Posts Tagged With: Tralee parkrun

Feeling the parkrun love – back to Bushy parkrun to join the TpoT troupe. #parkrunfriendsarethebest

Digested read: back at Bushy parkrun this week to meet up with Tralee parkrunners on Tour.  It was jolly nice.

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Undigested read:

I wasn’t going to do another blog post about Bushy parkrun, because, well you know, maybe cyberspace is already awash with enough parkrun accounts, and then I went and you know how it is.  The fabulousness of the morning unfolded and it just seems a shame to let it pass undocumented.  Reading this account is optional after all, and I like the idea that I can capture my fond memories of the morning before they fade away entirely. Also, I really, really wanted to share this picture.  I don’t know who drew it unfortunately, but apparently a GP, presumably from Durham as Durham parkun originally shared.  So many truths within, perhaps not quite all universal ones – personally I’ve abandoned any aspiration to a new pb, and my alarm goes off way earlier than 8.10 – but the other aspects of the parkrun emotional rollercoaster I can completely relate to.  Particularly the axis (can’t remember if it’s x or y) that charts the shift from being ‘bitter and resentful’ to ‘loving life’!  So true!  Thank you J Stutchbury(?).  Great name by the way.  When I’m a best selling author I’m going to name a character after you.

parkrun emotional rollercoaster

Where was I?  Oh yes, heading off to Bushy parkrun.  The reason for this particular sojourn was to coincide with the pathologically lovely TpoT people!  That’s Tralee parkrunners on Tour for the uninitiated.  I have the extreme good fortune to have become an honorary member of this group that oozes parkrun love and general all-round fabulousness.  It was they who invited me to join them for my first bit of international parkrun tourism at Hasenheide parkrun last year.  The Tralee Troupe have tourism down to a fine art, cheap flights from Kerry airport mean they seem to relatively frequently take flight en masse and descend on parkruns the world over.  I wasn’t sure if they should be more accurately described as a troop or a troupe.  According to the interweb, troop apparently usually refers to a group of soldiers or people more generally, whereas a troupe implies a traveling contingent of theatrical performers.  I rest my case.  Any parkrun contingent including a juggler in their midst surely qualifies as the latter?  A toupee is something entirely different, and arises from either a typo or a spelling error, so hope we’ve cleared that up.

tpot juggling still

The real miracle is how they can literally remove 100 parkrunner regulars who head off on these trips, but still leave behind a fully operational parkrun with 200 plus people running the parkrun show. Awesome!

Hooray.  I have the official orange beanie that marks me out as such.  Not going to lie, it isn’t the most flattering item in my running wardrobe, but it is among my most valued ones, who doesn’t like glory by association?  I’m super chuffed to get to be an acknowledged part of such an awesome parkrun troupe.  Strictly speaking I think I must be on probation at the moment, as I’ve not actually yet got to run at Tralee parkrun itself.  One day I hope to actually go and run on their hallowed course at Tralee, and that will make my membership truly official. They haven’t actually said it out loud, but I know in my heart of hearts I can only ever be considered to be on probation until I’ve joined the Tralee parkrunners in all their glory in their native habitat. It’s little wonder that Tralee parkrun is most definitely at the top of my parkrun tourism destinations for the future.  I’ll need to renew my passport first mind

Oh, here is the picture of me modelling my TpoT hat.  ‘nuf said. When I’m a best selling author I’m not using this shot to illustrate my author’s bio, but I can still be weirdly fond of the beanie all the same.  After all, who wouldn’t experience a little puff of pride and pleasure and a frisson of joy for being able to sport such a beacon of shared identity and gain glory by association with surely the most famed of parkrun tourists anywhere!  If I’d given it a bit more forethought, I’d have adopted a t-pot pose for the picture as well, but not quite sure how that would work doing a selfie, which is not my area of expertise at the best of times, maybe the world has had a lucky escape on all counts!  I’m not saying I won’t try some other time, but some things are best not shared aren’t they.  We can take social media too far…

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Where was I.  Oh yes, staying in Teddington, up early to allow sufficient time to get into my new sports bra – which I’m testing out for Brooks – it’s a juno, and doing ok.  Having wrestled into this, I headed off to Bushy park via my mum’s.  She was taking her honorary marshaling duties very seriously, and had all her kit laid out in readiness, including a bespoke sign for the TpoTs and her fine orange beanie, also gifted to her by the lovely folk of Tralee, partly as a ninetieth birthday present and partly to allow her to demonstrate support to the parkrunners on the move.  Hurrah!

It was blooming cold in the park, but really beautiful.  I’d been really worried about the ice and forecast of arctic conditions, but in fact, although there was some ice around, it was limited to patches and the roads were clear.  Mum would be making it through the magic gateway…

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The sun was popping through the trees, and all looking fabulous as always. I love this park.  It’s extraordinary how it continues given the amount of people and dog walkers and everything else that use it every day.  Even so, you can feel like you have the whole expanse to yourself if you time your arrival right in the early mornings.

I borrowed some pictures from the Bushy parkrun facebook page, well they were quite fabulous. Some are mine, general rule of thumb is where a shot is blurry and erm, idiosyncratic, it’s probably mine, if it looks like a vision of heaven and is perfectly focused and composed, then it probably isn’t.  You’ll work it out.

I was distracted by squawking parakeets and silhouettes of stags in the park and the sight of seagulls standing around on ice and swans thrusting through it like ice breakers.  Eventually though, I saw a beacon approaching.  A fellow TpoTer.  These hats may not flatter, but my they do mean you can spot a fellow sporter of one at a thousand paces. Very handy.

I always get a little frisson of excitement arriving at Bushy parkrun.  The set up is so impressive.  A team was putting the finish funnel up – it is a thing of beauty, and elsewhere token sorter tables were being erected and other bits of purposeful blustering about were going on.  It’s the same but not at every parkrun.  Familiar elements but writ large here.

I dumped my backpack on a handy tree railing:

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and then I soon found myself meeting and greeting my Tralee buddies, not seen since Berlin Hasenheide parkrun yet I feel like I know them, it was a grand reunion. There were so many of them.  I don’t know what the collective noun is for a group of Tralee parkrunners but it’s probably a magnificence of parkrunners I think.  That will serve for now at least.

Everything about Bushy parkrun is epic.  Today, there was (obviously) a flash mob, singing and dancing to celebrate a fellow runner’s 500th run.    They were wearing face masks and everything, which sounds a bit weird and stalkery when I write it down, but in context was both appropriate and brilliant.

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I don’t know why I was surprised. This is the parkrun that once had a fly past for someones milestone tee!  I’m sure I’ve seen a video clip somewhere, though I’m darned if I can find it just now… maybe one day.

It was a busy morning, what with various people trying to rendezvous with each other.  One of my Tralee buddies was lamenting that he couldn’t spot a friend he was trying to find, as although he’d promised to wear his 250 milestone tee in order to be distinctive, but frankly, here at Bushy parkrun they honestly aren’t that much of  a rarity!   In better news, I was able to reassure that yep, mum was coming. The cold wouldn’t stop her, but ice would have, but I’d checked her route from the nursing home and astonishingly it was clear.  Hooray.  It actually turned into the most unexpectedly glorious of mornings. At least one errant parkrunner is known to have come to regret rolling over in bed and going back to sleep on parkrun morning…

dont miss parkrun

I suppose as long as you learn from your mistakes, that is the important thing…  Like the running cup from lidl, and are those the Kingston phone boxes I see.  That’s pretty cool actually, but not as cool as parkrun obviously.  Fortunately there is always next Saturday.  Unless you live in Durham and a forest has been planted over your usual Durham parkrun route whilst you were sleeping.  I mean trees are good, and planting them is excellent, but a bit of communication might have helped all round…

Mr S-H was present, which was a surprise, as I’d have thought he’d be much too busy with his contra range right now. I understand he personally supervises every item produced, with some enthusiasm, if the photos are to be believed.  I reckon he might even iron on those spots himself you know, bet that bit is quite rewarding.  I have one of the sage base layer tops, it’s roasty toasty.   It’s official colour is ‘green marl’ by the way, but I have no idea what that actually means, except it probably means sage, just so you know.

personally made by psh himself

Maybe he was there because his better half was part of the fame-inspired flash mob.  (Cheery wave, I would have said hello, but you were mid star-jump at the time) wearing the face mask didn’t fool me.   Or maybe they were both there, with dog, because, well you know, parkrun is fun.

I was distracted by so many people to talk to, and such a hubbub.  The ground was declared to be icy in parts, so after the first timer’s briefing

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marshals were dispatched to their marshal points, and

then we were all shooed a bit further over than usual for the Run Director’s briefing. They had slightly shifted the start to avoid a HUGE icy patch just before the ant hills.  This made the pre run understandably but uncharacteristically chaotic and I couldn’t honestly hear properly. I improvised and clapped along when it seemed as if audience participation was expected and then joined the mass scamper of the start when the parkrun was declared underway.

Considering how many runners there are, it was a good natured start.  I started a bit further forward than intended, so it seemed as if pretty much the entire field got to overtake me. Oh well, one day I’ll cause a sensation by overtaking someone, even if it is only because they have to stop to rescue a puppy from up a tree or something.

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Being in among so many runners is uplifting though.  I love that you get to hear the chit-chat of other runners, putting the world to rights, comparing running goals or injuries or good-naturedly trying to shove their 500 milestone running friend into an icy bog.  What larks eh?

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She survived the support of her friends and made it through to the finish funnel and reviving prosseco though, so don’t feel too sorry for her…

survived the ice

On the way round were excellent marshals, including mini marshals with bells, warning of ice, and wearing their own special hi-vis for the occasion.

However, a special mention should go to the especially heroic paramedic ice marshal, who, disappointingly, wasn’t actually made of ice, but who put himself in harm’s way, by standing on a huge skiddy patch of treacherous ice, just before you turn sharp left beside the cricket pitch, shooing people away. That’s parkrun dedication.  And I thought standing in a line of human cones at the start of Graves junior parkrun was scary!  I’ve never seen a braver marshal than this top man today.  Hurrah to you my friend. There should be a special chrome extension badge for your profile for brave parkrun duties ‘above and beyond’ if I had anything to do with it.  I think something like this would be appropriate:

pow badge

I trotted on through the cold, admiring my fellow runners legging choices and taking in the views:

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As I approached the half way point, I was wondering if my mum would have made it out in the cold as planned.  Good news, I could see her bright orange hat like pulsing outwards like a radioactive beacon.  I was very pleased.  Even more pleased to find as I approached she already had a Tralee parkrun acolyte with her, and what’s more, she was successfully brandishing the signage I’d supplied for this purpose.   Nicely tooled up. Result!  🙂  The bikes aren’t hers by the way, in case you were wondering…

mum and TpoT signs

Though no, I still don’t know why the Irish flag has those colours.  Note to self, must google this…

Obviously I paused for the first of many photo shots!

It was fun.  There was quite a party atmosphere, so I elected to hang on and wait for others to get their photo ops and for further Tralee parkrunners to rock on up

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There was quite a multitude!

I feel I’ve really missed a marketing opportunity here!  It was a fair old pop up party going on at Elisabeth’s Corner today.  Eventually I saw a huge Tralee contingent, festooned with flags, weighed down with cards and coming round just ahead of the tail walker.  It was lovely. They presented cards, posed with photos, said lovely things.  All very touching to behold.

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Don’t worry though dear reader, she did her best not to neglect her regular runners, there were high-fives and waves a-plenty. It really is the best thing ever about parkrun, the feel good waves that radiate outwards.  Good will doesn’t weaken as it disperses, it magnifies.

be kind

‘In a world where you can be anything be kind’ is a good motto, and for me at least, parkrun personifies that ethos.  Kindness cubed and magnified in all directions.  Excellent multi-tasking going on there though, I’m sure you’ll agree, with waving at oncoming runners happening whilst simultaneously greeting those already present.  Look on in wonder and learn dear reader.  Impressive eh?

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So, I’d pretty much ground to a halt now, and the tail runners were coming round.  Now, I’ve been wanting to meet some of this fine cohort for a while now, as I keep seeing them in photos with my mum, and feel therefore like I know them even though we’ve never met.  I decided today was the day, and ended up walking round with the tails, which are multiple here at Bushy parkrun and all the better for it. The back of the pack is often the fun factory of any event in my experience, and Bushy parkrun is no exception.  It was really grand to walk and talk and share some laughs along the way too.  Love parkrun!

Said farewell to the marshals at Elisabeth’s corner as they dispersed once the tail walkers had come through

and then I sort of split my time between trotting ahead with the Tralee parkrunners for a bit, and then dropping back to chit-chat with the tails.  Busy, busy, busy.  The sun was out, the park looked gorgeous, as it always does to be fair, but I was so pleased that the weather smiled on tourists and home runners alike.

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Yes, of course we posed for photos along the way:

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and I stopped to snap a few marshals, not sure I got the full set, but my I-spy book of parkrun marshals sticker book is pretty full:

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and on we romped

Until finally the finish funnel was in sight

and I stormed(ish) through, feeling like a winner, because everyone’s a winner at parkrun right?  Having a personal worst just means I got best value for time out on the course.  It was an emotional run, so much positivity, so much parkrun love, so much all round awesomeness.

and then ‘suddenly’ it ends. Only it doesn’t really, post parkrun celebrations were everywhere, cakes being doled out, prosecco poured, and cheery laughter permeating the park.

As one poster said, if Carlsberg did mornings…

if carlsberg did mornings

Until finally, we dispersed, and I headed back to my mum’s to admire her latest lot of cards, birthday cards this time, to complement the Christmas stash, all of which absolutely delighted her, as they did me. Thank you lovely parkrun people.

and that was that.  Job done, til next time.  Which pleasingly, would be tomorrow, with the monthly Bushy junior parkrun. Hurrah!  Two days on the trot with my lovely TpoTers.  Life is good.  🙂

#loveparkrun

Miss it.  Miss out. Just sayin!

HW atmosphere

Oh, and there is an official run report for Bushy parkrun event 774 2 feb 2019 here.

and an even lovelier one for the following week giving details of all the Bushy parkrun marshal points including Elisabeth’s corner for the 9th Feb report. Love this.

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

G-plan perfection, Gallumphing and Galloping at Glorious Glossop parkrun

Digested read: parkrun tourism took me to Glossop parkrun.  The locals were lovely, the park fine.  I’ve bagsied my final ‘G’ for the Stayin’ Alive challenge.  My work is done. Look, taken a while though:

stayin alive parkruns

Unabridged version: (you may need a cup of tea, or some other sustenance of your choosing if you venture to read on)

I’ve been caught out before, being slow on the uptake.  Many, many times to be fair.  It’s not even a surprise anymore, but on the plus side, I get to endure personal mortification so  you don’t have to, and hilarity postponed ’til the penny drops later on is still hilarious, and we all need more laughter in our lives surely?  Unless it’s the manic laughter that is unending torment, we don’t want too much of that, reminds me of laughing clowns at seaside piers (do they even still exist) they are terrifying.  Oh my god they are, at Blackpool at least.  Shudder.

I was thinking more of the time when Plusnet finally sorted out my internet connection following  a house move (took 5 months, don’t ask) and I said, completely innocently and relieved (not like that) ‘I do like a happy ending!’ and he gave a filthy prolonged chortle, causing me to google later and then facepalm in mortified realisation.  It’s so hard being me.  I have laid my own traps though, on finding someone landed on my blog using the search term ‘dogging in Endcliffe park’, my they must have found my parkrun posts disappointing in the extreme. I did a post especially for them, entitled – imaginatively I think – Dogging in Endcliffe Park.  It didn’t get quite the enthusiastic response I was fondly imagining, but it pleased me, that’s the main thing.  So today, I did contemplate doing a post all about finding the perfect G spot, but I have bottled it come to my senses.  I was minded of a brief initiative way back in the day when I was working in adult careers guidance in the community, and the company briefly toyed with the notion of having posters encouraging locals to ‘find their G(uidance) spot, but after much inward chortling, this was mercifully ditched.  Anyways, the upshot is that instead, this post is all about perfecting my G Plan, and why not?  Why not indeed.

Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about?  Well parkrun obvs, in general but also Running Challenges in particular. Have you come across the chrome extension thingamajig yet.  It shouldn’t matter but it’s addictive and genius.  Basically you get badges (not even real ones, but virtual ones) that appear on your parkrun profile as you accomplish certain things e.g. running on Christmas Day you get a Christmas Tree, do marshalling roles, you get the relevant hi-vis vest.  Yes, it’s childish to go for running challenges badges, but guilty as charged.  This chrome extension toy has been a parkrun game changer.  Before I downloaded it a few weeks back I didn’t even know the Stayin’ Alive challenge was a thing, but once I did, well, it was only a matter of time before I went in search of the final missing letter ‘G’ to complete my quest for this beauty:

runner-stayin-alive

There is a particular irony that the Stayin’ Alive challenge – to run three Bees and three Gees (see what they’ve done there) actually is missing a G itself as expressed.  However, this was apt, as at the moment of discovery I found I’d inadvertently already got Three Bees and two Gees and what’s more, a G was within reach, at Glossop parkrun, not too far from Sheffield, albeit we are separated by the to me rather scary prospect of navigating the Snake Pass.

I could do this, next weather window, I’d be off, I’d take on that Snake Pass, others have scarier routes to work.  If these Chinese children can climb down 800m of wooden ladders to get to school, I can drive on a windy road.

climb down to school

After another night of chronic insomnia, as I was awake at 4.00 anyway and there was no ice forecast or visible, today was the day – all being well – I’d nail the Bee Gee triple.  Yay, go me!  Anyone would aspire to claiming a bit of this:

I may look like I dressed in the dark, with my pinkish top, yellow cow buff and luminous orange TpoT (thank you kind parkrunners of Tralee) beanie, but I like to think that such colour choices were by way of homage to the Bee Gees costumiers.

Also, point of information,  I did get dressed in the dark.  Fortunately, my orange buff, which makes me one of but a few honorary Tralee parkrunners on Tour, was easy to pick out.  It’s practically its own light source.   Probably radioactive.  Does anyone else remember playing with that radioactive slime back in the seventies, it was amazing!  That and picking at asbestos mats with a compass during chemistry lessons, and watching the little glass like fragments glitter in the dull light of a classroom before we inhaled them. …  Amazing any of us survived to adult hood really, miraculous indeed.

Where was I? Oh yes, I love Tralee parkrunners, if it wasn’t for them, I’d never have gone to Berlin Hasenheide parkrun for one thing, but more importantly, I’d never have met such a cheery, pathologically friendly collective of awesome parkrunners. They aren’t just great ambassadors for Tralee, Ireland, parkrunners etc but for humankind itself.  I love you guys!  The buff was an unexpected new year gift.  Today was its first outing.  How very apt!

tpot classic shot

So, up early, out the door in the dark and off along the Snake Pass.  Although it wasn’t icy, that is still a scary road. The Stayin’ Alive challenge kicked off earlier than I’d have liked, with an aggressive driver tailgating me with lights on full beam for what seemed like miles, why it couldn’t/ wouldn’t just overtake I don’t know, then when it did, it sat on the arse of another poor driver, just ahead of me, equally stuck and exasperatingly flashing its lights, I kept expecting to see them both go flying into a ditch.  It was horrible.  I know the speed limit is 50 mph, but that isn’t a requirement, just a limit, and with bends, and dark, and standing water and fog up top I wasn’t going to be bullied into losing control up there.  It did put me off doing the drive again any time soon though.  Fortunately, (some would say) dear reader, I made it. Hurrah!

I followed the satnav which took me alongside Manor Park, on Manor Park Rd, in Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 7SH.  Unfortunately, there was no access to the park from here, and I was thrown into temporary confusion as I cruised on by, I turned around further up the road and slowly drove past to find this helpful sign, and also was encouraged by the unmistakable sign of parkrun paraphernalia beyond the iron gateway. Phew.

I crawled back onto the A57, covered the required 200 metres until you get to a mini roundabout, and to be fair, there is a sign there for parking, but it wasn’t immediately obvious.  I was glad I’d allowed some extra time to get there.  There seemed to be a fair bit of parking, and it was free.  I get the impression that locals walk, bike or jog to this park, and it seemed to be mainly tourists using their cars.  I shared a quick hello with one, and we shared mutual confusion about location of loos, she headed off to recce that, whilst I went to photograph the mini roundabout and signage, in case you dear reader don’t know what those things are.  I also attempted a selfie, but I think my camera is dying, it protested.  Shame, but I promised my Tralee parkrunner comrades a TpoT hat-wearing selfie, and I shall honour that promise, blurred if need be:

One advantage of having followed the satnav earlier, albeit erroneously, is that it gave me some idea where to head to join the start.  Also, early course set up volunteers had laid out some directional arrows already, so that was fine and dandy.  The park is small it seems, but perfectly formed, and full of interest with twisty turny bits, formal gardeny bits, water flowing bits, hilly bits and even muddy bits. Proper tree root muddy, as well as the expected tarmac paths.  I took some pics of the empty course in case I was moving too fast and furiously to do so later.  It looked really promising, much nicer than I’d imagined when I’d read it was to be a three lapper late last night.  I’m on record as not really liking multi-lap courses, but this had too much potential interest what with uppy down bits as well, to incur tedium.  Even actual mud.  I would be right at home.  Hurrah!  Glad I got my trail shoes though.  My innov8 are my go to shoes, but I should probably conserve them a bit as they won’t last for ever if I keep using them on roads.  Oh well, a worry for another day, today they were just fine and dandy thanks for asking.

So, I made the location for the start, and was reunited with my fellow tourist, who directed me to the loos and then went off on a warm up lap. I wonder if I’ll spontaneously do that one day?  The loos were great, part of a lovely building that I think is also the club house for what looks like a fine bowling green.  No queues, toilet paper, and a hand washing machine that lets you choose when you want the liquid soap, water or hot air so you don’t stand around gormlessly out of synch waiting for it to finish and restart a cycle like the ones at Graves Park.  Such a relief, in every sense, when you are able to execute a precautionary pee without scouting out the undergrowth and risking bringing your running club or worse yet, parkrun itself, into disrepute.  Oh, and I really liked the toilet floor.  Is that weird?  Something about the layers of colours, it was like contemporary art, plus, they were absolutely spotless, so whoever maintains them, I salute you!

So then there was the obligatory milling and chilling and slightly self-conscious hanging arounding.  The cow cowls (yellow buffs) are handy for labelling people you can approach to talk to, though most parkrunners will oblige with chit-chat in my experience, unless they already know me of course, then they may avoid eye contact and run, run I tell you, whilst they still can. That’s just with me though, don’t be deterred.

In amongst the mob though, I made a sighting.  A Sheffielder, also on tour, and a fellow Graves park junior regular on the volunteering roster.  He was calling in on Glossop en route to some sporting fixture or other.  I explained (badly and ineffectually) about the chrome extension thing and the lure of completing the Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive challenge.  I fear that I lost credibility entirely but then failing to list which were the other Bees and Gees I’d already done.  I listed the Gees ok (Gedling and Graves) but was stumped with the Bees, remembering only eventually, Brierly forest parkrun, then  Barnsley parkrunBarnsley, which was lovely to be fair, but how could I forget my many jaunts to  Bushy parkrun!  Bushy parkrun – parkrun mecca itself, and yet it entirely slipped my mind. Oops.  I do worry about my capacity to remember things. Obviously I can remember all the mortifying and cripplingly embarrassing things that have happened to me over the previous half century (and a bit) of life lived to date, but important stuff, like parkrun venues and why I went into a particular room escape me.  It’s a mystery.  How I manage to live independently I have no idea.

I strongly suspect he was trying to travel incognito, as he seemed to have swapped his usual glorious technicolor outfits for a more subtle green number.  I outed him though.  It was nice to see a friendly face.  Of course we took photos of each other, what else would you expect us to have done?  I’m now wondering if I did the right thing, outing him as being at Glossop on social media, despite him travelling in disguise, but then again, surely anyone would agree he was guilty of some contributory negligence what with coming over voluntarily to say hello…

Oh, and here he is in his more usual running attire –

– you can see how I nearly missed him.  Or maybe he just likes to accessorize depending on his location. There are definitely reds in the dog agility course behind him in picture one, and khaki dark bushes in the background of picture two.  Hmm, a certain sartorial elegance in both though, and that is the main thing, the main thing after don’tforgetyourbarcode #dfyb

I took some more pictures, well just because.  Nice displacement activity, and more acceptable than lying on your back and following feline etiquette licking yourself.  Just trust me on that one, don’t test it out for yourself.  I did however remove my fleece, it was relatively mild, I’m sorry to say I ditched the TpoT hat for the run too, I hope the lovely Tralee folk will understand.  I’d got a bag and asked about the informal bag drop.  There seemed to be a table where bags had gathered. Turns out – and this is an innovation I’ve not seen since Christmas Day parkrun at Concord a couple of years back  – it seems you leave stuff here, outside the loo block, and it magically relocates to near the finish by some sort of teleporting (I like to think) or possibly by a weary volunteer heroically lugging it. This service may not be sustainable if numbers grow, but was a boon today. Thank you pack-horse volunteer whoever you were, you are an absolute star!

Look at all the lovely people beginning to gather.  Lifts the heart.

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There was a cheery run briefing, usual shout outs for milestones and requests for tourists to identify themselves.  Some from Sheffield and further afield had already identified themselves, so I just shuffled awkwardly.  I’m unsure of tourist etiquette, I feel acknowledgements should go to those further afield, also, I’d probably already drawn far too much attention to myself with all that brazen blurred photographing.  The shout for ‘off’ caught me by surprise, especially as by placing myself towards the front of the run director’s briefing, I’d inadvertently also placed myself near the front of the start line up.  Mahoosive oops.  I sprinted off as best I could and then breathlessly leapt aside to let faster runners stream by and to take some action shots, because I could, sort of. They aren’t in the league of proper parkrun photographers (you all know who you are) but show willing eh?

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Hang on, probably as well to give you the official course blah de blah before going on any further with my own idiosyncratic description.  According to the Glossop parkrun official website page the course is described thus:

Course Description

This is a three lap course, starting from next to the tennis courts near the Manor Park Road entrance. The route heads north along the main path through the park, and over the stream, where the path turns left, and climbs on a relatively rough path, before descending towards the duck pond. The route then circles round the duck pond anti-clockwise, and then crosses over the bridge to enter the walled garden, taking a clockwise route round the walled garden, and exits back to the main field, turns right alongside the mini-railway track and the bowling greens, and down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, the route turns left off the path to enter the wooded area, and climbs the hill on the off-road trail, and then re-joins the path, and returns to the start point. After the third lap, the course will continue to finish on the left hand side of the main path
Due to the uneven nature of some of the sections of the route, the course is unfortunately unsuitable for buggies or wheelchairs.

and the course map looks like this:

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and you know what?  It’s really nice.  It’s like a proper park, manicured bits, and woody bits and full of interest.  It’s not an especially crowded run, though inevitably with three laps there is an even greater likelihood of getting lapped if you are slower like me or having to lap others if you are fast like, well like whoever the fast runners are.  They are usually running too fast for me to recognise them.  However, it was good-natured, and although the loopy-loop nature of the course made it a bit unclear whether you should keep left or right, I just tucked myself in under the undergrowth when I heard the familiar thud of faster feet closing on  me. This happens to me a lot, so my ear is finely tuned to pick up on such sonic clues.

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There were the obligatory super-friendly marshals on hand to point and clap and offer encouragement. Thanks to all of you, you were without exception glorious and gorgeous to behold, sorry my camera lens does not do you all the justice you deserve…

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Even though it’s a three lapper, there was so much of interest all around, it didn’t feel like a repetitive course.  I really liked it.  Plus, I enjoyed getting glimpses of faster runners whizzing on ahead, I tried for some atmospheric shots… I know, but it’s the thought that counts.

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I also pulled over to let faster runners pass, just as my very own undercover comrade was whizzing past, just shows, he can run, but he can’t hide.  Ha!

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First couple of laps I was a bit stop start, as those photos wouldn’t take themselves, and it’s a fun way to take your time on a parkrun, remove the pressure and frankly, commit to memory parkruns that otherwise are in danger of morphing together over time. Sad, sacrilegious to say even, but alas true.  Some fine sights though, look:

Other runners were good value of course.  Loved the flashing arm bands sported by one runner.  Then there was the mother and son who leapfrogged me from time to time en route.  She commented to me her son would have been much faster if he was old enough to run unimpeded unaccompanied by her.  But he said, and this was just lurverly, and quite a fine exemplar of parkrun spirit ‘that’s ok I really don’t mind‘.  Isn’t that just great, so impressive.

For the final lap, I had more chatty times, getting the low down of the route from two locals who run each week and the very fine Buster who was apparently having a more leisurely run than usual.  This parkrun scored very highly for friendly interactions along the way.  I normally don’t ever talk and run, largely because I can’t, but it was really ok here, encouraging even.  Also, one runner stopped to give way to me at one point, confusing me with a faster runner, so that was good, if misguided. To be fair I think the runner in question had overdone it so was seeing everything in a blur at the time, but nice to think I can be taken for a faster runner from time to time, even if only in error.  No such luck passing the finish funnel though, nobody called me across thinking I’d already done three laps on the first or second passing, which is especially odd as I most definitely looked finished by the end of lap two..

Eventually, run done, did a join sprint finish with one of my new best friends, until he held back to let me cross the line first.  Barcode scanned in record time, job done.  Stayin’ Alive virtual badge added to my profile.  Rich parkrun spoils indeed.  Plus, it was all most companionable.  Time for a few shots of my running compatriots various and to cheer the final runners in:

And then gazed in admiration at the parkrun hi-vis heroes as they cleared up, including, folding up the little bag cave that shelters parkrunners belongings at the finish line.  Yes, my bag had teleported there as if by magic.  Excellent service throughout at this parkrun, nice attention to detail too.  There were even biscuits on offer at the finish line, though I declined.  I won’t say I wasn’t tempted, but don’t want to get into that habit.  Thanks though, sustenance offers always greatly appreciated.

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So thank you friendly Glossop parkrun people in general and hi-vis heroes in particular.  Such a warm welcome and interactive parkrunners.  It was great.  I hope to come back someday soon.

All the volunteers at parkruns everywhere are amazing, mind you, gotta hand it to this family though, literally as well as metaphorically demonstrating that many hands make light work.  Meet the Hand family of Australia (I daresay other hand families are available, but not on hand right here right now) who today, took on all 14 of the volunteering roles at their Nepean River parkrun back on 22 December 2018  How amazing is that?

many hands make light work australia parkrun nepean river

That’s right, pretty goddarned amazing that’s how!  Check out their Hand parkrun story here.   They look like they could dole out a mean high-five sequence do, with height gradings and everything.  Respect.

Milling and chilling at the end, I met some other parkrun tourists.  The cow cowl is good like that.  I possibly wouldn’t have got chatting otherwise, so  shout out to Heaton parkrunners, hopefully see you on your home patch soon. But thanks for the recommendations for Lyme and the tip-off re Watergrove parkrun, Rochdale – which apparently is almost like a fell run, sounds fab!  On my to do list most definitely now.  Just been stalking their Facebook page, the pictures look amazing.  Here are the posed shots, and what a lovely trio we are indeed.  Good luck with your 50th different destination run.  That’s quite something.  We are weirdly colour coordinated too.  What are the chances eh, what are the chances?  With and without TpoT hat, just because.

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parkrun tourism is fab!  So many places still to go, people to see, parkrunners to meet.  This northernmost parkrun in the UK has some serious appeal though… one day I’ll get to Bressay parkrun, surely a parkrun involving a ferry crossing is almost a triathlon!

bressay parkrun

For now though, time to pack up and go home.  Shame the miniature railway wasn’t operational, that would have been a neat finish.

And that was that, back home via the Snake Pass, which was breathtaking with its views and really made me want to get back out and running on the trails again.  It’s been too long, and it is blooming lovely in them there hills, and they aren’t going to run themselves now are they?

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and just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, or more glorious in its parkrun loveliness, whilst I was running(ish) at Glossop, my mum was getting 90th birthday high-fives and selfie shots with members of my lovely Smiley Paces running club, some of whom are currently on tour London Way and taking in Bushy parkrun along the way.  #loveparkrun #lovesmileypaces 🙂

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.  Bit of a time vampire, if you do, you might be stuck on the sofa for a while, ‘just researching options’.  Hmm.

Happy running in general and parkrunning in particular until next time.

🙂

 

 

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

Ich bin ein Berliner?** Becoming an international athlete courtesy of TpOT and Hasenheide parkrun Berlin :) OMG!

Digested Read:  First foray into international tourism took me to Hasenheide parkrun in Germany.  Might be easier just to think of it as Berlin parkrun.  It was just like a ‘normal’ parkrun but in Germany, and surrounded by the Tralee parkrun family draped in the Irish tricolour!  How brilliant is that!  Who knew?

tpot classic shot

Unabridged account:

The undigested read is kind of complicated.  Sooooooooooooooooo very much I want to say, to be honest, you might find it a bit much to listen to it, but I won’t notice if you want to go off and do something and pop back later when I’ve run out of steam, could be a while though.  You’ve got time to make and drink a cup of tea, walk the dog and defrost the fridge.  If you don’t already have a dog, you’ve probably even got time to research which dog you’d like to adopt, argue with your family and friends about which might be the best fit, visit it, book in a home visit, wait for it to have its vaccinations and finally go and collect it and let it settle in over night before taking it out for the walk,  but it’s up to you.  If it’s cold outside you might be just in the mood for sitting on the sofa, watching TV whilst idly reading a random blog post in between scratching yourself and eating crisps, each to their own.

If I was in a position to re-home a dog, I think I’d currently go with Scamp, I can really relate to having awkwardly shaped hobbit feet and aspiring to achieve sole occupancy of a most capacious looking sofa, I think we’d get on fine.  Might need to organise a two-sofa household, but that’s doable…

SCamp

So this was the weekend when I took my parkrun career to new heights by going international.  Berlin parkrun to be specific.  Hurrah!  There’s more to it than that though, isn’t there always?  It all began way, way back in the mists of time, about this time last year to be fair.  About the time my mum became launched as a parkrun icon.  Hopefully you know about that already, or we really are in for a long one.  Basically, my mum got featured in one of the parkrun uk news posts because at 89 she is a regular fixture on the Bushy parkrun route as she walks across from the care home where she lives to clap and cheer parkrunners every Saturday morning.  One of the regular parkrunners had dropped off a Christmas card for her, and mum was super chuffed to receive it.  She has been made an honorary marshal in recognition of her support, and even has her own hi-viz – I know of only one other marshal to have been honoured in this way.  Quite rightly, her spot on the route has become known as ‘Elisabeth’s Corner’ and is about the half way mark if you are visiting to complete your parkrun pilgrimage and inclined to pause for a selfie.  Anyways, on the back of her becoming a media sensation, Tralee parkrunners, who I now know are inclined to go off en masse for parkrunning related adventures, had already planned a Tralee trip to Bushy parkrun for early in the new year.  Unfortunately, when they went, my mum was poorly, but undeterred, they nipped over to the care home on the off-chance they’d get to see her anyway, and they did!  They showered her with good wishes and gifts. They’d wanted a photo to capture the occasion and set about trying to find someone before my mum interjected with the now legendary words ‘why not just take a quick selfie?’.  And they did – hang on, let me see if I can find it…

selfie tralee

There you go.  Isn’t that just lovely?  From hereon-in a legend was born and new friendships forged. The Tralee team contacted me and kindly sent me the image as well as the anecdote – I don’t honestly know which is more priceless, the photo, or the selfie request.  My mum has indeed come a long way from the first time someone tried to high-five her and she shook their hand instead, she’s a total pro now.  Can do high tens and everything:

mum kudos

Fast forward, and a few Facebook messages and emails later I found I not only had a framed photo of some ‘random’ people I’d never met on the mantelpiece in my living room, but also an invitation to join the TpOTs (that’s Tralee parkrunners On Tour) at a future time, specifically Berlin parkrun, which we all now know and love as Hasenheide parkrun, later in the year.  I thought about this a lot.  I mean, it’s silly really, getting on a plane and flying hundreds of miles to run 5k with a bunch of people you’ve never met… and then I thought, but why wouldn’t I?  How much fun would be had?  And anyway, for all those who think Germany might be a very long way to go ‘just’ to run/walk/jog 5k (unless you live in Germany already I suppose) two points:  Firstly, you are clearly not a parkrunner so will never understand though I hope one day you’ll come join the party and secondly) what is even more peculiar is people who go all the way on holiday to e.g. Germany (other destinations are available) for no reason at all, and therefore miss out on doing a parkrun.  Upshot was, I was in.  Accommodation booked, flight booked, we shall make it so.

I didn’t think about it all that much until a few days before departure.  I was a bit apprehensive, first time as an international athlete, and no idea what to expect, plus there was the burden of packing all that was needed.  Never, ever has it been more important to attend to this:

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I remembered mine, which is a minor miracle as I had to keep unpacking it to make sure I really hadn’t forgotten to pack it, thereby increasing the likelihood of leaving it behind as it was now removed from my case.  In the end I wore it – I have one of those original wrist bands, which are fabulous by the way.  Pricey, but has always scanned.

It’s ages since I’ve left the UK, and I’ve never travelled to Germany before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I’m always a bit apprehensive arriving in new countries alone, especially towards the end of the day.  I’m by no means an experienced traveller, but generally I try to arrive at new destinations in daylight and at the start of a day as it gives time to sort out any hiccups.   However, I can report that for all practical matters, obviously, the best way to undertake any international parkrun tourism is to get yourself fostered by Tralee parkrun, and just gatecrash their plans.  Worked for me.  They have their systems totally nailed and look out for one another too.

I did have to book my flight independently as I was travelling from Manchester rather than Kerry, but EasyJet were passable, and I got flights that broadly arrived and departed at the same time as their coach load – or more accurately plane load – of travellers was due.  Unfortunately, their flights subsequently changed which meant the expected meet up was no longer a given.  Originally I’d been landing 15 minutes before them, so figured I’d seek them out and follow them to the hotel, now they’d be arriving first.  Curses.  My flight was fine  My pilot was even awake enough not to overshoot the airport by dint of being asleep for example, which is apparently not a given on all aviation travels – check out this article ‘Asleep pilot missed destination in Australia if you don’t believe me and aren’t worried about being made too scared to ever fly anywhere ever again (though that would be better for the environment to be fair.’  I’d only got carry on luggage so it was super speedy emerging from the terminal, and then, as I stepped out into arrivals I saw the best thing ever.  It looked like this:

welcome to Berlin

A customised sign being brandished by a gang of broadly smiling, pathologically friendly and welcoming Tralee parkrunners.  They had made their way to find me and waited to greet me – particularly impressive as we’d arrived at different terminals.  It was the best thing ever!  In my half century of years I’ve only ever once before been met on arrival at an airport and it was wonderful.  I might have got something in my eye, not for the last time this trip either.   They not only had a sign, but the mobile phone displaying my name was playing Lucy themed music!  You can’t get very much more fabulous than that.  I felt quite the celebrity.  Plus, it was brilliant not to have to fathom the transport network and route to the hotel on my own.  Rather I could just parasitise the labours of this dream team, and all would be well.  Although we hadn’t really met before, well not all of them, a satellite mission to Graves junior parkrun and Bakewell earlier in the year had introduced me to some, we just went straight in for the parkrun family hugs.  Well, it would be weird to do otherwise after having shared my front room with at least two of them for nearly a year now.

I exchanged my pre-purchased 72 hour Visit Berlin Welcome pass for a physical ticket and guide book.  A wheeze well worth doing by the way, though make sure if you arrive at Schonefeld Airport you get the Berlin ABC Ticket. A,B and C are the different zones, and our airport was in Zone C.  An absolute bargain though, for duration of our trip, the 72 hour ticket costs €30.90, plus you get a map on arrival and a load of discounts on tourist attractions.  They’d worked out the route to our hotel, I just followed.  Good to know though, there is always time for a photo op, here I am surrounded by my welcoming committee and new best friends forever.  I look somewhat ruffled from my travels, they are glorious and gorgeous, radiating warmth and enthusiasm for the adventure ahead.

The journey to our hotel was very straightforward.  From the airport train station, there was an overground train to Hermanstraße, which took about 26 minutes. Then we changed and got the ‘true’ underground train for 2 stops to Boddinstraße. The hotel was about a 5 minute walk from there.  However, I only know this because I sheep like trotted along behind the person who had the right app on their phone to direct us. Which was fine until his battery went flat, and then fine again when the day was saved by the speedy production of a back up charger.  Tralee parkrunners are prepared for anything. I’d go so far as to say I’d feel safe with them anywhere and would happily follow them to the ends of the earth if they’d let me, though we may have to take it in stages starting with Berlin and with Denmark and Sweden to aspire to in 2020.

Although the main group of 100+ Tralee parkrunners had gone on ahead, we actually caught up with them in the hotel foyer where some were still good-naturedly queuing for their rooms.  They did everything good-naturedly though, so that can be taken as their default demeanour.  So it was I joined the Tralee parkrun crew to the Mercure Hotel near Tempelhof Airport (site of the Berlin air lift).  The hotel had revolving doors.  What more do you need to know?

Oh, and you had haribos in your room which was a nod to running clothes deliveries from wiggle so quite cool, even though I’m vegetarian so they aren’t really my thing, and they had a penchant for serving things in jam jars – humus and soup in the instance above.  What is that about and when will it stop?  I blame hipsters, even though I still don’t know quite what they are.

So, the logistical stuff.  It was great location being a short walk from the parkrun start, and a few hundred yards away from the nearest underground at Boddinstraße Berlin,had revolving doors (always a boon), and a breakfast that had my eyes popping out on stalks with its many and varied possibilities.  Without a parkrun to entice me outside, I could happily have spent all day there just grazing until I burst unceremoniously.  Fantastically quiet in the room too, so I’d recommend that option. It’s not a budget option but not unreasonable either if you book far enough in advance.

I actually arrived on the Thursday night, so Friday was free for exploring Berlin. That should really be another whole story. What I will say is that I did an Insider walking tour for ten euros that was in English,  completely brilliant and a good 5 hours duration.  Berlin is an amazing and fascinating city, albeit it obviously has a bleak and disturbing history.  Made me wish I’d allowed more time, and that I knew my history a bit better.  The underground was really easy to negotiate, but it was bitterly cold.  I can’t resist including a few pics, but I will resist the temptation to tell you all about it in detail.  I know, you can barely contain your disappointment, but you are doing a grand job of disguising it all the same…  I will get to the parkrun stuff eventually.  Think of this delayed gratification as just part of building up the suspense.  It’s going to be so worth it when you get to the climax I promise!*

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There’s just so much I don’t know about Berlin.  Not least why the armadillo has made the little boy cry or why balloons are kept in captivity there.  Still, plenty to discover for another time.  The double cobblestones mark the line of the Berlin wall by the way, that photo wasn’t an accident.  It was a sensory, emotional, cultural, historical and cognitive overload.  My head was spinning by the end, but well worth it, given limited time I’d 100% recommend it to anyone as a first stop to get your bearings and a sense of the city.

Then, finally it was parkrun eve, and in the morning it would be Berlin parkrun day.  Oh.  My.  Gawd!  So exciting.

I woke early.  The view outside my bedroom window was not promising, and it did look even colder than the day before, it being still dark and with an ‘end of the world’ type fog enclosing our glass towered sanctuary.

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Breakfast was from 6.30 and I went and had coffee – an absolute revelation, proper coffee here, not the undrinkable offerings you get at most UK hotels – and a small bowl of porridge.  So hard to resist the temptation to face-plant into the smorgasbord of delights on offer, but I consoled myself with the knowledge I’d have tomorrow too.

We weren’t far from the park, but I had no idea where we were going so made my way down to reception to go with the mass exodus around 8.15.  Oh my, it was so exciting, emerging from the lifts into the foyer of the hotel and to see sights like this:

You just know you are about to embark on a fun morning when you are greeted with the view of a mystery figure in a shamrock morph suit first thing, surrounded by a sea of apricot parkrun shirts.  I was a little shy, because what with the Irish flags and mutual greetings all around it was indeed Tralee parkfunners on tour, this dear reader was quite literally an entire parkrun, decamped to a new destination.  Everyone knew everyone.., apart from me.  I shouldn’t have worried however, not only was everyone intrinsically friendly and open, I had forgotten I was of course a celebrity by association.  My  new best friends introduced me to their fellow parkrunners, explaining ‘you know Elisabeth at Bushy parkrun?  This is her daughter’.  Smiles widened, arms opened to embrace me, faces lit up.  It was amazing.  Is it bad that I’m ever so slightly regretting not having done the whole grumpy cat thing with my  mum and sorting out some souvenir merchandise in advance to have brought with me.  I mean, not to sell, after all, if Mr S-H himself has held back from exploiting parkrun for personal financial gain I’m not about to sell my own mother on the back of it, but I mean to give as gifts in order to ingratiate myself to others, a fine key ring perhaps, or a signed photo would have gone a long way to thank all these lovely people for their warm welcome and including me in this amazing adventure.  It was extraordinary.  How famous is she?  #loveparkrun #loveElisabethscorner

Once we’d formed a loose assembly, on some invisible signal, the migration began and the exodus commenced as we were disgorged through the revolving doors onto the streets of Berlin:

I don’t know if spiderman was particularly attracted by a fellow donner of a morph suit of if he was also just out for parkrun too.  Takes some balls to wear a morph suit I think, but that was OK, our shamrock man had an accompanying juggler to carry some, as you do, so that was all right then.

Hilariously, although it was but a short walk to the park, within seconds half the group was heading off the wrong way up the street and had to be called back into the herd. Actually, after I got to know the area a bit better I think you probably could have done either route, but it was still laugh out loud funny at the time.  The phrase herding cats springs to mind.  Alternatively, think ball bearings scattering across an ice rink and you’ll get the idea.  Still, ball bearings with cohesive instincts, as we did somehow regather, maybe mercury would be a better analogy, breaking apart and them coming together as one mass again once in touching distance from one another.

Anyhows, eventually regathered, we soon came to the park entrance and its associated photo opportunities.  Have you any idea how exciting this moment was?  It was a.maz.ing!  Look, that’s me, by a sign in German in the actual park where the Hasenheide parkrun takes place!

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We wended our way into the park to the assembly point.  What was really extra exciting (and it’s hard to imagine that excitement could continue to build I was on such a high) was as we approached the start we could see what were clearly parkrun signs, but IN GERMAN!

And another thing. These TpOT troupers, Tralee parkrunners On Tour, is that they are absolute pros at this kind of thing.  Not only have they cracked the logistics, they’ve cracked the photo op, coming prepared with a fine flag as well as broad smiles and parkrun tops.  I was permitted the very great honour of posing behind one of the flags, as part of my transition into potentially becoming an honorary TpOT perhaps…  Something in my other eye now, it’s just wonderful to feel part of a gang now and again, a benign one like this anyway, I’m not aspiring to join the masons or anything like that.

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That’s some turn out!  Be impressed, be very impressed.

The park itself was surprisingly large and lots of trees and a welcome green space.  My regular reader will know that usually I put high value on there being somewhere around for a pre parkrun precautionary pee.  On this occasion there was nowhere obvious (though I suppose al fresco options are always a possibility).  Astonishingly I was OK, this could be in part that it was so very cold there was a major incentive to keep everything covered up as much as possible. Nobody would want to brave baring their buttocks in sub arctic conditions.  So I was fine, thank you for asking.

There was milling and chilling – literally and metaphorically, also flag draping and spontaneous juggling.  Remember the parkrun rules everyone, respect each person’s right to participate in their own way.

We found the Run Director and his entourage of volunteers.

The gathering point is an under cover sheltered area with a large mural and some benches which provided a useful dumping ground for bags and even some seating as well as protection in the event of rain.  On a serious note, the park appears nice, but is also something of a gathering spot for drug users and others on the fringes of society, so we were advised that you really mustn’t leave any valuables lying around as there are sadly ‘undesirables’ who might opportunistically take things.  On a cheerier note, there was a photo frame Hasenheide parkrun sign so plenty of opportunities for posing for pictures in all possible combinations of characters.  Excellent.  Some were more experienced at this than others, you could tell the old hands by their more creative displays and configurations with the frame.  I was slightly disappointed that someone corrected another tourist who was holding the sign upside down at one point.  Oh well.

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After much milling and chilling, and mutual photographing…

new friends.jpg

eventually the RD called us together for the run welcome. This was excellent, and in both German and English. There were some nice touches, the tourist crowd being so huge, he actually asked if there were any locals running, rather than tourists, and when it came to the briefing it was offered in two groups, one in English and one in German. The German group was but a scattering which was a shame in a way as it needs a local population to be sustainable, but remarkable too.

With their folded arms it makes it look like the parkrunners were a hard to please crowd, but in fact they were just cold. There was a lot of laughing, clapping of volunteers and acknowledgement of running milestones with certificates brought in from Ireland in honour of the occasion.

We were warned about bikes, or more specifically bike riders, who I gather can be well, erm let’s say ‘very focused’ on staying on their paths.  I heard this on my guided walk too, bikes here have super powers and no brakes.  We have been warned.  We were also told to beware of innocent looking lines of leaves, which might be gathered in storm drains, essentially turning them in to tiger traps, or at the very least parkrunner ankle turning traps, which is basically the same thing.  I didn’t notice these anywhere on the course, and then it dawned on me that of course I wouldn’t that’s because the leaves disguise the hazard doh!  It’s amazing I survived the run at all!

For those of you who like the course blah de blah the Hasenheide parkrun website describes the route as follows:

route description

Start and finish are at Café Hasenschänke, near the fairytale playground and the natural theater. The route consists of 2 laps. First, it is 250 m in a westerly direction. At the fork, turn left towards the path that leads around the park.Here, turn right onto the main path, which once passes through the park. After about 1 km you pass a mini-zoo (where, according to Andy, camels can be seen in the summer). In the 2nd round, at kilometer 3, it goes to the right and 200 m up the hill before it goes back to the circular route. At km 4.7, turn right onto the home stretch.

And it looks like this:

hasenheide parkrun

Honestly, I tend to rely on just following other people at parkrun, and hope there will be enough other runners that there will always be at least a couple still in view ahead of me.  This course has marshals too. Even so, I can report dear reader that it’s two laps, but they are non-identical, there’s a loop up a steep hill that you only do the once, unless you weren’t concentrating during the brief, in which case you end up doing it twice.  Oh dear.   Or maybe it was just that route wise, there some runners who were having such a good time, they wanted to put in an extra loop, it’s happened before I gather – Hallam parkrunner you know who you are.  This is by way of contrast to the Shenzhen Half Marathon in China where runners weren’t enjoying it quite so much  it seems and so 250 of them took a short cut.  Wouldn’t happen at parkrun.  Well, maybe the once, with the ill-judged Runners World report, but that’s history now.

For your edification and/or merriment, here is the critical junction which seemed to catch some runners out.

Run briefing over, it was just a matter of migrating the short distance to the start:

and then we were awf!

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I was a bit giddy with it all.  Torn between my desire to get moving pdq in order to warm up, and wanting to consciously store every moment.  I did inevitably have to pause to take pictures along the way, but you know what I’m glad I did, it anchors the memories in your mind.   There was lots to see, we went past an animal farm at one point with spotted guinea fowl just like we have in the enclosure by the lake at Graves Park in Sheffield!  Home from home.  The paths were wide, so it was good for accommodating different speeds of runners without congestion.  There were the usual characters, canicross runners, two guys attending Lee’s stag weekend who jogged along chatting throughout.  I know they were there for Lee, because their T-shirts said so, not because I have psychic powers.  I was a little more mystified by the person running with a bicycle tyre, though another runner seemed to be able to identify the brand and said it was a particularly high-end one.  Can’t say I’m able to verify this one way or another, but I suppose if it was that precious you wouldn’t want to let it out of your sight would you?  There was a juggler, because what is a parkrun without one person doing that and/or a morris dancer or three-legged challenge, and a fancy dress runner and a couple of flags and lots of cow cowls.  Hurrah!  All the fun of the parkrun fair!

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I found the route easy to follow, but can see why people ran the cobbled, comedy mound hill twice, just for the fun of it.  I found a post from someone else who’d run this route earlier in the year and they describe the route thus:

What a fabulous course, with a sort of comedy short hill in the middle which must be in highest point in about a 400 mile radius: you really have to go out of your way to find so much as an incline in Berlin.

A pleasing description I think we can agree.  And much more concise than I am capable of.  Oh well.  You’re still here aren’t you?  Guilty of collusion then, not my fault at all, I told you at the outset what would happen, so you have only yourself to blame for wasting these hours of your life you will never get back.

Of course, the run wouldn’t happen without the volunteers, who were all claps and smiles and words of encouragement.  Also, excellent directional pointing skills, which was important, what with the difference between the two laps.

It all seemed to go a bit more quickly than my usual parkrun, I don’t know why.   Soon, the finish funnel came into view, and flanked by parkrunners already home you could run in to the warm embrace of a parkrun welcome.  There was much cheering, and mutual delight at job done!  There were some fun across the finish line photos too

And then just like at ‘normal’ parkrun, there was the cheering in of the tail walker, and the migration of marshals back to the start/finish as they stood down from their posts.

tpot all done and dusted

All done and dusted.  Waiting for the final finishers, I got chatting to some other tourists who’d rocked up.  One was from Barnsley, which was somewhat surreal, especially as we’d been at the same Barnsley parkrun a few weeks ago when they were celebrating their 400th run.  Small world indeed.  I completely forgot to ask him if he bought anything from the carboot sale.  Oh well.

It was a mass move to the parkrun cafe.  The potential for this cafe was undoubtedly amazing, but they couldn’t really cope with the sudden and unexpected influx of numbers, and truth to tell one of the serving staff looked positively annoyed we’d all turned up.  Despite this, pretty fine cafe options were available, and there was a jovial and companionable mood as we all squashed in together, sharing parkrun stories whilst waiting for our coffees to arrive.

Coffees drunk, conscious the cafe had reserved our tables for others from 11.00 a.m. we departed in groups.  Returning to the hotel was another micro adventure altogether as we all mistakenly assumed someone else in our group knew the way back.  Honestly, I don’t know how it is I manage to survive living independently given my lack of initiative on occasions.  It was entertaining rather that scary, and we did make it back safely in the end you’ll be hugely relieved to hear!

All’s well that ends well eh?  Plus, got to see a fabulous giraffe mural en route, what’s not to like.

So in conclusion, yes Hasenheide parkrun was great.  I didn’t fall into a trap of leaves, I didn’t get run over by a bike or run the cobbled hill twice by mistake. I did have a lovely time, get clapped by marshals and cheered by a departing cani-cross runner and make some new friends on the way round. Hurrah.  It was all a fine parkrun should be.

It seems to be largely an expat affair at the moment, but I think it’s relatively new.  The team were great ambassadors for both parkrun in general and Berlin in particular, coping brilliantly with the large tourist influx – albeit TpOT had pre-warned them they were on their way!  Very welcoming, lovely route, though possibly a park I wouldn’t want to run in on my own.  Obviously, going with Tralee parkrunners added a whole new dimension to the occasion.  I really enjoyed myself – can you tell?  How very empathetic.  Though I  suppose it must be acknowledged that when I said delightedly to one of the other parkrunners ‘it’s just like ‘normal’ parkrun, but in Germany!  How amazing is that!’ he remarked, ‘for me it is just like my usual parkrun, because all the same people are here!’  Which is both pleasing and bizarre I suppose, if you think about it.  Either way, blooming brilliant. Thank you kind parkrunners of Hasenheide, you were awesome!

Thank you mein hosts all!  Of one thing we can be sure, that was awesome running!

tpot awesome indeed

You may be a tad less confident in identifying this picture as a portrait of the runner wearing it, but trust your instincts, you were right all along!  I know, the likeness is uncanny!

tpot uncanny likeness

If you’d like to read the official run report from Hasenheide parkrun you can do so here: Ein großes Dankeschön und toll gemacht an unser Team. Es kommen nicht jede Woche über 100 Iren zu Besuch.  Unser Laufbericht für den 24.11. A thank you to our local runners and volunteers“ ist nun online.

But frankly there is an abundance of reportage about the event, very appropriate and proportionate given the importance of the occasion.  You can read about the Tralee parkrunners left behind in their local run report here  with rhyme and reason too.  Then, because Tralee parkrunners know how to do their mass tourism with considerable aplomb and style, there is the official TpOT (Tralee parkrunners On Tour) Berlin parkrun report as well.  Another fantastic memento of a truly amazing weekend.  Plus, I get a mention in my own right, and can exclusively declare here and now I am officially recognised as eh hem an ‘HTpoTs” – honorary Tralee parkrunner on Tour.  Possibly Undoubtedly the greatest running honour of my entire life!  Tralee parkrunners, I salute you and I thank you.  You are individually and collectively epic, I just hope I get to see you on your home ground some time – assuming I can catch you on a weekend when you aren’t gallivanting off trying to nab another parkrun venue newly discovered to be on the flight path from Kerry Airport!

team photo

Oh, and you get your results email in German, which is very cool, and then if you check out the rest of your profile from that link, that’s all in German too.  Oh my gawd.  May the novelty of this revelation never end!

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And don’t get me started on the wow factor of the running challenges chrome extension – it’s like entering a whole new parkrun wonderland, and perhaps for fuller exploration another time.  Loving the Christmas tree and all-seasons additions that have only just appeared.  Simple pleasures eh?  Be like the clangers people, take time out to smell the roses – appreciate the little things – along the way!

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So, I’m sold on international parkrun tourism.  My ambition for 2020 is the New Year’s Day Double encompassing Denmark and Sweden.  What could possibly go wrong trying to cross a Nordic bridge?  To be fair, if anyone does die en route, as long as you retrieve their barcode and get it scanned I think that would be fine.

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So International parkrun tourism for 2019 then, – who’s in?

#DFYP (Don’t Forget Your Passport) as well as #DYFB (Don’t Forget Your Barcode)

tpot no idea

Get me, now Honorary member of the TpOT.  I’m quite surprised there isn’t a special badge for that on the parkrun chrome extension.  One day maybe.

‘Til next time

Happy parkrunning y’all and auf Wiedersehen

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

*or possibly not.  But tell you what, if you aren’t impressed, you can do your next parkrun for free, any Saturday of your choosing and anywhere in the world.  Can’t say fairer than that now can I?

**I don’t mind if I am a doughnut, as long as it’s a jam-filled one, not a circular one with a hole in it, which everyone knows is an abomination.  For the record though, Wikipedia says that the story is an urban myth. Shame really…  ‘There is a widespread misconception (outside German-speaking countries) that the phrase is incorrect German and in fact means “I’m a doughnut”. It has even been embellished into an urban legend

 

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

Maranoia mended? Running fun rediscovered, but it took a while to come into view…

Digested read:  wasn’t feeling the running lurve today, too cold, too lethargic.  Then I went to Graves junior parkrun and bathed in the parkrun love and then I went for a run which started badly and ended well, and I made a new friend, and I found a running pace and you know what?  Running is fun again!  Yay.  My maranoia might not quite be mended, but it is most definitely in remission, for today…  No doubt normal service will be resumed shortly.

What a difference a day makes eh?  First thing today I was staring into a void of disillusion and despair. If I thought running a marathon seemed an impossible dream 16 weeks ago, roll forward to today and I felt a pang of nostalgia for those dizzy days of rose tinted positivity that induced me to commence training in the first place. Honestly, what was I thinking?  This marathon malarkey is never going to happen.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  The regime I laughingly refer to as my ‘training plan’ appears to have a) led to zero improvement to my running  – in face I’ve got progressively slower, and b) I lost my long run last week due to the aftermath of an ill advised sports massage.  It’s all going horribly wrong!  Woe is me.  I am a failure as a runner, as a human being, in life – the only thing I’m really good at is personalised pity parties.  Bring on the bulk buy hot cross buns and find me a sofa on which to lie and weep the hot, not-very-healing tears of self-indulgent self-pity.  At that at least I may excel…

and then …   lots of running related fun came my way, and now I’m fine and tickety-boo.  No physically  fitter than I was this morning, but a lot more mentally positive.   And they do say a lot of running is in the mind, albeit not all of it unfortunately.   I’m thinking now that I’m just experiencing ‘maranoia‘ the paranoia that I’ll ruin everything in these last few weeks, and probably not even make it to the start of the London Marathon, let alone the finish.  I reckon my maranoia is reasonably severe when it flares up, but I have the kind that goes into occasional spontaneous remission, for this I am thankful.  It is still unpleasant and debilitating though, but hopefully survivable…  Personally, I find what lifts my mood is basically being in complete denial about having to run a marathon, and just doing running related fun things.  One of the saddest Facebook posts I ever read was on some discussion forum somewhere where someone posted that training for London had ‘killed the joy of running’ for them.  I don’t want that to happen to me.  I reckon I’m pretty safe on that score though, I can but dream of being over-trained!

So up early, Easter Sunday and April Fool’s day.  Hurrah.  Grapes disguised as mini creme eggs anyone?

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My roof is leaking again.  That’s not funny.  Seventh leak now since I moved in.  Not a happy bunny.  In fact, not a bunny at all, and not for lack of trying.  It being Sunday, it is of course, junior parkrun day, and it being Easter Sunday I was hoping to rock some bunny ears whilst on marshalling duties.  I tried moderately hard to source some, but to no avail.  The closest I got was in one shop where they said in response to my request ‘no, but we stocked loads of those last year‘.  Not helpful  Really not.  I thought about repurposing my dragonfly wings, but in the end made do with sticking some undersized Easter chicks onto my hat.  It was a start.  Not quite a full on Easter bonnet, but a nod to fancy dress all the same.

Off to Graves park, oh my, how cold was it up there.  I mean, I know it’s a micro-climate of apocalyptic ice-age proportions, but it’s not funny any more.  The return of the Beast from the East isn’t supposed to be until tomorrow.  Fortunately, despite cold weather there were warm hearts.  I trotted off round with a fellow volunteer to set out the course, and that is my favourite job.  It feels purposeful, plus you get a bit of stomp about to get warm, and you can check in on the animals.  I couldn’t help noticing that most of these weren’t game for venturing out, they aren’t stupid, but I still find it calming being in the vicinity of them all.  I mean obviously it would be better if there were goats and warthogs, but the donkey is vocal and entertaining and on dry days the porcines are always up for a companionable scratch.  Not today though.  Having a duvet day.  Those animals that did make it outside weren’t looking overly impressed.  I take their point.

En route with the flags I came across another marshal who was quick enough to not only notice, but also appreciate my Easter chick efforts.  I feel such observational skills should be rewarded, so reached into my pocket to supply her with one of her own, on the understanding it should be sported throughout the run. Dear reader, I’m happy to report she carried out this promise with considerable aplomb.  She is clearly a natural at having a plastic bird sit on her head.  An important life skill I’m sure.  Well, to be fair, it served me well at parkrun today for starters, so you never know when such capabilities may be drawn on.

Once I made it back to the start, which is also the finish

finish funnel

oh joy.  International parkrun celebrities in evidence, all the way from the legend that is Tralee parkrun, and sporting a most excellent array of bunny ears.  My hat chicks were a gesture I suppose, but definitely more minimalist than was appropriate for the occasion.

Tralee parkrun incidentally is quite possibly the most friendly parkrun in the entire world, pathologically so. They have also taken parkrun to tourism to new heights as they head out across the globe, not as little ambassador / special envoys to other parkruns, but en masse.  They quite literally took a plane load of 80 parkrunners to go on pilgrimage to Bushy parkrun back in January – that’s an impressive percentage of their parkrun regulars – their stats as of today say the average number of parkrunners each week is 169 – so that’s half of them.  More really, as numbers fluctuate.  What’s more this wasn’t even a one – off more a trial run.  Next stop Germany.  Plus, they did a Copacabana song and dance tribute to one of their runners / hi-viz heroes on the occasion of his 100th parkrun.  That’s a service not all parkruns are able to offer.  Impressed?  I am.  Let’s hear it for the World’s Best parkrun ambassador indeedy!  They don’t skimp on balloons there either.  Respect.

Anyway, was grand to meet up with the Tralee contingent once again, and swap a few parkrun tales before I headed off to my marshal point.  I was in a different spot to usual, but it was just as much fun.    I got to see the warm up and the start funnel of volunteers all lined up like a human pin ball machine from afar, and watch the runners stream off like ball bearings pouring out of a jar as they scattered down the first hill.

High fiving the runners storming by as they passed by the ponds on the way to the rear entrance to the animal park. There was a respectable turn out of bunny ears, and familiar faces.  Hail fell at one point, but these juniors are made of stern stuff, they stormed round for the most part.

Only glove less accompanying adults looked close to tears…  The official photographer had most definitely lost the use of his  hands by the time he made it back to base, but I consider that to be a sacrifice well worth him making for capturing such glorious shots of our worthy juniors and esteemed visitors alike.  His hands were always at risk of dropping off with frostbite eventually, so it’s just basically grand he got his shots off first.  (Not a euphemism).  There were some fine portraits available for download after today.

As the tail walker traipsed on by, all a-grin, I wandered back to the start in reverse, picking up another bunny eared volunteer en route.   Turns out, a lot of us volunteers were rocking matching looks today, with blue under our hi-viz.  A lack of consistency in head gear perhaps, but individual expression is important too.

We were in time to see the final finishers bombing down the mudslide into which the finish funnel had morphed.  There was a lot of mud.  Soft landings I suppose.  There was some dissent about how many face plants there’d been at the finish, but most estimates were around the five mark, though no tears apparently, so that’s impressive.  My favourite interaction of many this morning though, was when a young runner finished and the scanner asked for her barcode but her parent explained she didn’t have one as she’s currently too young to register being only three!  We were all a bit surprised as she was tall for her age and physically had made easy work of the run.  ‘When will you be four?’ enquired one of our hi-viz number, figuring it couldn’t be that many more weeks away.  Well,  without missing a beat she responded ‘at my next birthday‘  which is quite clearly a genius response with all its unintentionally withering accuracy.  That told him. What a stupid question.  Much hilarity ensued. Grown ups can be so dumb sometimes.  She was very polite to give a civil response at all in the circumstances! Ha-de-ha indeed.

The course was dismantled as if by magic, and soon there was nothing but memories and muddy footprints where once the parkrun had been.  I was lured to the cafe by the promise of latte and a final chance to debrief with our lovely Irish visitors.  I was supposed to be heading out for a long run later – the forecast for tomorrow being heavy snow I really did have to get out today, but I figured there was time.  But the cafe was cosy, the company fine. The tales varied.  The Tralee junior tourists really made me laugh by telling me that their mum was so passionate about parkrun that any potential partners would have to pass the ‘but do they have a barcode’ test.  If they did, a criminal record or similar misdemeanours would be no barrier, but no barcode, well, no result.  We regular parkrunners all know that!  Sounds a fair enough criteria to me!  We had to talk about Lily the wonder dog, we had to pose for every possible variant of selfie and group photos.  Those pictures won’t take themselves.

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Then there was other chat about Bob Graham plans.  There is a reason why this should be run in a clockwise direction I now know.   Not that I’m likely to have to try this out for myself, but it’s nice to keep informed on such matters.

Upshot was, I didn’t get back until almost 12.

Now what.  I needed to get out, but it was arctic blast cold.  I wanted to do 10 miles at least, I thought maybe I should eat something first as a latte might not be enough.  Channelling my inner wannabee millennial hipster chick vibe I had avocado and tofu on toast.  I thought that would be healthy and delicious.  It probably was, well definitely delicious, but also a bit much to eat just before a run, and now it was midday and I didn’t want to leave it two hours before I went out. The skies were darkening, the elements promised inclement times ahead.  What to do?  I did briefly consider abandoning run altogether, but in an uncharacteristic display of mental fortitude I rationalised I’d really regret that.  Plus I was doing a virtual Easter Sunday run to nab some bling like this:

As a friend of mine had the genius idea of sending these out to people who do an Easter Sunday run in return for a £10 donation to the charity she is/was running the London Marathon for.  Great idea.  You make your donation, do your run, send proof, get sent medal.  Nice.  I like to think I’m not shallow, but basically I clearly am.  Who doesn’t appreciate running bling, even if they claim otherwise, and I want to support my running buddy/ new running best friend acquired on a January trip to London.

is there a medal

I decided to be brave, strap on my shoes with my motivational bling:

motivational bling

and head out.  I did head out.  Oh.  My.  Gawd!  That’s so cold.  I actually (shhhush, don’t tell) put on my fleece and contemplated going out in that, but then the hail started, and although my fleece would have been roasty toasty, it isn’t waterproof, and to be fair, even I recognise I can’t run London in a fleece.  Running coat it was, and multiple buffs, and pissed off expression. The chickens were coming too.  Here is the unimpressed before shot for ease of reference:

before

I set off.  Aaaargh, it was hard.  My legs feel strong, my lungs are fine, but eating that close to a run. Terrible idea. What was really annoying, is that I knew that, before I even ate.  What was I thinking.  I mean if I was mid run I wouldn’t have bolted all that down.  I was kicking myself for not just having had a naked bar and heading out earlier.  Plus I was thirsty, because I hadn’t drunk enough, and cold, because I had to walk a fair stretch and wasn’t moving fast enough.  I started to panic.  This is NOT WORKING.  Self doubt started screaming at me.  So stupid, is there any point?  I honestly didn’t know.

I am struggling a bit with what I’m supposed to be doing at this stage.  Really I think I need one more long run – but then I’ve got the Sheffield half next weekend, so when can I fit it in?  Plus, I’ve heard recently, and no, annoyingly I can’t remember where, that if you go out for longer than three hours at a stretch at this stage, you aren’t giving your body enough time to recover. This directly contradicts other advice about just reducing your mileage gradually down.  Truth is, if I did the latter, I’d still be going out for 5 hour runs, and that is a long time on the feet, and it does take its toll.  I just decided that some time on my feet was better than no time on my feet.  I’d not beat myself up, just do what I could.  Heading off on the ‘nice bit’ of the Sheffield  half there was an element of verisimilitude in the experience as there were so many other runners out doing the same recce.  I was constantly either being over-taken, or spotting runners on the return leg sprinting down the hill towards me.  Oh joy.

At one point a driver stopped and asked me for directions, which I gave, at length, having forgotten all about the chickens on my head.  She passed no comment.  It reminded me of an interaction years ago when I was out riding with a friend.  We’d taken horses down a track to a beach, and found perfectly grown wild garlic in abundance.  We had no means to carry it but wanted it for cooking – I was working for her at a veggie B&B.  We gathered up huge armfuls of it, and then basically stuffed it in our every pocket, tied around our waists with scarves, shoved it into the top of our boots, tucked it under the front and back of our saddles and stuck into the elastic bands around our hard hats. We must have looked like we were carrying out our own Green Man homage, plus we smelt to high heaven.  As we did it, we were of course mindful of the comedic value of how stupid we must look, but after a bit, gently walking our horses home some hours later we’d forgotten.  An American tourist drew up alongside us in his hire car to ask for directions.  As my friend gave them, I watched his expression change as his eyes widened in disbelief.  We were practically encased in this wild garlic, and he had no idea what to make of it. Was it some strange Welsh ritual?  Was it a festival that he knew not of.  My friend was completely oblivious to his increasing discomfort, as he was clearly beginning to fear what closed community he may have happened upon like in The Wicker Man for example.  I wasn’t, but was enjoying observing his incredulity at what he was witnessing. I could imagine him once safely back at home trying to relate this story of the wild women he’d encountered on his trip with the wild-eyed passion of those who insist they have been abducted by aliens.  Few if any would believe him, over time, he might not even believe this had happened himself.  He’s probably still researching this phenomenon to this day.  Maybe he thought we were just really scared of vampires.  This is the destiny of those who bear witness alone.  I found it hilarious though, so that was the main thing.  My  chicks were more understated and more easily explained, but I like to think they played their part in this mid-run interaction too.

wild garlic

It was something of a labour trudging up hill, feeling bloated.  On the plus side, there were some cute spring lambs in abundance

I kept finding excuses to grind to a halt.  It was very, very muddy going up along Ringinglow road and my road shoes were slipping all over the place.  I really don’t want to be injured at this point so picked my way through gingerly, blaming the mud for my lack of speed, whilst inwardly thanking it for being their and legitimising my lard-arsed tardiness.

Crossing the road opposite the Norfolk Arms, there were so many cyclists and walkers around I couldn’t run either on the road or pavement.  But my walking meant I did get to see this adorable little bird’s nest from last year, exposed in a hedge that had shed its leaves over winter.  How completely perfect is this?  I briefly considered putting one of my chicks in it as a sort of visual gag, but then thought the better of it as it could equally be perceived as littering.  Took a photo though.  You can’t see the scale here really, but it was tiny, the size of half a tennis ball maybe.  Just adorable

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At long last, I was on Sheephill road.  I genuinely love this bit of the route.  Finally, I started a bit of a trot, and found my rhythm and just loped along admiring the city-scape views.  For a city marathon it’s pretty spectacular.  It was cold, but the wintry showers had abated, and after a bit of undulation it started to slope downwards towards Dore. The route is increasingly familiar and I hit my stride, belatedly perhaps, nearly 4 miles in, but I felt strong and like I could have kept that up indefinitely.  I know I wasn’t doing a long run, but it helped my confidence rally a little to feel that yep, my legs have remembered what to do. The secret really is to slow down, and not to worry that ‘proper runners’ might guffaw at me for imagining my sloth like movements constituted sufficient action to create forward motion, let alone merit the descriptor ‘running’.  Mental strength people remember, mental strength.

My feeling of being strong was marred slightly by being constantly overtaken by speedy other runners, but hey ho, that is inevitable in my universe.  Some of them were in shorts for goodness sake!  Little wonder they were in such a hurry to get home.

Plod plod, trot trot.  I felt good.  Maybe I should have added on more miles, but I decided instead to just keep up a constant run for as long as I could.   The miles ticked by, I’m starting to think it does take me about 4 miles to find my pace, which might be partly why my parkrun times are so increasingly lamentable these days.  I suppose if I seriously wanted to improve them I could warm up before hand say, but that seems somewhat extreme.  For today, I decided to just make myself keep on running, for as long as I could, and it was a lot longer than I expected.  I am not sure I entirely welcome the findings of my increasing self awareness running wise, it seems that if I desist from pausing to take photos, and remind myself to keep on running up that hill as Kate Bush would have it, then I can go on and on like the Duracell bunny.  I don’t tire, I just give up.  It’s like my body cottons on to what i’m doing and draws my attention to the fact that all this exertion is entirely avoidable and unnecessary, and it would be so much more pleasing to just stop and gaze about. If I don’t give into that urge, it will reluctantly press on, until it becomes a  habit.  Cue sound of penny dropping – maybe this is what my marathon pace is supposed to feel like?  I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s slow, very slow, some people can power walk faster, but it’s still faster than me walking and if i could maintain it for many more miles I’ll definitely be getting round London a lot more quickly than if I stop start with the frequency of an over-sensitive car alarm.  Knowledge is complicated, with it comes responsibility.  I genuinely have absolutely no idea how I’ll fare in London, but this slow pace running might actually be an option if the course is as flat as I’m led to believe.

I had to stop to cross roads though, and you no what, that got to be quite annoying.  Though the spring flowers were nice.  Shame about the dead badger(s) though. I  suppose it shows there must be a population out there which is good, but sad to see not one, but two, taken out by cars.

Trot trot, plod plod.  Through Dore, off down whatever road it is that takes you off Hathersage road, off on an almighty diversion and then rejoining the road couple of hundred yards later – one downside of becoming increasingly familiar with the route, is I’ve started to notice all the potential short cuts available, that call out to you on the way round.  I want to run the distance, but presented with a way shorter route home it does seem pretty dim to deliberately add miles to an outing when that time could be reclaimed and channelled into sofa sitting time for example…  I mean just look at it, definitely not the most direct route out and back is it?

strava route

It defies reason – no wonder even Strava gives the strava art thumbs down to that unnecessary triangle into Dore!

Eventually I was on the homeward straight, Ecclesall Road South and downward towards the city.  A couple of miles from home another runner appeared alongside me.  Oh my, that was fantastic.  I normally hate running with other people, but it was a running miracle.  She was quite genuinely running at my pace, having seen me a good mile or so back and really cracked on to catch up with me (that’s a first, me being the target for a faster runner) now she was tiring and nearing the end of an 18 mile run asked if we could run together for a bit to help the miles pass and – you won’t believe this – it actually worked.  I have randomly found someone who runs at exactly my pace.  It was great, no huffing to keep up and resenting being dragged round whilst my sense of personal inadequacy grows to the point it overwhelms me and I not only decide to give up running, but to never leave the house in daylight hours again, EVER.

We chatted, we swapped running stories. She’s preparing for Brighton but has previously done London, albeit a decade ago. She was still buzzing with memories and positivity though.  Top tips from her, don’t worry about being slow and steady, it pays off.  Apart from finding herself running between a pepperoni and a rhino at one point, she also noted that she ended up passing ‘faster runners’ who’d basically set off too fast at the start and blown up.  I don’t think she meant literally as in spontaneously combusted, I think we’d have heard about that, but as in just burning out way too soon.  There is something to be said for slow and steady where marathons are concerned.  Other helpful comments included a warning that it is a stop start frustrating first 4 miles or so before people spread out enough you can actually run. Weirdly, that might favour me, as it takes me an age to get started anyway.   It was really heartening.  I started to believe again that I might actually do this, my maranoia seemed to lift.  She also described the final stretch down the mall really vividly.  Even though it was a decade ago the memory was still strong.   There are no crowds on the Mall – I hadn’t twigged that point, anyway, it means it’s suddenly relatively quiet and contemplative, and she found herself reflecting back on all the things that had brought her to that point.  Oh my god. It was so what I needed to hear.  I can’t wait to experience that for myself.  I think finally, it’s going to be such an amazing experience it shouldn’t matter how fast or slow I am, I’m just so very lucky to be able to go there at all.  If I get to the start, I should get to the finish.  Lucky me!  Best marathon advice ever?  Just enjoy it.

I left my new best friend heading off to Hunters Bar as I swung up towards Brincliffe Edge, but we have promised to meet up post our respective marathons to show off bling and share running tales.  What a turn around from the start of my run, when I could hardly imagine setting foot out of the door, and now I’m all skippy and happy and Bring.  It. On.

Don’t worry, the feeling will wear off pretty soon I reckon.  My lobster red legs were not a pretty sight as they incubated chilblains, and my running chick buddy passed out on completion.  Still, a run’s a run.  10 miles is better than no miles, and once again, my legs and lungs are feeling fine.  There are worse ways to prepare for a marathon. The snow may come tomorrow, I would like to get one longer run in if I can, but then again I’ve already banked a 21 miler, and although that was two weeks ago now, I do believe I can do the distance actually, I just need to hold my nerve and not allow myself to turn to lard too quickly.  Some people apparently climb the walls during the taper, all that pent up energy needing an outlet.  I fear I rather embrace the resting and carbing up. Show me a sofa, I can lie on it eating donuts no worries. Trouble is, annoyingly, I’m coming to understand tapering is a tad more sophisticated than that. Shame.

Still, I’ve lived to run another day.  Unlike chick buddy here.  At least s/he saw something of the world before turning toes up.

after

Love running.  Love running related fun.  Love parkrun, Love my running buddies old and new and not yet met.  Hoping I’ll love London too, at the very least it will be an adventure, and adventures are what make life interesting, so I’ll have a few of those please, if I can. So the final words of wisdom in terms of the best advice I’ve had so far with respect to tackling a first time marathon remain:

Just enjoy it.

I finally think I will!  🙂

Categories: marathon, motivation, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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