This weekend I’ve been at my parents’ place in North Norfolk.

In the week, I emailed my mum and suggested that I’d quite like to go to a parkrun on Saturday morning. Their location lends itself to three different parkrun options – Norwich, King’s Lynn or Sheringham – none of which I have previously visited.

I have to say, I am very happy with my mum’s suggestion of Sheringham, it was probably my favourite parkrun to date.

Sheringham Park is about a 20-25 minute drive away from where my parents live, so at around 08:20 on Saturday morning, me and my Dad along with greyhound Freddie and whippet cross Honey jumped in the car and headed on over. We timed it perfectly, arriving to news of free parking for parkrunners (woohoo!) and just in time for the 08:50 briefing.

It was the second anniversary of Sheringham parkrun this weekend, so the briefing included a lot of thanks and praise for all the run directors, volunteers and regular runners. It kicked off the celebratory atmosphere nicely.

Being the 1st November, there was also a lot of impressive Halloween fancy dress on show, and I did feel a little bit bad for not making more of an effort – or at least donning some devil horns.

The route itself could not have been more different from the parkrun I went to the week before at Burgess. On the website it is described as “undulating… with a sting in it’s tail” and I would definitely have to agree with that. It was (what I would call) hilly, and also trailly… possibly a bit too much for my liking, but nice for a change. The one thing I loved though was that it was ONE LAP! From what I can tell, one lap parkruns (particularly in my part of London) are pretty rare, so having just one lap to do of a completely unknown course was an absolute joy.

Whilst I ran, my dad and the dogs went for an explore of the park and at the end, we headed to the café for a coffee and cheese scone, and stayed around for the trophy presentations (top 3 males, top 3 females, top junior and top volunteer of the previous year) and to enjoy some of the Halloween treats provided by some of the runners.

We experienced a really lovely, friendly, inclusive family atmosphere – exactly what parkrun is all about. I’m really hoping that this introduction to parkrun might see my dad return in the future to tackle the course himself.

It’s now been almost seven months since I ran the Paris marathon – one of the best, most transformative experiences of my life.

Not being a keepsake type person, the lengths I’ve gone to to commemorate the achievement just goes to show the profound effect running the marathon has had on me.

There’s been some small things I’ve already shared, such as the good luck charm for my Thomas Sabo bracelet I received from my parents in the week before the race…

And the tshirt I bought for myself to remind me why all the early Sunday mornings would be worth it…

And the spur of the moment but slightly more permanent ink I got at Abraxas in Paris the morning after…

But my most recent addition to the seemingly never ending list of Parisian reminders is my bib number, which has been beautifully framed by Rabbit in a Frame.

My picture in no way does justice to how gorgeous this item is

I never keep my race bibs but I really liked the design on this one – the skyline, my name, the date and my starting pen all made this one a bit more personalised. Mike at Rabbit in a Frame was really great and when he found out what he’d be framing suggested that it shouldn’t be overpowered by the frame, and instead look like it is suspended within it, which I love.

I paid £35 for the service (which includes free pick up and drop off within pretty much all of East London – mine was picked up from my office and dropped off back at my house). The prices have gone up slightly since I used them back at the beginning of the summer, but for a bespoke and convenient service I still think it’s really good value.

And now my Parisian collection is complete.

Ahhh, weekends. Aren’t they great?

Along with a night out with a few work colleagues on Saturday – which involved a bit too much beer and not quite enough dinner (and consequently an early hours trip to McDonald’s on Tottenham Court Road) – I also managed to fit in some interesting fitness-y things this weekend. Such as…

Burgess parkrun

Short shorts make me run faster

My tenth parkrun (if only I was a junior and got a tshirt at ten – boo!) was a new one for both me and seasoned parkrun tourist Steph. It’s known as a fast, flat course, so when I got a text from Steph on Friday saying ‘are we still PB-ing tomorrow?‘, I thought I would screw being completely underprepared and sent back the completely enthusiastic response of ‘umm… I think we’ll give it a go‘.

And we gave it a go and we pulled it off! Steph’s incredible pacing skills, a lot of one-sided chatting and some much needed stern words in the final kilometre and she got me round almost 2 minutes faster than my previous best parkrun time and well under the 27 minute mark (26:17 to be precise) which I’ve been wanting ever since the PB-that-wasn’t in Geneva in May.

An added bonus to parkrunning is the well deserved café stops afterwards, and we found an absolute gem just outside Burgess Park in the form of Fowlds. Coffee and breakfast of a ham and cheese croissant (me)  and avocado on toast (Steph) happily consumed, it was time to hop on a couple of buses over to…

The Om Yoga Show

I went and spent all day at the Yoga Show last year (you can read my post here), so I wasn’t too bothered about trawling all the stands with the same vigour, but I did pick up a new mat strap from Yogamatters – one of the best exhibitors in my opinion.

I did pay for a 90 minute mindfulness workshop, led by Louise Palmer from Camyoga. I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot from it, which I’ll cover in a separate post at some point.

But safe to say, after some short guided meditations, stepping back out into the chaos of the main hall was a bit of a struggle!

Weightlifting for Women Workshop

After a bit of a pep talk from Charlie and after dragging myself out of my hangover, I headed to Shoreditch on Sunday morning for a two hour free lifting workshop with Sally Moss from Strength Ambassadors.

We covered off how to deadlift (my favourite), how to build up to full pull ups (least favourite… SO HARD!) and squats, focussing on how to do them with correct technique and gradually building on the weight. The workshop was an introduction into the full four week Ladies Who Lift programme that Sally runs, although sadly I can’t make the next course that’s running in November.

I’m really pleased I did this as I will definitely be approaching the weights room in the gym with a renewed confidence that I know what I’m doing. Plus, I really enjoyed deadlifting and really want to get better at that!

Feeling at home in the squat rack! (Charlie’s photo)

How was your weekend?

I had something in my diary for last weekend for months – that entry read ‘sunrise run’. I’m not too sure where the idea first came from, but a while back, myself, Steph, Charlie and Harry decided to meet early one weekend – early enough to get to see the sunrise as we ran. Oh how I love having friends who also think this sounds like a good idea. The plan developed further and we decided to make a booking for breakfast at Duck and Waffle (the UK’s highest restaurant) for 7am – which a quick Google search told us would be perfect timing to see the sun come up over London at just before half 7 after our run.

Charlie stayed over at mine the night before and after a 1am bedtime (I should never expect an early night when she’s around!) I crawled out of bed at 5am, hit the shower and then hit the road. I decided to cycle as I’m enjoying cycling way more than running at the moment, and we headed over Tower Bridge and followed the river along to Waterloo where we were due to meet Steph and Harry at 6am.

I’ve cycled to Waterloo once before early in the morning and having a usually so tourist dominated stretch all to yourself really is quite something. I don’t think we passed a single person the whole way there, or if we did, we were too happy to notice them.

I then did my best at navigating us in the complete opposite direction from the restaurant, before panicking, turning us all around and heading quickly in the right direction with a run/cycle through the City towards Heron Tower.

After a small issue with the man on the door (yes, we know we aren’t in restaurant appropriate attire, but can we at least just go up to the bathroom to get changed? No? Well okay then), the experience improved dramatically. Friendly, attentive staff, an English Breakfast with not an ounce of grease (or the need for ketchup) stodgy, warm pastries and of course THAT VIEW.

I knew I was paying for the privilege of looking out of their lofty windows, but I didn’t care – it was so worth it.

We timed it beautifully, the conditions were gorgeous and we were facing East so I even got to spot my house! Okay, not my exact house, but the collection of buildings at least.

I would start every weekend at 5am if it meant I got to sip coffee and gaze out over this…

 

 

I was one of the (very few) lucky ones who scored a ballot place for the Royal Parks half marathon. I say very few, as when I picked up my race pack, about 85% of the people on the list had ‘charity runner’ next to their name. And I do feel very lucky to have run this race.

When I found out I had a place in Royal Parks, I toyed with the idea of going for a sub-2, which would mean taking off almost 15 minutes from my current PB. As usual for me, I did not have the competitiveness nor the bother to train to run quicker than my default plod, and so I went into this race off the back of quite a few really bad, quite panic-laden runs.

But this run turned out to be everything I needed it to be. It really was brilliant.

Here’s the lissyruns formula for making a near-perfect half marathon experience…

Pick your kinda race

This was exactly the type of race I know I love – big city, big field, lots of plodders (thanks to the high number of charity entrants) and this time it had the added bonus of being IN MY HOME CITY.

Oh, and this is a super organised race too. Flawless bag drop, loos on the course, loads of water stations – I literally couldn’t fault it.

Run with friends

I ran the first 9 miles with my ace friend Cara, until her ankle injury flared up and she very kindly let me go on. I loved running with her and we will definitely be running a whole half marathon together in the future.

Soak up the cheers

There was a lot of support at this race, and I found that it really helped. I loved that I saw Emma from Hilly Fields parkrun on the Embankment, I loved the wall of noise from all the charity teams when we first entered Hyde Park at about mile 6 and then I was SO happy to see Leah and Billie deep into one of the quieter sections of the park route later on. Leah takes a cracking race photo…

Photo by Leah

And then soak them up some more…

There was also a very strong presence from my Run Dem Crew family at the race which was nothing short of incredible. Knowing they were coming up at mile 10 got me through a couple of tough miles and going through the wall of noise was one of my favourite ever running experiences. I stopped for a hug and a bit of jumping around with Charlie, had some high fives and was on my way. The final 5k was brutal, but was made so much easier by that boost of love.

Photo by Charlie

Photo by Charlie

Photo by Chevy

Photo by Binta

Pace yourself

Although this wasn’t a PB race for me, I was really happy with my time of 2:22 given how negatively I had felt about running beforehand. But the part I am most proud of is how consistently I ran. Each 5k split was between 33 and 34 minutes and in the six other half marathons I’ve run I’ve never had the stamina not to crash after 10k. It was slow but it was consistent.

Celebrate in style

Charlie met me at the finish line (well she tried but I managed to wander off and get myself lost in the race village) with a bottle of mini Champagne (best cheer person ever!) That, along with her fantastic photography skills, managed to grab me an amazing prize courtesy of Fitness First as I entered and WON their #FinishLineFace competition! Putting embarrassing photos of myself on the internet finally paid off!

Then I went for a massive burger and ALL THE BEER. Beer is always, always my favourite way to celebrate a long run.