running fun.  I feel so much more upbeat now I can head out again into the hills. When I first started this running blog, such as it is, it was partly to recognise that whilst I have many and manifest limitations that might get in the way of me ever becoming a ‘proper’ runner, there was nothing to stop me enjoying doing it badly, and even celebrating that.  The whole parkrun philosophy, of just participating in my own way, not worrying too much about other people’s goals or expectations.  And you know what, that philosophy has allowed me to meet some amazing people, discover some extraordinary places, take on some unimaginable challenges and who’d have believed it, somehow progressed from having to breathe into a paper bag to calm myself before daring to turn up at my first parkrun, to completing the London marathon!  Strange, but true.

If my old PE teacher could see me know eh?  Hah!

It’s not finishing a marathon that is the hardest thing, it’s having the courage to sign up for it in the first place.  Honestly, with many of the challenges I’ve taken on I haven’t absolutely believed I could do them, but I have most fervently believed there is only one way to find out.  After all, how will I ever know my limits if I don’t test them.

she believed she could

Also, yomping the hills is fun. Whatever challenge appeals, for what it’s worth, I think it’s important to remember that for me at least, running is supposed to be fun.  How does the saying go?

Run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running.

Easy as.

You’re welcome.

Now go find your trainers, or if you can’t run just now, go look at a favourite bit of running bling or a photo of your favourite running location and imagine yourself out there doing a virtual run.  This is what I’m going to try to do.  Saturday’s Hathersage Hurtle might be a walk rather than a run, but it’s still a step on the way to getting back on track literally as well as metaphorically, because ultimately that’s all a run is, one foot in front of another.  And increasingly the accepted wisdom is long walks can be a helpful part of a running fitness programme too.  That gets my vote.

So see you out on them there hills.

🙂

nice out

Categories: motivation, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seems I’m not as nesh as I thought – Sheffield Hallam parkrun in the snow.

Digested read: amazingly, Sheffield Hallam parkrun went ahead despite the snow. Even more amazingly, despite being a nesh southerner, I went ahead and ran it too. It was fun. Do wish I’d remembered to change into a sports bra though.

Of course anyone that takes part in a parkrun anywhere is a winner, but we all know that parkrun/walk/ joggers and hi-viz heroes that head out in rain, ice and snow are extra hardcore and even more worthy of celebration. Even so, it did seem apt that at today’s Sheffield Hallam parkrun, the first finisher was a certain Mr Frost.  No really, it was!  Isn’t that splendid?  Even if he did possibly have a slight competitive advantage given the ice and snow based elements of the course it matters not.  It pleases me and amuses me in equal measure. Here he is in action – impressive eh?  The volunteers got a bit chilly standing around as you can see.  Their hi-viz tabards didn’t make it down this week, which is why they are just in mufti in this illustration.

jack frost running

Here he is again, pretending he’s not going to be first finisher and proceeding with stealth at this stage.  Those Dark Peak Runner in their vintage homage kit are super impressive, they defy nature as they sprint across the fells, parkrun is less their natural habitat, they tend to be more creatures of the rocks and heather.  We were lucky to see one in action in the park.  Awesome.  Kudos to you Mr Frost.  Much kudos.

GC jack frost stealth finish

Not everyone was amused though. Queen Victoria looked most unimpressed, but then again, she’s been out in inclement weather since first being sited on this spot in – well, whenever that was – 1887 most probably, looking at the history of Endcliffe Park, and to think people nowadays take to twitter after but a few hours stuck on a snow bound train or motorway.  What a nesh lot we all are!

 

The hi-viz tabards were snowed in, all nicely laundered and no doubt smelling of lavender fabric softener in a Sheffield home. Somewhere nice and warm, but surrounded by snow drifts this high:

sheffield landscape

Fair point.  Conditions have been somewhat at the extreme end of the is it wise to run in a snow globe continuum.  An adventure in the snow is all very well and good, but sometimes a reality check is in order too.

So where was I, oh yes, Sheffield Hallam parkrun, in the snow.  Here in Sheffield, like everywhere else, we’ve had a fair old dumping of snow. The novelty of this has most definitely worn off.  I’m scared venturing out of my house even as I live on a steep hill, and loads of events have been cancelled in the last week.  I was supposed to be doing a Dark and White 10 miler in Bakewell on Sunday, but to be honest, I was relieved more than anything when that got cancelled. No idea how I’d have got there, and even if I had, as a slow runner, I’d have been hypothermic by the half way point. Good call race organiser people.  As for parkruns? Well, we are pretty spoilt in Sheffield, with a fair few in the vicinity to choose from, however, these were soon dropping like flies. Why do we say dropping like flies I wonder. … ok, I’ve just googled this so you don’t have to, and am told ‘The origin of this phrase isn’t known. It is clearly a simple allusion to the transitory and fragile nature of an insect’s life. It is known from around the turn of the 20th century. The earliest printed version I have found is in The Atlanta Constitution newspaper, May 1902‘, so there we all are, none the wiser.  Some Sheffield parkruns called early, Bakewell fell, Sheffield Castle fell, Rother Valley fell, Graves parkrun too, even Hillsborough parkrun made a sorrowful and unusual cancellation late on Saturday morning.  Concord parkrun and Sheffield Hallam though declared it to be game on!

Still quite a white out in Endcliffe park though … those venturing out would need to go prepared.

 

Whoa, that I was not expecting.  I was so not expecting this, that I was all kitted out in my walking gear, as I’d decided I’d do a slow, snow plod and get my 10 miles in that way.  At the last-minute though, they announced the course to be snow-covered but runnable, as long as you weren’t in search of a pb (I’ve not seen one of those in years, so no worries on my part with regard to that).  If they were going to go to all that effort of putting it on, it would seem rude not to, so I did a lightening (for me) change into running shoes and headed off.  I say ‘lightening change’ but it’s nigh on impossible to do anything in lightening speed when you are wearing as many layers as I was.  I could hardly move.  Don’t know why I’m so scared of falling over, I was so wrapped up it’s like wearing a complete protective fat suit, having said that, the real worry would be if I do fall down, how on earth would I get up again, what with having no limbs capable of reaching the ground raised up as I would be from layers of clothing.

stuck on back

So it was I stepped gingerly out of the house, and made my way to Endcliffe Park.  It takes ages trying to get anywhere in the snow, it’s ankle-deep in places.  However, mercifully, fresh snow having covered the ice, it wasn’t nearly as slippery as it has been in the last couple of days.  The roads were quite, and I didn’t see many people until I got right to the park gates. Then I espied a ladybird, honestly, they are decorative and cheery and everything, but I feel they have practically reached plague proportions in these parts lately.  She was sprinting on ahead, with her significant other – well I presume it was her significant other, does that make him a ladyboy?  I’m hoping it wasnt  some random guy she’d accosted just because he happened to have the misfortune to be wearing a red top and therefore was deemed ripe for the picking in terms of conscription into the ladybird/ ladyboy cult fold.  I went to join them in a little jog. Aaaargh. Rookie error.  In my expectation of doing a walk this morning I remembered belatedly that I was wearing a non-sports bra!  Disaster, this was very bad.  I watched them disappear off, whilst I debated what to do.  Hanging on to my assets as best I could.  On the plus side, I suppose this prooves my sports bra has been more supportive than I appreciated, I’ve been thinking for a while now it’s a bit rubbish on longer runs…

ladybird and significant other sprinting ahead

I recalled Regal Smiley sharing a tale of how she dealt with just such an eventuality by donning two bras instead. All well and good, but where was I going to source one at this late stage?  I shared my dilemma, and in true Smiley Spirit, the ladybird’s significant other immediately offered me the loan of his, but I didn’t feel able to accept, it wouldn’t be fair to simple transfer the problem to someone else, tempting as the thought was.  I’d just have to do the run of shame hanging onto my assets as best I could.  It’s been done before, it wouldn’t be a first, and maybe that would count as weight training?  A boon to my otherwise lamentable marathon training routine for this week, I’m sure upper body strength will be an asset in seven week’s time.

Still, late as I was, there wasn’t time for any alternative trouble shooting.  Rather I just joined the cheery throng.

 

 

I was only just in time for the start, we were a much reduced line-up, but an upbeat one.  Our official photographer was also in place, so that was good.  Whilst it is true that running is naturally its own reward, it’s fantastic to have unusual events like this one documented for posterity.  Unfortunately, because I’m not a very good photographer, and have failed to include any runners in this portrait of our esteemed photographer, I’ve made him look like either a stalker or a flasher in his big coat, which is a shame, he deserves better.  Oh well, too late now.

official photographer

This is what he was facing.  Brave man our George, staring this lot in the eye week after week.  Respect.  Mind you, I still think junior parkrunners are even more unpredictable, you’ve never stood in the line of fire unless you’ve braved the start line of Graves junior on a Sunday morning.

 

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The hardcore volunteers were all assembled, one had even brought their own high viz – very proactive.  Bravo.  Great signage holding technique there.  If you have never held a sign aloft for the whole duration of a parkrun yourself, you can’t fully appreciate what a test of endurance it is to do so successfully.  Hi-viz hero, I thank you.

After a quick briefing we were off.  Amazingly, it really wasn’t too bad running on compacted snow.  I was glad of my trail shoes, but it was fine.  I’ve had way scarier runs at Sheffield Hallam parkrun on days there have been patches of ice.  Because of the much smaller turn out, it was also a much smaller field, and that created some serious novelty.  Usually I end up in quite a crowd, this time I was running on my own for some sections, to the extent that it felt that I was leading the throng at times (yes, fantasy I know),  but really and truly, if the camera never lies, and you didn’t know any better, you might think I was leading the pack, and not just left behind after everyone else had long lapped me, wouldn’t you? How else can you account for my apparent good cheer whilst running?  Exactly.

GC finally first finisher at parkrun

Plus, in other good news, as it was less crowded you could take your time and high-five marshals of your choice on the way round without fear of causing a pile up behind you.  My apprenticeship as a marshal at Graves junior parkrun has given me not only an appreciation of the art of cheering, clapping and high-fiving others, but some not inconsiderable skill at this too.  If you don’t believe me, let me tell you that only this week I was an extra on a drama series which required me to clap and cheer in a town hall audience and I was particularly singled out and complimented on set by the assistant director for my excellent cheering and clapping techniques.  No really I was! I’m not even bragging, just stating a fact.  I must update my LinkedIn profile to reflect this.  Potential recruiters will want to know.

So I plodded round. The first lap was really hard, my calves are so tight.  But the second lap was lovely, meditative and quiet.  Maybe I’m not as nesh as I think, I was fine running on compacted snow, but other routes I’ve done lately I’ve found myself sliding everywhere.   One weird thing though, I’ve not done that much running on snow, and it made my vision go a bit weird, like there was an anomaly developing in my peripheral vision, like when you look through a lens and it distorts the image. Really strange.  Is that snow blindness, or an early warning of a build up to a heart attack?  Not sure, no conclusive evidence either way as yet.  I did crack on for a boob-clutching sprint finish though.  Had to be done!  I think that the photo editing process has spared the world a picture of me running clutching my assets.  Be thankful.

GC not the boob clutching shot

This is what it looks like as you are coming in to the finish funnel, unless you are one of the front finishers, I guess for them it’s a pretty empty skyline…

 

I was not quite last in, but still got the lowest ever finish token number for me at Hallam parkrun, alongside my personal worst.  So that was good.  I resisted the temptation of keeping my finish token as souvenir, in favour of having my run recorded and so securing 1/250th of a milestone t-shirt.  It’s getting closer, albeit not quite within my reach for a good couple of years yet!  154 down, 96 left to go…

You know what, once I’d got over the fear factor, running on the compacted snow was a lot of fun.  Other people seemed to be having a lot of fun too.  Look at all these smiley faces out there making the most of it. What great parkrunners we all are.  I’m not sure the shorts would have been my kit of choice, but you know how it is?  That’s right people, respect the right of everyone to participate in parkrun in their own way.

 

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In other news, some parkrunners espied the kingfisher which hangs on in Endcliffe park.  Personally, I missed it, but I think this might be he.  Photo taken today and posted on the Friends of Porter Valley Facebook page.  That’s good enough credentials for me…

kingfisher

Once I’d finished, just the little matter of finding a barcode scanner, harder to spot without the high vis – and then some Smiley bonding.  Also, some comparison of running footwear. Yaktrax versus nano spikes etc.  I really need to get something.  Yaktrax seem recommended, but I’m confused about the different types. The ‘pro’ ones with the velcro were most popular this morning.  The nanospikes are fantastic if really icy, but hard on the feet giving them a tenderising pummeling if the surface doesn’t require them.  I’m not sure I’m any closer to a decision about which to get, but I did enjoy making runners contort into uncomfortable balance poses under the pretext of checking out their shoe treads. Sometimes you just have to make your own entertainment, and often you’ll get away with doing this at the expense of others if you look needy enough and can think of some potential plausible albeit spurious excuse, as the photos show.

A few of us Dragonflies had made it out so in the interests of bagging Smiletastic points, we naturally had to secure a photo of ourselves together.  Posing first:

 

 

We had to enlist the help of a few non-dragonflies to get the synchronised Nazcanesque line in the snow dragonfly shape, so it may be disallowed under the rules of our Smiley Paces winter running Smiletastic challenge, but you have to admit it is a splendid effort.  We waved off our Smiley compatriot who’d obliged us by taking our team shot.  Possibly she was never to be seen again – it was looking pretty gloomy out there, but hey ho, she’d had a nice smiley morning so fond memories eh?

bye bye smiley

Ladybirds and ladyboys were also flying away home after a lovely run.  Well done all!

 

We then did the obligatory selfie. Obviously we were quite worried about the potential for double chins with this as taking group selfies is really hard, but we were saved by both our intrinsic loveliness (my team buddies) and the fortuitous placing of a smiley buff (me) so that was grand too.

obligatory selfie

Job done.  Just remained to get breakfast.  Only two of us, but we headed to Pom Kitchen, their vegan breakfast board is epic.  Just what is needed to provide fortification before the long uphill trudge home through the snow.  Some merriment en route was provided by watching a 4×4 sliding ever backwards as it attempted to navigate uphill. There was some injustice in this, in that the driver had been doing just fine maintaining a constant speed, but the trouble started when they stopped to give way to some elderly pedestrians. I’m sure there is a moral in there somewhere.  Something along the lines of no good deed goes unpunished.  Not the truth we want to believe in, but perhaps a truth all the same…

So, just to summarise.  Running in the snow was officially fun.  So too is sledging.  I really hope I’m still game to hit the slopes if I make it to 86!

never too old to sledge

🙂

By the way, official parkrun advice for those of you not blessed with an operational parkrun today, is to recreate your own by following these simple instructions:

‘for those that can’t attend due to bad weather – pop up parkrun in your living room. 278 laps of a standard size living room = one 5k parkrun.’

Good to know.  Looking out for each other, that’s the parkrun way.  No parkrunner wants to miss out on their weekly fix!  The parkrun cancellation map  for today suggests a fair few would have had to improvise.  That is a lot of living rooms being run around in a frenzy of parkrun re-enactment behind a closed door near you. Worth thinking about.

parkrun cancellations

Wonder what next week has in store?  Bring it on eh?  Bring.  It.  On.  We’ll be up and at it whatever the weather.  You can’t stop us now, because we’re having a good time.

penguin run

gotta love penguins running

seriously though, dont stop us now,

So don’t stop me now don’t stop me
‘Cause I’m having a good time having a good time
I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go go go
There’s no stopping me

At the very least, I’m like a parkrunner yomping through the park, and I wont be stopping until I’ve found a table for post parkrun brunch.   That’s non negotiable.  Some traditions should never be broken.

So I leave you with action shots of Sheffield Hallam parkrunners running down parkrun in the snow.

 

Thanks George Carman for the photos – your logo hasn’t appeared on the photos this week for some reason, but the glory and acknowledgement goes to you all the same.  Ready or not!

Oh and here is regal smiley of the ‘No sports bra? No problem‘ running trouble shooting consultancy.  No idea how many bras she’s wearing here, or of what type, but she looks happy out there which is the most important thing.  And she’s not having to run clutching her boobs or anything, so she’s clearly doing something right.  Bravo.

GC bra consultant in action

Yeah, it was fun out there. Type one and Type two.  Result!

For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.

 

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new parkrun double for me… and I’m feeling good! (ish)*

Digested read: we’ve had an icy twixmas parkrun, then new year day double. Hurrah.  Best way to start the year. Shame some people have picked up a mysterious 24 hour bug, but hey ho, job done. Go us!  Happy New Year everyone.  Also, let Smiletastic commence. Isn’t parkrun grand?  Love parkrun.  🙂

*Strictly speaking, I was feeling a bit rough.  But that messes with both the scanning and the opportunity to link to a fine Nina Simone power ballad, so forgive the artistic licence with my edit.  Gotta love Nina

5898bc4adc8ba198a0161811b70f8639--nina-simone-best-songs

Is it true you are supposed to start the New Year as you mean to go on?  If so, I don’t know whether I have passed or failed in that respect.  I did make it to a parkrun, twice in fact (yay) but I also felt distinctly queasy, sleep deprived and as a consequence loped round the two different courses lard-arsed, and with little vestige of either personal propulsion or personal dignity.  On the plus side, awesome crowd, parkrun buddies old and new, with added Smiletastic Dragonfly vigour for good measure.  Maybe a case of good in parts.

Last time I posted about parkrun it was to reveal all about my ill-judged,  type 2 fun run out with Sophie at Concord on Christmas Day.  By mutual consent, this romp round marked both the beginning and end of our running partnership.  It’s OK, because she has decided she want’s to focus on her skiing – she thinks the photo ops with a backdrop of snow will be more flattering, and likewise I think I’ll have more flattering running photos too, without wrestling with a unicorn the whole way round.  Running with dignity – that would be a great way to start the new year would it not.

It sure as heck wasn’t how I ended it though.  Since Christmas,we’ve had our ‘twixmas run at Sheffield Hallam.  That was something of an experience.  Other parkruns local to Sheffield fell like flies, cancelled due to ice and slidy paths. Hallam gamely decided to brave it, but you know that it’s not going to be a PB run when you see the run director heading out with a shovel at the start don’t you?  I promise you, he wasn’t just heading out for a wild-camping inspired dump.  I know this, because I saw him ice breaking on Rustlings Road,  above and beyond my friend.  Respect to you.

man with shovel

It was something of a slide about,though those in the front of the line up seemed as fearless as ever…

how it started

but I like to think the mud snorkeling and iced pavements added a certain frissance to the occasion.  We had our very own arctic enemas and mud crawls. Who needs tough mudder anyway?

Personally, I didn’t mind at all having to take it really slowly, but maybe with hindsight I’d have bottled it.  You know it’s bad when dogs are being carried round rather than chased after by breathless runners.  Unless our resident photographer inadvertently snapped a 101 Dalmatians inspired dog-knapper at the very moment of the dogduction, must check Sheffield animals lost and found to clarify.

precious cargo

Weirdly, it’s the rise in temperature that made the compressed ice especially treacherous, not so much slush, as a perfect skidway with meltwater pooling on top of the ice. Still, all’s well that ends well.  They counted everyone in, and they counted everyone back, sighs of relief all round. What was not so grand, was discovering that apparently it isn’t running with a unicorn that makes me appear undignified in my gait.  It is the actual act of ‘running’.  The camera never lies, although it does have a very dry sense of humour it seems…

I have to accept I’m not a natural at this.  I don’t know why I keep on going really.  Hope over experience perhaps, or maybe the prospect of post-parkrun brunch?  Probably brunch.

Still, love parkrun. The more parkruns the better.  Hence, given that, as parkrun aficionados all over the world know:

New Year’s Day is the one day of the year where it is possible to walk, jog, run or volunteer at two parkruns on the same day! What better way to start 2018

I remain conscientious about the concept and commitment to parkrun if not always keen on the actual running component of the enterprise.  New Year’s Day promised the possibility of a parkrun double, and as a parkrun partaker, that was too good a chance to miss.  I couldn’t get to parkrun last year, but achieved the parkrun double the year before going to Nostell Priory and Pontefract parkruns and that was fab.  This year, a host of us were planning to go, but inevitably it got a bit complicated, there were those with injuries or hosting obligations on New Year’s Eve that might prove incompatible with undertaking a parkrun shuffle. Then, an added consideration for me at least, was feeling torn between my conflicting desires on the one hand to be constant to my regular parkrun partners and brunching buddies or on the other to take flight and throw my lot in with my new Smiletastic compatriots in our newly formed Dragonfly team. Dropping my longstanding, loyal and unswerving running companions as my head was turned by short-lived glory that might be achieved through association with such swarming irridescent beauties.  Tough call.  Seductive, aren’t they?  You’ve got to admit you’d have your head turned too, surely… and I’m way more suggestible and shallow than you probably are with your principles, stoicism, and fine running technique. Plus, well, it’s Smiletastic, that’s an annual game changer.  All previous alliances, allegiances and agreements are off.  It’s another new dawn, you exist for your team and they for you.  One for all and all for one, and everyone for post run coffee and cake (other foods and beverages are available).

For those of you not in the know, firstly, where have you been?  Secondly, in brief, Smiletastic is an annual team challenge for members of the Smiley Paces.  I did it a couple of years ago, and participation in that helped me to put in the necessary training which got me round the Sheffield Half, in a fashion.  It also was fairly traumatic, it’s a big responsibility pledging runs and knowing if you fail to deliver, you will bring your team down with you!  STRESS!  As with all running related stresses, after the event, trauma morphs almost seamlessly into nostalgia.  That was sooooooooooo fun and not at all pressurised and stress inducing!  No wonder we all worship Smiley Elder for bringing Smiletastic into being.  After a year off when I was in Cambodia, this year when Smiletastic came round it was Bring. It. On!

Better yet. I was in team dragonfly.  Hurrah.  Great, we would be mutually supportive we quickly agreed. This would be fun and about team motivation, and we wouldn’t let it get stressful and none of us were going to be competitive about it.  … mind you, doesn’t hurt to get in the mood, maybe we could pitch for some fun ‘getting in the Smiletastic spirit’ team points early on using the old tea-cosy on the head ruse, that might work?  Failing that the dragonfly trail find has to be a win right?  Loving your work fell flying smiley.

Then there is always the fancy dress dimension to be considered, but no spoilers regarding that today.  Patience dear reader, patience, that time will come…

The Smiletastic rules pronounced that individual points would be available to those who rock up at parkrun. Hurrah. That’s me in, twice, it being a New Year’s Day double there for the taking. Then, we see that if we can get more than 50% of our 13 strong team along to a timed run (such as parkrun) then there are more points to be had.  Well.  I mean, no pressure, but ‘just out of interest, who’s thinking of rocking up on New Year’s Day’.  Our Facebook exchanges were hilarious.  Artistry of expression, as we all tried soooooooooooo very hard to be mutually respectful of each others circumstances and decisions whilst desperately, desperately trying not to reveal that every one of us was furtively counting up the takers to date on our fingers to see if it might be doable.   Such was the swell of enthusiasm for the endeavour some of the ‘sorry, but categorically can’t make it‘ dragonflies were soon flitting back with a ‘but I have terrible fear of missing out, so maybe…‘. Anyway, dear reader, the upshot was, come New Year’s Day, we were all on the cusp of witnessing a miracle akin to that of dragonfly larvae emerging en masse from a pond and revealing their wings, were we to witness a similar magnificent display of dragonflies altogether for the New Year’s Day parkrun Double?

YES!

WE WERE!

It nearly didn’t happen though. I was out on new year’s eve, by no means a given for me.  My body is generally speaking a temple, albeit one for people who worship somewhat spherically inclined deities that have recently been dragged backwards through a hedge.  Even so, I can tell within a microgram when I have reached capacity for alcohol and need to cease drinking and withdraw from social situations.  On reaching this point about 11.30, I was ready to sneak away from the festivities but was caught in the act, persuaded to stay on, toast in the new year, less sleep, more alcohol, face-plant into a trifle (that was well worth staying up for) and to see the new year in with a ferocious display of fireworks.  When one went off a bit too close for comfort I learned about myself that in adversity I will try to save myself before others.  Oh dear.  I may be a horrible human being, but at least I am self-aware…  Anyway, it was a lovely new year’s eve celebration with fine hosts and fabulous folk all around, but it was not compatible with idealised double parkrun preparations.  I knew I’d be dehydrated, so drank loads before I went to bed, and then had to get up loads in the night so I wondered why I’d bothered to go to bed at all.

Sleep deprived, managing somehow to sport simultaneously an uncomfortably full bladder and a raging thirst, I staggered down to the rendezvous point where a group of us had pledged to meet and go together to the first parkrun of the day.  As I dragged my weary carcass down the empty streets, I saw a couple of people, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, cheerily jogging along. ‘What are they doing, are they crazy?’ I thought, a bit too loudly for comfort – where did that headache come from, who is it who’s shouting?  Before it occurred to me that in a way I was about to do the same, but with considerably less bounce, well boob bounce possibly, but spiritual bounce not so much.  It is an interesting (to me anyway, you can be bored if you like) concept, that parkrun has become so much a habit, that I actually no longer associate it with running at all.  It is just that when parkrunday comes around, I go and do it.  No thinking, no negotiation, it is just a case of ‘make it so’.  This is the great glory of parkrun  – and indeed Smiletastic, on days when I wouldn’t normally entertain the idea of running anywhere or for any distance at all I find I’m almost doing so by accident.  It is a wonderful thing.  Shame that I’d obviously eaten something that disagreed with me yesterday, no other explanation for my constantly shifting consciousness. Thank goodness I wasn’t doing the driving!

Astonishingly, four of us did make the rendezvous as planned!  We piled into the car, and off we went to Graves.  We expected to find the place heaving, but it seems on New Year’s Day parkrunners work on just-in-time principles.  Apart from the core team of hi-viz heroes who were out setting up the course whilst revelers from the night before were probably still making their way home.  Kudos to you guys, your efforts were and are appreciated.  🙂  (Nothing like an emoticon to make someone feel valued apparently, so that’s good).

NYD graves team

We sorted parking, and then some opted to sit in the car, I went in search of a loo.  Disaster, they were shut.  It would probably be unseemly to report that there was a fair exodus of wandering runners who all seemingly had dropped something in the bushes just before the run, and that something was possibly their pants.  Don’t know why, desperate times call for desperate measures though.

Soon, there was quite a gang assembled.  I found that, much like when I tried to save myself when the rogue firework went off, I was quite happy to ditch my loyal parkrunning buddies and lift providers at the first sniff of a dragonfly.  Found one, found more.  Then there was frenetic counting, would we make the 50% requirement.  … not that we cared, because it was all fun, but ooooh, so teasingly close.  We half-heartedly greeted others whilst distracted by our search for insect companions.  We achieved one selfie, of the dragonfly team, only one of the people within it isn’t, no matter, we can always photoshop on the missing fellow dragonflies later on, so that’s fine.

graves parkrun dragonflies

Then there was a call to gather and the Run Director’s briefing.

graves RD song line briefing

Impressively, the poet laureate for Graves had composed something for just this occasion.  You really should read the Graves parkrun report of the morning, because it contains not only pictures AND the note that this was a record-breaking start to the year with an attendance of 374 parkrun/jog/walkers AND an original poem to mark the occasion of the New Year but also the fabulous statistical insight that ‘of those taking part at Graves this morning, 131 then headed to Poolsbrook and a further 50 to Hillsborough’.  Hurrah, I do like a good parkrun stat.  I wonder how they number crunched that one.

These were pleasures yet to come.  I just know that when the shout went off to start, we went off.  It was a bit of a slow shuffle to be fair, a fact for which I was enormously grateful.  I pootled round.  Graves parkrun is actually my favourite of the Sheffield courses, because of the varied terrain, the scenic nature, the farm animals, but today it was a slog. Who lengthened the hill?  Even so, there were some – indeed many – highlights en route.  Specifically:

  • WAtching regal smiley pause to take a photo of the donkey on lap one and a goat on lap two, because if it isn’t instagrammed it never happened, apparently. That’s what she said, I still think she was angling for a lift from the donkey when I rumbled her, but I suppose we’ll never know now.
  • Spotting some fabulous junior parkrunners who instead of running were donned in over-sized hi-viz with matching over-sized smiles and proffering a succession of high fives. That was my favourite bit
  • REalising at some point that we had made the count re dragonflies
  • Seeing so many great people out and about, parkrun is a huge community of joy, because the double parkrun options locally are a bit limited, it seemed everyone had congregated at Graves today.  ’twas truly a wondrous sight to behold.
  • Finishing, without actually asphyxiating on the way round
  • Realising, once again, that you always have a parkrun within you somewhere, even if in your heart you’d rather be under the duvet still

On completion, people vanished pretty rapidly. Some speedy runners were aiming to do their double at 10.00 a.m. at Hillsborough – ambitious!  They had an express checkout for barcode scanning. No really, they did!  We more leisurely doublers, were headed to Poolsbrook.

Thank you fine people of Graves parkrun for your hospitality, your poetry and your fine organisation and winning smiles and ways as always.

Farewells were said, and off we went again. Not exactly in convoy. As in, not in convoy at all, it was a bit of a rural magical mystery tour to get to Poolsbrook parkrun I was just passively parasitic, I left it to other with GPS and initiative to get us there.  I only pitched in when I saw the sign for the country park, which I concede was probably a bit of a case of ‘too little too late‘ not sure they’ll buy ‘it’s the thought that counts’.

As we neared the entrance, I realised for the first time that Pools Brook is actually two words not one. Didn’t notice that when I was last here for the inaugural Poolsbrook parkrun (which was good actually, though now I understand new events try to discourage people from attending inaugurals so they have a chance to bed in first. Good point, well made.  Respect that people.)

pools brook country park

The place was heaving, and cars were being turned back from the park, so we ducked into a sort of industrial park alongside where there was space to park on the side roads.  It was freezing, and we were still quite early.  We sat for a bit, until i saw a carload of dragonflies rock up, and that, and my need for a precautionary pee, were enough for me to head up to the start.  As at Graves parkrun, the core team had been hard at work early on to make the magic happen at 10.30.  Thanks everyone 🙂  (See what I did again there with that smiley emoticon – they’ll be beside themselves with thrilledness!).

There were lots more new and familiar faces.  An enormous queue for the loos, and – a considerable boon – a sort of cafe area where an urn and biscuits was set up for post-run refreshments in return for donations. Also, a working radiator and a store cupboard where you could leave your bags. All extremely well organised, although I was slightly worried that the drop in temperature as we entered the store-room was indicative of entering some one-way anomaly into a strange, sub-zero parallel universe, but I made it out OK.  After a bit, it was announced the run start would be delayed by about 15 minutes, presumably to accommodate people who were having to park up further away and walk in.  Never ones to waste an opportunity, we put some serious work into getting into the dragonfly team spirit.  I think we did ok.  See how we’ve near enough perfected those double wings there.  I know, impressive!  I’ve only just realised that one of our number somehow lost a hand in the melee.  It was so cold I don’t think she noticed, as she never mentioned it at the time. Oh well, it was all for a good cause.

poolsbrook dragonfly

Eventually we had to venture outside, and I remembered a bit belatedly the start was slightly further away from the finish so we needed to allow time to get there. Still, plenty of time for another group dragonfly shot. We are getting better at this.   Still a learning curve, but we’ll get there…

poolsbrook dragonflies

A quick trot down to the start. Brrrrr.  Best and only option was to dive into the midst of the throng and, penguin-like, hope to benefit from the heat of huddling up with others. It’s lucky that all parkrunners are lovely and mostly accepting of such behaviours.

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We were a fair old gang!  A record Poolsbrook parkrun turnout, they put a Facebook post up declaring ‘WOW! A massive new attendance record with 473 finishers!! Last year we ‘only’ had 289!’  It felt big!  I couldn’t hear much of the briefing, but got the general idea. Milestones, thank the volunteers.  Three laps, counting to three is harder than you think by the way. They do put up kilometer markers, but that’s only helpful once you get the hang of them, to begin with they felt a bit random as I slowly registered I can’t possibly have done 4km already, I’m still on my first lap etc.  We were quite a sight though, storming round, and round, and round again…

GP poolsbrook parkrun dash

Hard to imagine, but I think I was even slower for this than at Graves, it was flat but quite congested, and frankly I just wanted it to end. It was a jolly crowd on the whole.  I did regret not hearing the end of the conversation between two runners where one said ‘so basically the kids row deteriorated into an international incident‘ and the other said ‘what did you do?’ and the first said ‘left them to it.’  I have a feeling that wasn’t the expected response.  I think it probably didn’t end there….  The marshals were all unfailingly lovely, I did try to splutter out thanks to each and everyone. I’ve since though read about another parkrunner at a different run (can’t remember where though, and it might have been on Christmas day now I come to think of it) who ran the whole parkrun with a box of chocolates, which he handed out to each and every marshal on the way round. That’s impressive!  Maybe next year, if I’m not having to use my hands to keep my unicorn under control.   I wasn’t so cheery about my proximity to the pimped up buggy that blared tinny tunes out throughout.  Kylie should be so lucky indeed, I didn’t feel it myself.  I gritted my teeth, reminding myself of the need to respect everyone’s right to participate in their own way, whilst lamenting my inability to outrun this assault on my senses…

Round and round the lake I ran.  It was quite social, or potentially so, my ability to run and talk was pretty much eroded.  I was relieved when I knew I could finally take the right hand path up the finish funnel.  Yay!  It wasn’t quite as empty as this as I approached it, but it was just as much a vision of loveliness as this early morning photo suggests!

poolsbrook finish

A bit of a queue for scanning, but that was fine, as an opportunity to mill and mingle. Then into the coffee area where a donation secured coffee and a choice of biscuits or mince pies.  Loads on offer, very impressive.  I wasn’t sure if dragonflies eat, so I checked.  Not only are the nymphs impressive predators within a pond (I knew that already) but so are the adults.  Veracious carnivores they will happily eat other winged insects according to the British Dragonfly Society.  This meant we could still tap our inner dragonflies and eat with a clear conscience, but we’d have to make some adjustment in dietary expectations to take account of veganuary, obviously.  That’s OK, we weren’t real dragonflies, only channeling them.  In case you weren’t sure….  By the way, veganuary seems particularly high profile this year – even got an article about going vegan for runners in Runners World this week.  It’s increasingly becoming ‘a thing’.

Refreshments quaffed, we were homeward bound. Some had ambitious plans for further activity.  Personally I favoured a power nap – once I’d safely submitted my ‘tell Sue’ Smiletastic forms and could sleep easy in my bed.  Well, had to be done…

Poolsbrook parkrun not only delivered up a fine event and coped with the unexpected influx of tourists from near and far, they also wrote an event report with fine pictures and stats. Read it here and be amazed, Poolsbrook parkrun news – records smashed!.  Thank you fine people of Poolsbrook, both for the warmth of your welcome and polish of your logistics.

Just for the record, there were a fair few parkrun people on the move this morning.  I have no idea how, but someone, somewhere, created this fabulous offering showing parkrunners migration paths across East Derbyshire on New Year’s Day.  I know!  You didn’t know you’d be interested in a pictorial representation of statistical information, but suddenly you are.  It’s a splendid thing.  Now if only someone could do that for South Yorkshire as well, just imagine the joy they would bring…

east midlands parkrun double migrations

Also, according to the parkrun UK Facebook page:

18,393 parkrunners completed a New Year’s Day double by walking, jogging or running around two UK parkrun events on 1 January 2018…

That’s 33% of all those who completed a UK parkrun on the day!

At what point do we become an official movement I wonder.  I mean movement is integral to the initiative is it not, maybe we are already?

I think in the circumstances, the final word should go to our founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who did us a 2017 review which you can read here.  But you know what, he also sent my mum a Christmas card to acknowledge her sterling support of Bushy parkrunners week in week out, and that’s even more exciting.  To be fair, it was another parkrunner who set that particular train in motion, but to a fine end.  Love parkrun, not just because of Mr S-H, but all the other lovely parkrunners who sent personal messages with their own parkrun stories!  Thank you all.

So that’s it.  New year’s day double done.  Thank you everyone, everywhere, who helped make it so!

Including my mum, that’s Elisabeth with an ‘s’ by the way – who was out cheering at Bushy parkrun on New Year’s Day too!

mum new years day

Phew.

Happy parkrunning into 2018.  It will bring new runs, and new adventures aplenty I’m sure.  Hurrah!  Go us. Just #dfyb.

Happy new Year y’all!

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who says parkrun’s a turkey? Sheffield Hallam parkrun pre-christmas dash, in all it’s glory.

Digested read: twas the parkrun before Christmas, and at Sheffield Hallam parkrun the first finisher was most definitely a turkey of a runner.  I tried to inculcate the joy of parkrun into an Australian visitor, it didnt work.  Oh well, we have to respect the right of everyone to participate (or not) in parkrun in their own way.  Ho ho ho everyone.  My those turkeys can move.

Every turkey has its day.  To be honest, whilst I can’t really speak for all turkeys, I’m going to take a wild punt and put it out there that they probably prefer that their day isn’t Christmas day, because I’m inclined to think they like to take centre stage in a different sense.  Today, dear reader, The Sheffield Hallam parkrun was led out by a complete turkey of a runner, it was quite something to behold. Eyes a bulging, it fair shot round.  Anyone would think it was trying to run away from something.  They can run pretty fast, wild ones can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour apparently, so maybe it was hardly a surprise this turkey was first finisher, having maintained it’s pacing throughout. This is my new favourite parkrun photo of all time by the way Mr Carman, you got that turkey legs of the ground and right in amongst the elite athletes from the start.  Job done. No-one else had a chance with a flying start like this really did they.

turkey leading by a head!

They can fly quite fast too, if the internet is to believed.  55 mph.  This might account for why Father Christmas did give them a go in an early prototype of his sleigh, but I guess ungrateful people kept nipping out and stealing them for their Christmas tables whilst he was otherwise engaged down a chimney somewhere dropping off presents on Christmas Eve. Something like that. Anyway, he ended up with just the two, and it just wasn’t sustainable, loads of kids didn’t get their presents, people complained, that kind of thing, so he went with the reindeers instead in the end.  Reindeers know how to handle themselves a bit better too I guess.  Big antlers, that sort of thing.  Point is, you tend to see turkeys trussed up rather than running free at Christmas these days, which is why it was a novelty to witness one in motion at Endcliffe Park.

wild turkeys pulling santa

This all goes to show that just when I think I have exhausted parkrun in general, and Sheffield Hallam parkrun in particular as a possible source of new material to write about, I learn something new.  I suppose it should come as no surprise to find that turkeys are on the run pre-christmas, it is after all the last chance these sensitive intelligent creatures have to make a final bid for freedom – but I didn’t previously appreciate that a ‘turkey run’ is quite such an actual thing. Albeit in America, and we don’t want to rush to embrace everything that comes from over there now do we?  Did you know turkeys appreciate music too by the way.  That’s why turkey whisperer is an actual job, trust me, I’m a qualified careers adviser, I know about these things.  Plus it was in The Guardian, so that clinches it.

turkey whisperer

Whereas turkeys show their appreciation of music by clustering around and joining in.  parkrunners show their appreciation a bit differently, by running on by. We did all like it a lot though.  Live music at our pre-Christmas Sheffield Hallam parkrun has become something of a tradition in recent years, and even though we ran past rather than gathered around the musical trio, it was rather lovely.  Oooh, spot the santa dashing round the back…  Most festive.  Kudos to these young musicians for turning out on a Saturday morning to perform as well.  I doubt I’d have been community minded enough to volunteer for that back in the day. Not that anyone would have wanted me to do so, as I never really got beyond a most pitiful rendition of  ‘Go and tell Aunt Nancy‘ on the descant recorder, which I concede would be a bit of a limited repertoire for an impromptu al fresco Christmas concert of even the most modest expectations…  This trio on the other hand, had a long play list of seasonal carols.  Impressive!  Thanks guys 🙂

christmas music trio

Where was I? Oh yes, turkeys running.  Well, according to the online urban dictionary (USA based) , so it must be true:

A turkey run is a very long run in a team until the whole team pukes. It is done before or after Christmas dinner

How very charming and festive.  Not.  Alternatively, Wikipedia tells us the Turkey Trot is more of a thanksgiving tradition, with less actual purging of the stomach and more with having a run to burn off some calories with the winner traditionally getting the prize of a frozen turkey. Think Percy Pud but with celebration of mass slaughter of turkeys as the focus of the occasion rather than the acquisition of a Christmas pudding. Confusingly though, some turkey trots are runs of actual turkeys, as opposed to people dressed up as them.  I suppose on reflection, that shouldn’t be confusing, since in the former case the descriptor is rather more literal and accurate than in the latter, but as a parkrun regular, I’m more familiar with the concept of people running around wearing random fancy dress for the most flimsy of reasons or none at all, so would lean towards expecting the latter.  Food for thought isn’t it? Working out what a turkey trot is, and actual food for you non-veggies out there too as well perhaps.

 

 

The point is, 23rd December was the last official parkrun before Christmas Day.  Whilst there are some Christmas Day parkruns available, for us Sheffield Hallam parkrun regulars, this was last chance saloon for a festive trot out on our home course.  A case of dusting down the santa suits, digging out the tinsel and generally getting in the Christmas groove according to seasonal requirements.  I suppose it was inevitable turkeys would be playing a most active part too.

Naturally, I was quite excited.  This Saturday promised all sorts of jolliness.  Not only festive fancy dress, but parkrunners celebrating milestones.  Specifically, our very own runderwear ambassador was running her 250th parkrun, either that or getting married.  Possibly both.  They look a lovely couple in the photo don’t they.  Congratulations, either way…

milestone lovely couple

Adding to my excited anticipation, I had brought with me a guest from Australia.  I was looking forward to seeing the smile on her face as I introduced her to the parkrun magic.  After all, fancy dress, musicians, parkrun, post parkrun breakfast,  the beauty of Endcliffe park, all my favourite people in the world gathered in one spot. She would be bowled over by the inherent wowiness of it all, her life would never be the same again. How lucky was she never to have been to parkrun before because she was about to do the parkrun equivalent of stepping through the back of wardrobe and entering Narnia.  How would she ever be able to thank me… and yet I wouldn’t need to be thanked, because welcoming a new participant into the fold is absolutely its own reward.  What could possibly go wrong?

We set off, armed with a box of Christmas Crackers, because you never know when they might come in handy on an outing to parkrun in December.  I was wearing my seasonally appropriate santa skirt (still not sure which way round it should go, bow at the front of bow at the back?) and my santa hat, which turned out to be a bit of a fashion fail to be honest, but more of that later.  With the benefit of hindsight, I was maybe a bit wide-eyed and naive to assume that everyone exposed to parkrun will instantly fall for its many and manifest charms, and to fail to pick up on the signals that my house guest was a case in point.  The early clues were her  disbelief that we’d have to walk to the park in the first place, coupled with apparently, not wanting to be seen walking with me whilst I was wearing a Santa hat.  I mean, I completely get the not wishing to be seen in public with me part of that equation, many would agree, but due to the presence of a mere smattering of festive fancy dress, that’s never a good sign.  Also, on reflection, the request that we buy a newspaper en route so she’d have something to do whilst we were all running now I come to think of it…. well, I didn’t need to be Miss Marple did I? Still,  I always get a Saturday Guardian anyway, so complied, and on arrival, positioned her outside the cafe, with instructions to watch us from the bench, and do the clapping and supporting from up there where she would have a grand view and it would be loads of fun.  You couldn’t not get caught up in the all-consuming joy that is parkrun from that vantage point could you?  Super fun would be guaranteed, more than most people can rightly cope with –  or your money back, as is the parkrun way.

start milling around

I skipped over to my parkrun family, excitedly demanding they all cheer her with a rousing greeting of ‘Merry Christmas‘, ‘ho ho ho‘, ‘bah humbug‘ or whatever, as they sped past.  Who could not be won over by such a welcome.  I love my parkrun friends, they are up for such community minded initiatives.  How splendid is that!  All that is best about humanity can be found milling about in a park pre parkruns all over the earth.  Joy to the world indeed.  One reindeer came across from Longshaw especially to take part.  Isn’t that splendid!

 

It was great milling about in the park.  Lots of festive cheer was in evidence.  Our reindeerector was co-ordinating it all with her usual aplomb, if a lack of reindeer accessorizing – still, she has a pass because she was being busy and important, plus others had pushed out the boat, and reindeerector is a very good pun, so that has to count for something.  There was an actual reindeer present too, so that was pretty impressive.  No idea where he put his barcode though.  That’s the problem with running in your birthday suit.  It’s hard enough to find official running clothes with a reasonably sized pocket in, bare skin running is another level of challenge altogether when it comes to secreting your tag, and don’t get me started on what do you do with the house keys!

 

 

Many were rocking festive Santa themed looks, some with more obviously visible outward manifestations of yuletide joy and goodwill to all than others.  I couldn’t help harbouring the thought that one or two must have been of the view that donning the costume slash hat was more than enough to show willing, and they couldn’t reasonably be expected to don a broad smile as well.  I almost prefer the grumpy santas sometimes.  The embodiment of the complexity of the Christmas spirit. Plus, the real one must have been feeling quite stressed.  Those of you who just have to get presents for just the secret santa at work and feel traumatized should spare a thought for the guy that has to visit every child in the world and what’s more, is now live tracked doing it.  I like strava I know.  but that’s for my personal use.  For poor Mr Claus, being tracked on his ultra route would I think add to the stress, it would be no wonder if he was looking a bit grumpy.  See if you can spot him in the smorgasboard of delightful shots that follow…  Some went for the whole his and hers combos.  Admittedly, possibly just by being snapped whist inadvertently running alongside a fellow santa during the run, but I choose to believe at least some couples did the long walk down in their matching outfits.

 

 

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It was great to see lots of santas out and about, but it did make it hard to identify which was the real one.  I know he would have been there somewhere, because

a) it makes sense to hide in plain sight some time and

b) Santa seems a generally cool dude, generous in nature and likely to be predisposed to embracing the parkrun spirit

I still like to think he would have been one of the grumpy looking ones though.  Needs to save his cheeriness for his big day.

Hi-viz heroes were out in force, though not as much force as the RD would have liked.   Still plenty of scope to volunteer people, send a message via the Sheffield Hallam parkrun Facebook page, or email  SheffieldHallamhelpers@parkrun.com ‘go on, go on, go on, go on, go on’, as Mrs Doyle would say.

go on

You wouldn’t want to disappoint her.  Plus, it is a lot of fun.  Also, volunteering is completely compatible with fancy dress, which I appreciate might be your main consideration.

 

 

So there was pre-christmas cheer, and exchange of season’s greetings, and expressions of joy at milestones (about to be) achieved and applause for our hi-viz volunteers who make it all possible.

All in all, it was looking to be another fine parkrunday.  Hurrah.  No wonder so many of us choose to bow down and worship at the temple which is the parkrun start line.  Well, one person did anyway.  That’s how lots of movements start, with just one person, making a public gesture, standing up – or kneeling down, to be counted.  Might go viral,  sort of like that iconic shot of the student in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, but with marvelous rather than catastrophic consequences for all present.

 

 

This woman was pretty awesome in 2017 too though, was she not? In case you can’t remember because there have been so many horrors since, it was the moment when during an English Defence League protest in Birmingham, activist Saffiyah Khan faced down protestor Ian Crossland.  That’s courage, and inspirational, right there.

making a stand against edl

The start line was assembled

 

and the cry went up for off.  We all trotted round our mini circuit and then spread out heading towards the cafe…  I thought I’d burst such was my anticipatory excitement as I imagined my Antipodean friend on the receiving end of a multitude of season’s greetings!

running by

Except when I got there, she wasn’t.  Having nipped into the cafe for a cup of tea and a slice of cake when she’d imagined we were safely underway and would be none the wiser she had so absented herself.  Some cheerily cried out to other unsuspecting and slightly bemused coffee drinkers, others, not unreasonably, abandoned their task.  Shame.  Oh well, I suppose it demonstrates that some people are apparently immune to the charms of parkrun.  Whether that is because they have some sort of genetic abnormality, or whether it is because I am now so inculcated into the cult myself I am no longer able to view parkrun with any degree of objectivity I’m not sure.  I do acknowledge that I freely clap on command at all the RD briefings even when I can’t hear a word of what’s being said and yet I unquestioningly follow their directives.  That might be seen as a slippery slope.  Quizzed later about why she couldn’t embrace it she was able to give quite a full explanation which boiled down to the following key points:

  1. It’s completely pointless
  2. It involves running, and I hate running
  3. It’s outside and cold (by Australian standards)
  4. You wear stupid outfits which is embarrassing to watch and would be mortifying to actually put on
  5. You don’t even have a proper timing mat
  6. I could have had a lie in
  7. Why would anyone want to watch other people run round, some of them aren’t even very good runners
  8. Who wants to hang out with other people in their community
  9. You’ve made me come down before breakfast
  10. I don’t even understand why we are here

The thing is, these observations are hard to rebuff in that she’s sort of encapsulated quite a few of the key features of the enterprise. Also, if I’m honest, before I tried it, I’d perhaps have come up with a similar list – with the additional one of ‘and I’ll look ridiculous in lycra’ so I can’t be too judgemental I guess it just wasn’t to be.  If we are to follow the parkrun code and respect everyone’s right to participate in it in their own way, then I suppose that has to include the right not to participate at all. Oh well.  Maybe she’ll find out it was type two fun later on.  Look back on it all nostalgically and register for one of the Sydney parkruns on the quiet.

Meantime, here are lots of the pre-christmas runners enjoying parkrun in their own way.   So respect people, show respect!

 

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Mr Carman was on fire today to be honest, because there are even more fabulous photos I can’t bear to omit, here are some favourites:

What happens behind the bush, stays behind the bush:

what happens behind the bush stays behind the bush

and the deeley bopper award goes to (though like my santa skirt, I’m not 100% sure they are facing the usual way, but at parkrun we respect everyone’s choices, always, don’t we, even when they are erm, wrong – unless they are four-headed reindeer of course, mutants, and that would be a new level of wrongness altogether. Messes with my head quite frankly.):

favourite deeley bopper

And me running, in my own inimitable way.  I am trying to think of myself running (and life) wise as work in progress. After all, you have to learn to do a thing badly, before you can learn to do it well. I’m working towards being part of the running elite.  My bizarre expression is purely to put you off the scent.  Bow at the front here.  I had it at the back for the Percy Pud.  Still not sure which is conventionally ‘correct’.  I also have no idea at all why I am pulling that face, I’m sure I had my own reasons though.   Probably personal.

bizarre festive expression

So we trotted around, and fun was had and milestones were reached.  How exciting is that.  250 runs.  And not even the first one to do so. A huuuuuuuuuuuuuge cheer went up as this parkrun stalwart sprinted across the line.

 

It was all very emotional.

Oh, and back to the turkeys, some great shots of them in action too.

 

The only thing is.  Oh, I don’t know if I should say.  It feels a bit petty and unseasonal, but then again, the truth will out.  … It’s just that, well, oh gawd, should I say it… I thought there was only one turkey allowed at Sheffield Hallam in perpetuity, and this was it.  The trouble is, you see someone sporting a look like that and it catches on, suddenly turkeys are all the rage at Christmas, but we need to remember where it all started.  I don’t want to cause dissent but I’ll not say too much more – other than to note some of us were there at the inaugural appearance of the turkey at parkrun, and let’s just acknowledge what was seen then, can never be unseen.  I’ll say no more.

one turkey is enough

So finally, run over, and I was reunited with running buddies in general and my Antipodean guest in particular. Naturally, we had to capture the occasion with more photos.  Because that’s what you do isn’t it, and also we are all spectacularly photogenic:

 

Though this is the shot of the day I feel, share in the joy:

Yay smile for parkrun

So that was that, photos taken, congratulations passed on to milestone runners, next stop Jonty’s for breakfast.  Turns out, that one perk of watching parkrun, is that running in a santa hat has a catastrophic effect on a runner’s hair styling options. This is hilarious, and might even partly balance out the horror of all the bad things about parkrun as a saturday activity for visiting Australians.  For my part, and yes dear reader, it was my own hair that was so spectacularly rearranged, well, fortunately I feel that on removal of my santa hat the comedic value outweighed the personal humiliation of my static-induced bouffant hairdo.  It could have been worse.  The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang hair cutting machine might have led to less reversible hair styling options.

santa hat hair

Also, we had crackers, they were fun.  Instant party, and we got a table at Jonty’s which is an incredibly rare occurence these days, so the Christmas countdown was looking good.  How festive were we?  That’s not even a rhetorical question dear reader, you can see for yourself, we were precisely this festive:

 

Ho ho ho!

So there you go.  A turkey ran at Sheffield Hallam and was first finisher. It’s a run not a race so not a winner as such, obviously … What could be more seasonally appropriate. Even better,  there was still Christmas Day parkrun at Concord to come. But you know what parkrun is for life, not just for Christmas, so whether you make/made it here on 25th December or not, it’ll still be there for you when you are next ready.  How lucky we are.  Gawd bless us, parkrunners every one!

For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Sharing parkrun niceyness despite the icyness… Sheffield Hallam parkrun

Digested Read: Running isn’t really happening for me at the moment, plus no internet for months now, I’m not a happy bunny.  Fortunately, we still have parkrun. Share the lurve parkrun people in general and Sheffield Hallam parkrun personages in particular, and all will be well with the world. Ho ho ho etc.  parkrun remains the ultimate mood enhancer.  I went yesterday, and I feel less grumpy now, for which I thank you all.

I can’t lie, I’m definitely Ms Grumpy Knickers today. Mostly first world problems granted, but I’m feeling vaguely traumatized on a number of fronts, specifically running related and internet connectivity.  Running related because I’ve hardly been running lately, partly due to overwhelming business, and partly because I’ve got this annoying ‘niggle’ that I am reluctantly having to concede has been going on long enough that it constitutes an actual injury, and requires some sort of positive intervention over and above ignoring it and hoping it will go away. Running injuries are a bit like Christmas in that respect, sooner or later, you have to bow to the inevitable, there’s no avoiding either altogether, eventually they will punch through your defences of pointless denial and launch into your actual reality… Then on top of this startling realisation, recent icy weather is also massively impeding running play.  Did you know that yesterday saw a record number of cancellations for parkrun due to ice?  We missed out on parkrun last week.  Running is most definitely being restricted because of the cold.   Case in point just today.  Granted, I’d inadvertently double booked myself and so was always going to have to miss out on something, and also strictly speaking shouldn’t be running anyway because it hurts, but today both the Longshaw Tinsel 10k (part of the Trust 10 series)  AND Graves Junior parkrun were cancelled due to ice.  All that effort that went into organising these things and then the elements conspired against us.  Runners everywhere are feeling frustrated and thwarted, myself included. Technically I was even triple booked as I was at one point supposed to be doing XC  too, but I’d already bowed out of that because that environment is a bit more competitive and even I knew my knee wouldn’t hold out for that.  Ironically, the XC went ahead apparently, though to a depleted number of hard-core participants.  Go you though team TNT, awesome effort!  Special congratulations to the brave individual who sported shorts, and to the catering manager for the ameretto and mince pie combo, which is way better than the mince pies and lemsip option which I understand was also under consideration.  Are bikes allowed now at XC?  Must check that if I venture out again next year, that could be a game changer… also, nice head wear everyone.  Bravo!

tnt XC triumph

Anyways, I am digressing, back to case in point…

It certainly looks lovely out there though… (photos shamelessly taken from Longshaw Estate Facebook page)

Totally the right call by organisers, but it is disappointing.  What’s the point of snow if you can’t go out cavorting in it?  Having said that, have you seen this?  Best cancellation notice EVER in the history of running, by Perth junior parkrun ice manager (niche volunteer role granted) click on the link and marvel.  Why the running but not moving on the ice demo has not yet gone viral I simply can’t imagine!

perth junio parkrun

Frustratingly, other more intrepid runners are posting glorious photos of scampering about in the peaks, but the ice on my hilly road leaves me too scared to venture out and about. It’s not so much yaktrax I need as an actual yak.

yak

This is a particular dilemma for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t generally approve of keeping animals in captivity
  2. Even if I did, I don’t know how to look after yaks properly
  3. Even if i did and did, I don’t know where to source them from
  4. Even if I did, and I did and I do, you still should never, ever buy an animal at Christmas.  Animals are for life not just for Winterval and internet memes.  Apparently.

As if all these hardships weren’t enough troubles to weigh me down, I’ve been without internet for weeks now due to ‘supplier error’.  This wouldn’t be so bad, if it were not for the fact that there is no prospect of getting connected before new year. There’s only so much connectivity that can occur with a Vodaphone Dongle. If anything, being in possession of said dongle has only increased my frustration as it wafts the tantalising but elusive hope before me that if I can but find the sweet spot in my dwelling for a micro-second I might just get online.  It’s like trying to grab the end of a rainbow, only less compelling as a theme for fairy stories, and significantly less picturesque – well as far as I know, not honestly checked it out, but I can speculate as well as the next woman, and this is where my research has led me to date …. I don’t need  a survey monkey dataset to validate my instincts on this one surely?

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Without internet I have lost the ability to communicate with my running buddies and check out running related anecdotes so even if not actually running, I could live my running life vicariously through the exploits of others.  I can only tell myself a digital detox was long overdue for so long, 6 weeks and counting is too long.  This story does not wash.

What could I do?

Well, for those of you who are interested in emulating my personal Customised Reallyrubbishnotrunning Action Plan I can tell you so far my strategy has comprised the following:  I’ve done a bit of wallowing in self-pity.  Not terribly effective truth to tell, but then again, that packet of digestive biscuits wasn’t ever going to eat itself and lt’s face it, a mug of tea solves most problems.  Particularly Yorkshire tea.  Are there other teas available?  I suppose there must be…  However, nothing can be as fine as the tea from the plantations of Sheffield surely?

drink tea

Then yesterday, I decided to go to parkrun anyway, because I’ve finally got around to making an appointment to see a physio on Monday (tomorrow), so I figured I might as well see if parkrun does properly break me as if not, that’s fab, and if it does, then at least the physio will have something to treat.  I know, I know, but since when has an injured runner ever listened to any ‘sensible’ advice.  How do I know if I’m hurt or not if I don’t keep checking?

Honestly, given how cold and icy it’s been I wasn’t even that confident Sheffield Hallam parkrun would happen.  Last week lots of Sheffield parkruns were cancelled, and even yesterday Graves was cancelled.  It didn’t look tooooooooo bad when I headed out, but my there was a nip in the air. I wonder if we call it a ‘nip in the air’ because of what it does to your nipples?  I’ve never thought about that before, which is surprising given the ability of my mind to wander in unexpected directions at times.  Mine were, erm,  well let’s just say, signalling that they were most definitely very well aware of the cold, and communicating it quite markedly, pointedly even.  This is not just a ‘me’ thing I hope, or my reader will think this very weird.  Sorry (ish), but then again, the truth will out, just as my.. no enough now.

I wore road shoes, as if my London marathon attempt is to be anything other than hypothetical I need to start getting used to them. This was my first miscalculation of the morning, as it was way more slippery than I’d imagined.  If I’d allowed myself a bit more time, and quite frankly if I could have been arsed, I might have turned back and changed into trail shoes, but that would have meant lugging my weary carcass up a steep hill, and well, you know, might be OK.  If it’s that icy we wont have to run anyway, just go for brunch instead, that wouldn’t be so terrible surely..

I arrived at Sheffield Hallam parkrun  a bit later than usual.  Pink flags were a-flying and runners a-running and no doubt lords a-leaping someplace somewhere too.  One at least was in Endcliffe Park – not sure where his nine buddies were, but then again, maybe he was just practising ahead of time, it’s not the tenth day of Christmas yet…

GC high fliers

He looks quite chuffed with his technique there, and so he should, but his minders behind maybe need to work on their ‘I’m honestly really impressed’ faces in my unsolicited opinion.

parkrun was happening.  No sneaky breakfast without running first then.  You can tell I’m conflicted.  On the one hand I’m massively frustrated about not being able to run, on the other, running is painful at the moment, so if parkrun is cancelled I feel that’s a legitimate reason not to run, and breakfast sans run is permitted, so I’m still part of the parkrun gang and not missing out on anything.  But if it’s on, well rude not to run isn’t it, so parkrun then brunch it is, but my it hurts…  I was a bit later than usual, so less time for meeting and greeting than usual. There was a noticeably small (but perfectly formed) field, and a veritable army of volunteers.  There was also some ice. Uh oh. Right at the start in an area we run across three times. How would this work?

Well dear reader, our Run Directors have massively advanced problem solving skills it seems.  I think some of them may have evolved to use parts of the brain that most humans never activate, because some inventive trouble shooting was speedily put into place.  For starters (pun intended), instead of starting on the skiddy tarmac, the start funnel was shifted onto the frosty, crunchy grass, and then – and this was sheer genius quite honestly – our hi-viz heroes formed a guard of honour to cheer us off and steer us away from the section of ice that might otherwise have thwarted play.  To be fair, we use the human tunnel technique quite a lot at junior parkrun in a (misguided) attempt to direct junior runners, but mostly they just run into us or ignore our best efforts in joyful anarchy.    Look at this though.  Impressive!

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Putting themselves in harm’s way for the greater good (and 1/25 of a T-shirt and some D of E credits maybe).  Courage indeed.  They stayed in position to keep us the right side of the ice as we came back towards them.  Great team work, and effective too, not a single runner toppled that I saw.  I did see a youngster nearly veer into the pond at one point, but that seemed to be a steering rather than ice issue, I think they were able to swerve away in time.

I was noisily whingeing worried about my knee/ calf/ shins/ miscellaneous unfitness to run so slotted in even more towards the back than usual.  I broke my usual rule of not talking and running, and ended up in a companionable yomp with my Dig Deep running buddy.  To avoid any suspicion that this talking and running malarkey will ever become a regular occurence, I made sure I looked especially joyless in the parkrun photos that captured the occasion.  I don’t generally like to brag, but it would be false modesty to pretend I’d not completely nailed the ‘oozing air of hostility’ expression whilst running here don’t you agree?  (Good luck with working out which of those negatives cancel one another out grammar police, think of it as my Winterval quiz challenge for you to enjoy on Boxing day, after your long run).

GC grumpy knickers

You should not be deterred from parkrun by my outward appearance of grumpiness.  Sheffield Hallam parkrunners are in fact mostly joyful.  Not even just because it’s Christmas, but pretty much all the time. Here are some especially joyful ones by way of illustration:

You see, this is the thing.  You can’t be at parkrun and not share in the collective lurve.  I have been suffering from some serious grumpiness of late, but not only did parkrun lift my mood, when I finally managed to get some internet access to look at the photos from yesterday I was reminded with new vigour how completely brilliant this Saturday ritual is.  The photos really do tell a story about how fabulous the event is, and all who contribute to it as participants, spectators, whatever.  Some runners even added to the festive frolics with appropriate accessorizing. Rocking stylish headgear with considerable aplomb.

I also had stylish headgear, but alas never got the memo about needing to rock it with considerable aplomb, probably because it was sent by email, and my internet is STILL NOT WORKING.  I just stuck with a slightly pained expression instead.

not rocking headgear

Cynicism and unflattering photo shoots aside, parkrun is a marvel though.  When you look back at all the photos of our Sheffield Hallam regulars storming round in the freezing cold with huge smiles to complement their goose bumps it is pretty impressive. The phenomenon that is parkrun brings joy not just for Christmas, but year round, though clearly many will enjoy consulting the Christmas Compendium for their sneaky extra winterval parkrun fixes.  Those pitiful parkrunners who find themselves the sole parkrun passionista in their households will be hoping for the ultimate Christmas Gift from Santa this year in the form of a parkrun pass – hope they’ve been good:

parkrun pass

As always, everyone was free to participate in their own way, some taking on a quick sprint challenge, some companionably yomping, others finding parkrun is a manifestation of a dog’s life, but in a good way.   A few people were still basking in the afterglow of a succesful 2017 Percy Pud, sporting the trophy Tee-shirts, which have no doubt been worn continuously since the event as who would want such a garment wrenched from them in an untimely fashion when it was good to go another week or so at least?  I salute you all, co-conspirators; sprint finishers; leading the throngers; Percy Puddingers; unconvincingly camera-shyers and milestone celebrants.

Even Queen Victoria was amused, though sadly she was cut a bit out of shot in this image, but I promise you she was nigh on doubled up with merry laughter, so caught up was she in the infectious joy of being present at a parkrun event.  That’s why these two are laughing cheerily, just been sharing a merry joke with her I expect, as you do.

GC even vic would be amused by parkrun

Takes all sorts parkrun, and you know what, running at its best can pump out those endorphins to the point we can all feel magnificent and invincible.  Think that’s what’ happening here.  Spreading the joy people, we can all be part of this, walk, run, jog, volunteer, but just be there and marvel and life can feel great for a bit at least.

Point of information, I don’t actually look like this when I run (see evidence above, sadly) if we are honest, most of us don’t, and not only because of gender differences.  But the point is, sometimes you can feel like this, it’s all that positive affirmation from volunteers, the collective coming together, the being out on a glorious day.  It’s always worth it.  Always, even on the not so great days or days where there is less festive accessorizing and more rain.

GC santa dash

Yesterday though, we even had bad yuletide punning.  Life surely doesn’t get much better than that!

GC tree amigos

Mind you, only just realised, no actual Christmas Trees in the shot.  I’m hoping they’ve sold out, and aren’t just going to keep on felling the few trees Amey havent already lopped down and try to palm* those off on their unsuspecting public… (*see what I did there?  I know, genius – wood you credit it).

So, despite everything, despite my lack of running at the minute, and other complications in life, parkrun is still something that can put a smile on my face.  I’m so grateful to have stumbled across it, and feel incredibly lucky to be in Sheffield where we have a veritable plethora of runs to choose from and dedicated teams who do all they can to ‘make it so’ even in unpromising conditions.  Yay to the volunteers – always room for a few more of course, just contact the relevant parkrun team by email and you too could gain the glory of hi-viz and maybe one day graduate to a clipboard or scanner – even stopwatch if you have the nerve to operate one and at least one opposable thumb.

GC volunteers important huddle

So just one more parkrun to go before Christmas – two if you factor in junior parkruns on Christmas Eve which are guaranteed to be awesome or your money back as I understand it.  Next week’s at Sheffield Hallam is bound to be a Christmas Corker.  Hope to see you all there, doing your own thing, in your own way, because that’s all that’s needed for the awesomeness to continue.

Share the joy people, seeing as how it’s Christmas (nearly).  Let’s take a moment to remember how blooming brilliant parkrun is, lest we come to take it for granted.  Just think, there are already people in the world running at junior parkrun who have never known a world without parkrun to take part in.  Isn’t that amazing, to the next generation a world without parkrun will be as incomprehensible as a world without mobile phones ‘but how did you all manage?’ to which surely the honest to goodness truthful response has to be ‘I have no idea.  It was a dark and dismal time and place, but we knew no better’.

I suppose it must have been an unknown unknown, and we were all the poorer for it.

Ho ho ho everyone.  Yuletide felicitations too.

GC something in my eye

You’re welcome.

For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

International parkrun day – teenage kicks at Sheffield Hallam parkrun October 2017

Digested read:  7th October 2017 was parkrun’s thirteenth birthday and International parkrun day.  Yay!  I had a balloon.  I lost my balloon.  I still had fun though.  Did you know 2.5 million individuals have taken part in parkrun now. Are you one of them?  Isn’t that grand! Happy running til next parkrunday.

Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.  I mean, I’m the first to admit that retrospectively I probably should have thought to undertake a more comprehensive risk assessment before turning up at Endcliffe Park to run Sheffield Hallam parkrun whilst in possession of a balloon, but I simply failed to anticipate the garrotting potential of a helium balloon’s string amidst a stampede of runners. Guilty as charged. Hey ho, as it happens, catastrophe was averted, but let’s just say I’m not running with a balloon again any time soon. It’s way harder than you think, and also far too much responsibility for someone with an aversion for being responsible for anything at all really, well not if it can reasonably be avoided.

Last Saturday, in case you haven’t been concentrating on parkrun history, and care not if it ever comes up as a question at a future pub quiz, was International parkrun day.  The date being the occasion of the thirteenth birthday of the original parkrun (which was actually a time trial apparently, but let’s not quibble).  The reason why the thirteenth anniversary is particularly worthy of note, is because when the event started on 2 October 2004 there were just 13 runners taking part in the inaugural event.  Hence the significance. See what they’ve done there?  I know, smart people in the parkrun core team, creative and cunning too!  Genius.

 

Thus it was determined by I know not what process, that the start of parkrun’s teenage years should be especially celebrated and International parkun day was thus to be particularly well marked.  We’ve had International parkrun day for a while now I think, but this is the first time I’ve been quite so aware of it as a ‘thing’, re-launch if you will.  Hurrah!  It’s only a matter of time before it becomes an official holiday worldwide.  Surely?

Starting a new international day of celebration isn’t an entirely easy thing to do.  Individual parkruns did their own thing.  From a continuum of absolutely nothing, to full on champagne and prize giving.  That would be Bushy park parkrun – the epicentre of all things parkrun being its ground zero.  Imagine, there was a time before parkrun?  I can hardly imagine it.  There was a general push to get as many people as possible to wear apricot by way of celebration.  I did consider this, but apricot isn’t really my colour, well it’s orange really isn’t it and anyway I couldn’t get a personalised top with my event name on it in time.  I will get one eventually, as I think it’s not much to ask of runners to support parkrun by doing so.  Plus, purchasing an apricot top could likely become a way to cross-subsidise the milestone tees.  Here’s hoping.  Rather brilliantly, and showing initiative as well as dedication, a New Zealand parkrun did an extra parkrun at a time to coincide with it being run in the UK. Whangarei parkrun ran an unofficial parkrun at 9pm New Zealand time – solidarity across the world indeed.  Isn’t that grand.  Special wave and shout out to them, and let’s all go visit as soon as we can.  En masse would be grand, but quite logistically challenging, so we’ll just have to make the trek in dribs and drabs for now, and spread the international joy incrementally.   Whitby parkrun get the prize for ingenious apricot top dissemination though.  Bushy parkrun possibly (maybe inevitably) get the prize for literal numbers sporting apricot in a veritable sea of colour – or should that be more accurately a puree of apricot.  Not sure….

 

 

Anyways, I was thinking we ought to do something at Sheffield Hallam parkrun, though this appeared not to meet with universal enthusiasm.  The official line was ‘not really anything, but there might be a surprise and wear apricot if you can’.  Oh well, undeterred, I decided I might at least try to make my own entertainment.  You live and learn.  What to do though? What to do?

In the end, I decided against unilateral fancy dress, and thought I’d go for the more minimal but symbolic helium balloon purchase. Turns out, even getting a balloon is harder than you think.  I realised I had no idea where you go to get such a thing, and then when I did find somewhere, realised that apparently 13 year olds are considered too old to want a balloon with a number thirteen on it, as the numbered balloons only go up to ten.  I could potentially have gone for the two balloons in metallic individual numerals, but that was a bit top end of my budget for what was essentially a desperate whim.  Undeterred, I thought I’d go for a simple ‘happy birthday’ offering.  ‘Boy or girl?’ enquired the guy at the fancy dress shop.  Boy or girl?  Blimey, is this what parents have to go through every time they buy anything.  Is even a balloon purchase gendered?   I have no idea what gender parkrun is, but as an inclusive event, my feeling is it should be gender neutral. Well, that narrowed it down.  But I liked my balloon anyway.  Plus it came in a bag so it wouldn’t float away or require me to spoil the impact by carrying it floating above me on its string all the way home.  I also made an impulse buy of some little party hats, because who doesn’t like a party hat? A way to spread the joy of celebration surely!  (I’m so naive.)

Happy Birthday to me

So International parkrun day dawned.  To be fair, you couldn’t really tell it was International parkrun day on waking, nothing on the news which was a bit disappointing, but then again, those in the know, know, that’s the main thing. Incomprehensible as it is to some of us that there are still people out there who know not of parkrun or worse yet, do, but just don’t actually care.  I was reminded of visiting a good friend of mine in Warrington some years ago. Brilliantly, she had coached her offspring to look forward to seeing me, and when I appeared at the school gate with her to pick up one of said children, she took my hand, gazed up at me and explained with genuine confusion ‘do you know, when I told my friends at school that you were coming to visit today, not one of them knew!’  She was perplexed and horrified in equal measure.  I was naturally massively flattered and impressed.  I explained to her that due to my celebrity status, I had to keep my travel plans under wraps to avoid being mobbed  – she was very special and therefore in the know… I don’t think I’ll ever experience someone being so delighted to see me ever again, but no-one can take that moment away from me. What a marvelous and well brought up child she was! (and is, but also sadly older, wiser and less easily impressed now.)

Securing a balloon about your person as a prelude to running with it is actually quite hard. The balloon drags behind you, and where to tie the string?  In the end I secured one end of it in the back pocket of my running tights (hand free option you see) and then secured it a bit more with a safety-pin on the string attaching it to my top.  I thought that way I’d keep it under control. Epic fail.  The walk down to Endcliffe park was something of a challenge.  It’s hard to look nonchalant with a balloon attached to you just as it is hard to look nonchalent wearing deely boppers for say a Halloween themed parkrun of previous years.  I was conscious of getting a few smiles from people believing it to be my birthday, and I felt a bit fraudulent accepting their well-meant greetings, but you can hardly expect to cross the road and chase after a random pedestrian in order to explain it isn’t your birthday it’s for parkrun without them taking fright and running away it seems.  I felt for those other street walkers at this hour.  They must have felt they had stumbled on a peculiar subset of the local population as they went about their business.  I wasn’t the only unusual sighting.  I also encountered a woman walking along with a bowl of cereal and a dog.  The dog was company, the cereal was breakfast. This I find curious.  There is nothing unremarkable about taking toast, or even a mug of tea or other breakfast beverage of your choosing as you head out of a morning, but a bowl of cereal with the spoon and everything I thought quite ambitious for a morning constitutional. Fair play to her.  Wouldn’t try it myself, but then I’m more of a porridge woman. That comes out of the microwave piping hot. Dangerous…. Each to their own.

I made it to the parkrun assembly point, a little early, as I’d heard talk of flags.  A fellow parkrunner was trying to get 13 runner of 13 different nationalities to each run with their flag to communicate the international inclusivtiy of parkrun.  Couldn’t see them. Oh.  Never mind, I set about trying to offload distribute my party hats.  You have no idea how hard it was. Also, how easy I am to say ‘no’ to. Outright and unapologetic rejection followed rejection.  I think I made the rookie error of implying the offering was negotiable.  If I’d presented them as gifts, people might have felt mean-spirited to refuse.  I got a goldfish that way. Back in the day when you won them at fairs – something of which I do not approve.  A house-sharer of mine won one, but didn’t want it. He knocked on the bedroom door of our first fellow sharer and when she answered asked ‘do you want a gold fish?’ to which she responded (not unreasonably) ‘No.  Why would I want a goldfish?  *&%$ off!‘ and shut her door.  Learning from this response he then knocked on the next door which was mine ‘I’ve got you a goldfish‘ he said, handing it over.  ‘Thank you‘ I said, taking it.  Because that’s only polite, even though I was thinking in my head exactly as my first house mate had done.  Talk about a white elephant. Cost me a fortune that goldfish, I felt bad for her, so had to buy a tank, and a  filter, an aeration pump – even a companion. She lived for years. She was called Calamity, which is an excellent name for a goldfish I’m sure you’ll agree.  I don’t have a photo of her unfortunately, you’ll just have to imagine what she looked like.

 

 

I kept one party hat for myself, and disseminated the rest as best I could… I couldn’t help noticing that even some of those hat that I thought I’d succesfully ‘gifted’ were almost immediately palmed off elsewhere.  Oh well, I suppose not everyone can carry off a hat with panache and glory.  Fortunately, some can!  Party on people.  Great hat sporting going on with you – you know who you are…

 

 

 

I took brief joy in spotting another balloon wielding runner.  Yay.  Top marks for excellent balloon choice, but it seemed the balloon was for milestone celebration purposes.  Oh well, it was still most festive, and a fine colour co-ordinated choice to complement if not quite match the apricot tee too, so credit where credit was due.  Also, this particular runner has perfected the art of balloon running (yes it is a ‘thing’ and if I had my way it would be a recognised sport too, like parkour increasingly is perhaps, only marginally less dangerous – unless you inhale the helium, which you really, really shouldn’t).  If only I’d appreciated there was this level of expertise available to talk through balloon running techniques I maybe wouldn’t have got into such difficulties myself.  Oh well, too late now…  Worth noting for future reference though, one of the great joys of parkrun is the breadth of the network you build amongst fellow parkrunners.  I reckon there is expertise on just about every topic under the sun within the Sheffield Hallam parkrun field.  I’m not quite sure what my particular area of expertise is just yet, but perhaps it will emerge over time, given the right sort of nurturing and positive reinforcement.  Also, given the benefit of the doubt…

 

 

So people assembled. Some did their active wear warm ups – why don’t more people wear sweat bands these days? … others saluted the glory of the event in their own way, or offered up a little prayer of gratitude.  Lovely.

 

 

One things for certain, everyone was having heaps of fun, eager with anticipation for the great awf to come!

are we having fun yet

I love the random milling bit at parkrun.  What a fine and eclectic lot we all are.  It would be great to do a pen portrait of every participant on a particular day, I bet every one of us has a story of sorts that brought us there…

 

 

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Many had dressed up for the occasion, as well as sporting apricot, so that was excellent.  You have to appreciate it when people make an effort.  Again, good attention to detail with the colour co-ordination there.  Any colour-me-beautiful consultant would be well chuffed.  No personal make over services required here, no indeedy!

apricot effort

There was the first timers’ briefing, and then the run director led a rousing chorus of The Hokey Cokey before getting on with the main business of the day.

 

 

The run briefing did include a small element of ‘this is what you could have won’ as we learned we were to have had the co-op with us as they are a new sponsor of parkrun, but their presence was blocked by some local by-law or other, presumably one against co-operation with others?  We also learned we were going to have lots of international flags, but that wasn’t possible but, there would be a special appearance of the Belize flag later on to look out for.  It was however the thought that counts, so that idea was applauded. Then there was a shout out for someone getting married later.  Not just anyone, I expect lots of people get married on a Saturday, but a parkrunner present.  They were from Leamington.  At least I thought that was what was said.  I also rather jumped to the conclusion that the tutus were for the wedding party to save them all from having to get changed later on. Well, it would be tight getting to the registry office or church or whatever straight from parkrun. In fact, I think I might have got that all wrong, because at one point I did shout ‘go Leamington‘ at this trio of runners, and they just looked utterly perplexed.  I have  a soft spot for Leamington parkrunners, on account of the fact I used to live there.  Maybe this was just their running gear of choice in Autumn?  Autumn colours you see.  Who knows… never a colour-me-beautiful consultant when you need one!

respect the right of everyone

So volunteers thanked, parkrun rules run through (keep off the road people) and happy birthdays shared, milestones applauded and soon enough we were awf.

I am very proud of the fact that finally I have the ultimate flattering photo of me in the line up.  Identifiable only by a balloon.  I knew taking a balloon to parkrun was a genius idea!  Off we headed, the great mass of parkrunners, stampeding towards our very own intrepid photographer. He is fearless.  Or naively trusting.  I forget which. So far untrampled though, which is more than remarkable after over two hundred times of  being a volunteer photographer and so standing facing the front runners as parkrun kicks off, right in their path, fearless (or stupid) like a matador facing a bull (only less cruel and less enthusiastic about blood sports one would hope).  It is frankly a miracle he remains unscathed, physically at least – what it does to the mind to have hundreds of people running towards you with manic looks on their faces week after week I have no idea.  I don’t like to ask.  Maybe some things really are better left unsaid.

 

 

So we runners ran and yomped round, whilst the volunteer hi-vis army looked on, or directionally pointed, or clapped and cheered depending on their particular role for the day.

 

 

It started well, a bit of congestion made for a slow start.  That never bothers me, my excuse for my tardiness this time round was that I had the TenTenTen trail 10k the next day, but truthfully I don’t need much of an excuse to take things at a gentle yomping pace. Better value for money if you take it slowly on your way round.  A better excuse for my steady pace, was the own goal scored by running with a balloon. It’s a nightmare.  It doesn’t weigh anything, obviously, but it is like it is possessed by demons or something.  It is a perpetual irritation, bopping about and being wayward.  It’s probably like trying to run with a cat or something, albeit one that is airborne and tied to you with a string.

I did get some good will from my juxtaposition to the balloon. A fair few happy birthdays.  As I was also sporting my parkrun 100 top, I even got one ‘happy one-hundredth birthday’ which I like to think was a merry quip not an absolute belief. Some people thought I was doing my milestone run.  Oh well, I’ll take positive encouragement from wheresoever it comes. Just shows though, it’s hard to get across a pithy message.  Even the most seemingly obvious symbols can be ambigious. It’s what the study of semiotics is all about.  I imagine that it is anyway, not having studied it myself. (That one’s for you EWFM!)

I freely admit, it was also somewhat hazardous to other runners, so I had to keep panting out breathless apologies. At one point it near enough garrotted a fellow runner as its string seared across his neck as he tried to pass. ‘thank goodness I changed that cheese-wire strand to cheery balloon ribbon‘ I thought to myself as I once again mumbled an embarrassed ‘sorry.’  Fortunately, most were good-humoured about it, recognising my  mortifying faux pas as inadvertant rather than driven by malicious intent.  Mind you, it would be an interesting tactic for a faster runner wanting to impede/ take out any prospective over-takers.    I hung onto my balloon on a shorter string, and stuck to the sides.  It’s just as well parkrunners are all signed up to the parkrun code which contains within it the directive reminder to respect the right of all runners to participate in parkrun in their own way.  I wasn’t alone in doing so to be fair.   I think everyone pictured is enjoying parkrun in their own way, it’s just that in some photos the level of enjoyment is more obviously manifest than in others.  Whether you want to maintain your Tommy Cooper ‘Just like that’ impression for the duration, levitate the whole way round or multi-task with buggy and hound, parkrun will welcome you.

 

 

Anyways, it didn’t end well for my balloon. I made it to the end of Endcliffe park, and on to Rustlings Road. There I tucked myself in beside the railings and disaster struck.  I felt an ominous tug, and then… nothing!  My balloon had snagged on the railings and gone off on a voyage of its own. It’s not so much the loss of the balloon I mourn, it is that my ineptitude has let loose a balloon to the elements.  Discarded helium balloons are a menace for wildlife. Oh no.  Humiliation at my balloon carrying ineptitude was preferable to this new overwhelming sense of guilt and growing mortification. I’m never running with a balloon again.  Not without taking the proper precautions to avoid inadvertant release anyway.  Gutted.  Not even the possession of a silver party hat (which for the record stayed in place extremely well is very practical for running in just so you nay-sayers know you can’t use that excuse to reject one another time) could bring me cheer.

No balloon

On the plus side, it was a lot easier running without a balloon. And it is the thought that counts.

Eventually, my two circuits down, I was free to take up supervisory responsibilities cheering in the runners still coming in. This is always fun!  An important job too.

in charge

I also got my first proper flag sighting!  Dreams can come true, the flags were out in every sense.  No flagging on this course… ironically!

Class flag act

In fact there were more flags revealed in the photos post event.  Shows I should have a bit more faith.  Plenty of effort put in to the occasion, you just have to look:

 

 

 

So all too soon, that was another run done and dusted.

they who run together

It’s got a small footprint parkrun. Amazing how it goes from over 700 people assembled to nothing within an hour or so.

Parkun paraphenalia

Hope nobody went home with a barcode.  parkrunners are a forgiving lot, but there are limits…  Don’t try to find them.

parkrun barcode ruling

Many departed. But many lingered too. For me, post parkrun pleasantries continued in the EPIC Endcliffe Park Independent Cafe.  It was great to have a catch up with running buddies old and new.  I lurve running buddies, they are The. Best.  We can do anything if we cheer each other on.  I love that parkrun is so established one amongst us has her own espresso cup at the EPIC cafe.  That’s service is it not?

So that was it, done for another week. The fun hadn’t ended though, because there were still the photos to pour over after the event. Those snaps are most educational, I never knew before that you were supposed to fold children before putting them in a buggy for example. This operator has a self-folding child, which is particularly impressive.

folding to fit in buggy

So happy 13th birthday parkrun, and well done to all of you everywhere who made the effort to wear some apricot for the day.  Good effort.  I wonder what the teenage years have in store for parkrunners everywhere.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, our very own parkrun royalty Mr S-H, had a special message for us all on this auspicious day.  Hurrah!  It was quite nice getting the email, but I hope in time the technology will evolve so he can be beamed as a hologram into the sky to deliver future anniversary messages to the people like a pimped up Queen’s speech, only with fewer corgis and a less self-conscious Christmas tree.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

As we prepare to celebrate our 13th birthday this weekend, it’s hard not to reflect on how far we have come in such a short space of time. 13 runners and a handful of volunteers at our first event has grown into a global community of more than 2.5 million participants. And while the numbers are impressive, it’s the friendships, the life-changing stories and the positivity that I have always seen as the true measure of our success.

Did you know, on the 13th birthday weekend the 1,000,000th person outside of the UK completed a parkrun! That’s quite a cult community!  Go us!

So thank you parkrun pioneers and parkrun people present and yet to be.  As our very own Belize flag bearer puts it with such beaming eloquence:

From just a few of us around the world, muchas gracias for being always, welcoming, inclusive and encouraging, no matter what time we take to complete our Saturday run! To all our wonderful parkrun family, fellow runners, run directors, marshals, volunteers and photographers, gracias! ❤️Sheffield Hallam Parkrun❤️😃xxx Again Feliz International 13th Cumpleaños parkrun!!! xxx

Gotta smile.

You gotta smile

Happy running y’all 🙂

Thanks Pontefract parkrun for awesome customised birthday greeting.  Great stuff!

pontefract logo

I really have to go now. There is an ENORMOUS house spider in my flat.  It has so far respected my boundaries and stayed on the floor, but I just glimpsed it migrating up on to the sofa.  Enough.  This ends here.  We can’t both stay in this flat tonight, so obviously I need to go pack…

For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.

For all Sheffield Hallam parkrun posts see here scroll down for older entries.

And as a postscript, we are more international than some know in Sheffield:

Germany 🇩🇪 Slovenia 🇸🇮 India 🇮🇳 Belize 🇧🇿 Iceland 🇮🇸, pic from International parkrun 13th Birthday!

flags a plenty

Splendid!

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Running, not singing in the rain. Back to base at Sheffield Hallam parkrun. Definitely autumn now…

Digested read:  made it out to parkrun, not my most enthusiastic running outing, but I like to think I showed willing.  Then post parkrun breakfast and running endorphins did their thing and now who knows what running horrors I may have unwittingly signed up  to for 2018?

I’ve been a bit of a lard-arse since the 12.12 if truth be told.  Tourism at Bushy parkrun last week was my first run in weeks, and then last weekend it was back to my home patch at Sheffield Hallam parkrun.  I was present more in body than in mind, some might have applied the word ‘begrudgingly’ to my demeanour and I’d have to concede they would have done so fairly, but in my defence it was a wet one, and being physically present is at least a start.  I’m still lapping my other self in a parallel (possibly more comfy cosy) universe, who rolled over when the alarm went off and stayed in bed.  They also got to listen to Saturday Live, can’t remember when I last got to do that…  What might have been eh, sigh.

By way of illustration, Here is the parkrun assembly of 9th September (thanks George Carman). As a fun rainy day activity, why not have a sit down and squint at the photo and see how many gritted teeth you can count and how many waterproofs there are in evidence.  The results are an indication of how much fun was expected to unfold. Clue, the higher those numbers, the lower the fun quotient.  You can disregard the people in shorts, there’s always a few, and they are statistical outliers which might compromise your findings.  It is a great testament to the cult lure of parkrun that I’ll even turn out for it in the rain.  How did that happen?

parkrunning in the rain

I would have happily run the whole thing in my pink coat were it not that I live in mortal fear of being seen by my cheetah buddy who (rightly) always wrestles me out of what she considers to be excess clothing if I appear to be sporting too many layers pre-run.  Heaven help me should she catche me waivering at the start in my duffel coat.  Honestly, the fantasies I’ve had about being allowed to run in a parka in our inclement weather – and I don’t even own one, but it’s just too high risk… She wasn’t even there today, but her eyes are everywhere, she’d find out, it’s not worth it.  Others had great running gear options,  I could only look on in envy and admiration, loving this powder blue offering, wonder if I could smuggle that through my next kit inspection?