Poorly planned parkrun tourism

I’m working 10pm-7am every Friday night for the next month so any chances to fit in some parkrun tourism are going to be few and far between over the next few weeks. Last weekend was the last Wolves game of the season though, meaning that I should hopefully be able to fit in some more local parkruns again as there is no longer a need to rush back from work to nap before Dan travels back for the football on a Saturday lunchtime.

I had been dreading last weekend. Dan had prewarned me that he would need to leave early for the Wolves game on Saturday, as it was due to be a big turnout for the last game of the season. He would also be home later than usual, – after 8pm.  Cutting into my nap times at both ends of the day!

I try to sleep for an hour or so before getting ready for work to try and get me through the night, which does help somewhat, and can usually manage 2-3 hours of sleep the following morning before taking over with Oscar, but working weekend nightshifts is still far from an ideal situation at the moment.  (Especially as it’s stopping me from booking some of the races I want to enter at the moment too!)

I rocked up to work at 10pm on Friday night as usual. After my hour long nap before work on the first nightshift of the week I always struggle to get out of bed. It takes me a little while to fall asleep on Friday evenings as I will have usually slept normally the night before. When my alarm goes off at 8:40 I always end up snoozing it for five minutes and end up having to really drag myself out of bed when that second alarm cries out.

My manager was late in this week. When he arrived I nodded my head in his direction and carried on working the cream aisle which I tend to work on a Friday night. He made his way over and whispered “You’re not supposed to be in tonight!”  I was so sure I was and as we headed down to the office to check the rota I scrolled through the photos on my phone and found the picture I’d taken the previous month showing my hours.  I WAS due to work that night!  However I wasn’t on the main rota displayed in the office.
My manager said I was welcome to stay and work but that the department was already fairly well staffed for that night so I offered to go home, trading the inconvenience of me coming in for a shift I didn’t work for next Sunday off from work, as I’d forgotten to book off the night before Milton Keynes Marathon, which could have been interesting!  As it is, I’m still working Friday and Saturday night next weekend, then traveling to Norfolk for the christening of a friend’s baby on the Sunday afternoon.  Then returning to Northants on Sunday evening as I need to be in Milton Keynes by 9am on Monday to have my photo taken as one of the Milton Keynes Marathon ambassadors. (Why is my life always so busy and manic?!)

But, not working on Friday night this weekend meant that at least I would be able to fit in some tourism before the craziness of the next few weeks hits.  I had spoken to Laura earlier on the Friday who had mentioned that she was going to the fairly new Luton parkrun course to tick off some more parkrun tourism the following day.  After clocking out from work and before heading home I quickly typed ‘Luton parkrun’ into Google and saved the details for the following day, dropping Laura a quick message to say that I was no longer working and would join her at the Luton event.

I actually ended up not getting to bed until 11:30pm.  Oscar has had a bit of a cold this week and then woke at about 4am for half an hour or so, just wanting a cuddle.  He went back to bed without issue and was still sleeping when my alarm went a little later at 6:45am.

As I’m so used to doing now I took my running clothes downstairs and changed in the kitchen, messaging Laura to say I was on my way.

The Luton Wardown parkrun course is about an hour away from me but having not been there before, and not being the best at following directions I wanted to leave plenty of time to get there.  I arrived with lots of time to spare, hopping out of my car just after 8:30am.  I messaged Laura to let her know that I had arrived first.  (This NEVER happens!  I’m usually the one legging it over to the start line just in time to cross the line as someone is shouting ‘GO’!)  Laura replied to say that her satnav had broken so she had had to stop and pull up the directions on her phone but would be there shortly.

I found the toilets (nicest toilets I’ve been to at a parkrun before) and decided to run a warmup mile whilst I waited for Laura to arrive as the weather was pretty miserable – wet and chilly.

Following all the other runners I headed down towards the start, keeping an eye out for Laura on my way.  Still no sign of her.  I really hoped she’d managed to find it OK.  The briefing didn’t begin until 9am and I pushed my way through the group to try and spot Laura in the crowds.  Still couldn’t see her!

The briefing lasted a little while as there were several runners completing milestone parkruns and there was also information given about #runforMatt – an organised 0.6 miles following the parkrun to make up the mileage to 3.7 miles – the distance Matt Campbell had been from the finish line when he died at the London Marathon the previous weekend.  Everyone cheered for the 156th event and then we made our way down to the start line.

I’d spotted on the Luton Wardown Facebook page that the last Saturday of each month was their official pacer parkrun event and they had a large number of Pacers advertised for the run between 23-36 minutes. I had been feeling rather weary all week so decided to slot myself between the 29 and 30 minute pacers and just run a comfortable pace throughout.

Luton Wardown parkrun


(Photo from the Luton Wardown Facebook page)

It wasn’t until I was a mile in to the run that it clicked that the Race Director had mentioned it being the 156th event that day.  I remembered that Laura had said the parkrun event she had been going to this weekend had only been running for a few months and suddenly realised that there must be two parkruns in Luton and that Laura must have gone to the other one!  Whoops!  (In actual fact she had gone to Houghton Hall, just 3.9 miles up the road!)

The Luton Wardown course is three and a bit laps, with a quite long, gradual hill up a muddy slope which you run up four times in total.  It definitely isn’t a PB course!  On my second lap the guy in first place (wearing a London marathon t-shirt from the previous weekend) lapped me. I think seven runners lapped me before I began my final lap. I also began lapping people on my second lap as well.

Luton Wardown parkrun

(Photo from the Luton Wardown Facebook page)

I’m not a massive fan of several-lap courses but it is nice knowing where the hills are going to pop up and where to expect marshals/support on the way round.

The 29 minute pacer was still far into the distance as I completed my third lap. I glanced down at my watch to see that I would still finish a fair way under 29 minutes, but gave a final kick anyway.

Official time: 28:42
Position: 119/284
Gender position: 20/121
Age category position: 3/11

The weather had remained fairly miserable throughout. That horrible kind of drizzly rain where you end up feeling soaked despite barely noticing the rain coming down at the time.

This was my 107th parkrun and 23rd different course. I was hoping for another tick at Stopwatch Bingo but it wasn’t to be!

Wearing my cow cowl at Luton Wardown parkrun

My cow cowl had arrived earlier in the week though, so I made sure to wrap it around my wrist to indicate that I was a tourist.  I didn’t spot any others out there on the day, but I’m looking forward to spotting some more tourists at events now that I have my cowl too.

Wearing my cow cowl at Luton Wardown parkrun

If you have a cow cowl, how do you wear yours?
Have you ever (not) met someone at the wrong location before?!
Did you take part in the #runforMatt 3.7 miles at the weekend?

I am a running teacher

Tonight’s parents evening was not without event, but I knew that would be the case. I’m a Computer Science teacher, also teaching ICT to year groups 5-12. The school has never had a qualified Computer Science or ICT teacher before, so I knew when I joined I would be playing catchup for a while, particularly with my GCSE classes. Until I began my job I did not realise that no exam content or coursework had been covered at all last year and both I and my band of year elevens have been working our backsides off all year to try and rectify the past issues with the courses.
Anyway, a full day of teaching, then parents evening running into my trail running time did not make for a very calm Mary tonight!
I’m not a big drinker but I did reach for a glass when I got in tonight just before 8pm.

And I’m afraid my planned 90 minute trail run didn’t happen due to the over running parents evening making me miss the meet time so my *ahem* Janathon exercise for the day was a power walk to the shops to pick up some Wispa bites.

They were tasty and it’s not like I often buy chocolate but my walk down to the shops did make me feel a little bit sad for those people who are regularly ‘too busy’ to get into a fitness routine. My Wednesday night trail runs are normally the highlight of my working week and I find myself much more alive and productive by the time I return home. But tonight by the time I’d gotten home, told Dan about my day, eaten tea and walked to the shops and back I had no mental energy to do anything else. Even if the run had been arranged for after the parents evening I wouldn’t have been up for going. I’ve had my fair share of manual labour jobs-I used to work as a riding instructor for several years-but the intensity of teaching, delivering results and always being ‘on show’ to kids, staff and parents, always being alert and able to react to any given situation drains me more than anything else has ever done.
When I first started teaching I found it bizarre just how many teachers ran but now it makes perfect sense to me. Running is an escape. A chance to have a bit of fun with friends and forget all the heavy child protection issues, the detentions you still need to issue, the marking of homework hanging over your head. I have learnt to switch off when I reach home, my running normally forces me to do so but I can see how so many teachers go off on long term sick with stress related illnesses. You have so much responsibility for so many things at once and the constant pressure for your students to perform just adds to the stress. Out of interest I wonder how many of those teachers are runners. I strongly believe running and well, exercise generally should be prescribed as a treatment for lots of issues. Who can be unhappy after going for a run and seeing what your body is capable of accomplishing?!

Wisdom from Bridget Jones

You know those days when everything falls into place on your run and you just feel great?… Well today was one of those days!
I’ve spent the last day and a half waddling around with sudocream covering the sores on the top of my legs, fearing that I’d end up having to take more time off from running.  But tonight I spread some Vaseline over the raw bits and with my legs unable to rub whilst my pair of tights sat smoothly against my skin I was able to run without any discomfort at all.
My friend Hayley popped over before tea and we covered just under five miles running one of my favourite road routes. My legs were strong, my breathing spot on, the pace was just short of a tempo for me. It felt tough, – challenging but achievable and we could still grab conversation in patches on the way round. Just what I needed today!

Thanks for everyone’s comments about my CrossFit dilemma… Don’t panic, I won’t be trying anything at home on my own! I was very wary to begin with about getting injured without an instructor but people’s comments have permanently put me off. For now I’m going to attempt some strength training workout DVDs at home as a starting block and keep my eyes out for a CrossFit trial over the next couple of months.

The past two days Dan and I have been tidying, scrubbing, binning and reorganising ready for the estate agent to pay us a visit and evaluate our house which took place this morning. After 40 minutes (and some running chat after he spotted my running trainers in the porch, -turned out he was a runner too!) he gave us a much higher estimate than we had been hoping for.
We celebrated with high fives when he left cos that’s how we roll.

House Move

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.” (Bridget Jones)

Bridget Jones(source)

Dan stayed home to hear the valuation so was a little late heading into work this morning. No more than 45 minutes after he had left I got a call to say that he had been in a car accident. Thankfully nobody was seriously hurt. He had stopped for a red light. The woman behind, not concentrating swerved into the road to avoid hitting him and went straight into a lorry coming the other way which then pushed her car through the side of Dan’s. Police were called and drivers checked over but the damage was just to the vehicles and Dan is now driving a courtesy car until further notice. As he was quite shaken up, and without a working car he was sent home from work and spent the rest of the day trying to sort out the courtesy car or on the phone to the insurance company or worried workmates.
I’ve been in several crashes over my eleven years of driving but this was Dan’s first.

Just as you begin to think things are looking up, something comes and (quite literally) crashes you back down into reality…

My luck has run out!

So far, I haven’t been all that lucky with technology in 2014.
On Monday my phone broke. I think, beyond repair. When I head out trail running I often store my phone in the back pocket of my tights and last weekend it failed to operate for three hours afterwards. I figured it had gotten too hot and sweaty bouncing around there in my back pocket. On Monday when I visited my friend Amanda her dog leapt up to greet me, knocking my phone onto the floor and the touch screen has not worked since. I’m due an upgrade at the start of April so I had planned to wait until then rather than fork out a lot of money for a new phone this week.
Then this morning my laptop gave up on me. I woke up nice and early and headed downstairs to get a bit of work done only for my  laptop to tell me “cannot find operating system”. Again, I was rather calm, aware that I had only recently purchased my Nexus 7 and was still able to blog. (Clearly I’ve got my priorities right! Haha!) But on the drive to work I realised just how much I do actually rely on and an missing the technology.
I’m missing my morning phone calls to my Mum. Each morning I pop her on the car phone and we have a good old matter whilst I drive to work. She’s taken to emailing me over the past couple of days so we’re still able to contact each other but when i still had a phone we were able to chat while we were both doing other things.
I realised on my way to work that I had a redesign of a website for a client on my desktop which was due to go live on Monday of which I have no backup of. I also have business details that I spent hours and hours figuring out..Gah!
Some things are backed up on Google Drive such as our wedding guest list thankfully. The amount of times we’ve whittled that down to get our final number is unbelievable! I also always put my photos in an album on Facebook, so although I will no longer have full resolution copies I will still have copies of photos from the last few years.
Dan has been my saviour today and ordered a new screen for my phone (not entirely sure this will work still) and brought a machine home from his work tonight to try and at least collect as much as possible from my  laptop before giving up on it completely. I have my fingers crossed for that… :S
When I visited Mum at the start of the week she sent me home with some fresh bread, goat’s cheese and cherry tomatoes. These three items have produced some tasty sandwiches for me every day this week along with a nice big dollop of pesto and I have to say I’ve still not been starving hungry like I usually am by the time it comes to eating tea at 8pm!
This afternoon we put an offer in on the house we have been looking at and are now waiting to hear back from the sellers as to whether or not they will accept the offer. I put a shout out on Facebook last night for suggestions of tasty places to eat nearby to the property and so we ended up checking out one of the local Indian restaurants this evening for our date night.

Has anyone ever received a platter of chocolate and sweets along with a shot of Bailey’s when they paid the bill before? I’ve never gotten more than one sweet before but we had a whole platter of small mints that looked like gravel, tiny multi coloured liquorice sweets, an after eight each and an orange chocolate square along with a shot of Bailey’s!

Fridays are currently my running rest days so tonight I returned to my workout without a foot routine and Day 10 of Janathon went by without a complete rest day, still feeling motivated and strong. :-) I’ve asked if I can join some of the runners from group 6 for their 10 mile run tomorrow morning, and we’re leaving at 6:30am! It’ll be nice to run with someone different, I’m looking forward to it despite the early start.