parkrun tourism: Monaghan Town

Event number 46.

I’m hoping to reach my half-cowell (50 different parkruns) some time in 2018. Part of this will be acheived using various weekend trips here and there, but I’m also lucky enough to have a few Irish ones not too far away. My NENDY (Nearest Event Not Done Yet) was Monaghan Town, about 50 miles away, and the sat nav reckoned 1 hour 15 would get us there.

The suggested route wasn’t the one I’d normally have chosen, going instead through Aughnacloy, and when I hit a “Road Closed – Diversion” sign, I did have a moment of panic.  But the diversion didn’t add too many minutes to my eta.  The route brought me into Monaghan from a different direction, but serendipitously passed this fab service station, with clean loos, coffee, snacks, plenty of parking for a leg stretch.

Access:

No postcodes in the south, so I had written out the directions from the website – follow the Clones Road, then turn left on 3 Mile House road, past the football stadium, and Rossmore Forest is on your left.

I arrived just after 9, and started looking for the familiar parkrun signs to assure me I was in the right place.

Facilities:

There is ample parking, and a small toilet block, which I would describe as “emergency use only”.

(Parkrun tourist tip #5: carry your own loo roll).  There were a couple of flasks for tea afterwards, but I gather this isn’t a regular occurence.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

It was a beautiful morning, and as I got out of the car I was struck by all the chirpy birdsong.

So I decided to leave the headphones in the car, and let the twittering of the birdlife, and the tinkling of the streams be my natural soundtrack.

Course:

2 laps through the woods, surprisingly flat with a welcome downhill stretch towards the finish line.

It’s all gravel paths, very well signposted and marshalled.  It is stunningly attractive, with a little bridge, streams, swans on a lake, and a host of inspiring trees.

The finish is at the car park, and the start line a short distance away.  I was able to leave my jacket and keys under a table at the finish point.

Time:

I set off fast, and realised that the first lady was about 10m ahead of me.  My mind briefly flirted with the possibility of a podium place, but at km 2 I was overtaken, and at km 3 my podium place evaporated.  So I decided to take my own advice and not push too hard on any first visit – make it easy for yourself to nab a PB on any subsequent re-visits.

I took the second loop at a gentle canter, and stopped to take photos en route.

Crowd:

The average crowd size is smallish, there were 53 the day I was there.  So it’s a good one to get a solid finish position!  I bumped into some other tourists from Marlay at the brief, and the volunteers were all really friendly and encouraging.  Is there a term for being the “runner with the most parkruns done” there?  It was me, anyway.

Gear:

My Garmin amazingly worked without any issues!  I wore my foresty leggings and my 100 shirt, only cow cowl there.

And the Rest:

This was the first time I got stuck beind a pony and trap on  the way home!  A delightful morning’s run, and I look forward to returning.

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

200100 or 1,000km

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Milestone T shirts are all very well, but there’s a heck of a gap between the black 100 shirt and the green 250 one.  Running at 50 parkruns each year is a big committment – I’m a pretty regular attender and even I only managed 40 in 2017.  So you’re looking at at least 3 years between 100 and 250.

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So I decided to have a bit of fun with my 200th parkrun.  Firstly, I ensured that it coincided with my 100 time at Wallace, proving just what a serial tourist I am, as well as being a bit fanatic about mathematical symmetry and patterns.  This was not without a few sleepless nights in January, hoping that cancellations due to ice wouldn’t sotally scupper my plans.

I needed a shirt, so I got a strip of wide black ribbon, and used my trusty fabric paint to write a number 2 (stop sniggering at the back).  Someone aksed if it was done with toothpaste – believe me, if I thought that would be funnier I would do it!  I attached it over the 1 on my 100 shirt with safety pins.

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For the cake, I know that fruit based offerings are usually popular, so I got a friend to bake me a large rectangular sponge, and I decorated it with cream and spelled out the 200 in raspberries,  and the 100 in blueberries, with black and green grapes for the border.  It looked well, but smaller raspberries would have been easier to work with, and it was a bit awkward to transport.

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You know me, any excuse to dress up!  So I needed a suitable theme.  I went with the “Wallace as Braveheart” idea, and as I have plenty of tartan bits and bobs around, all I needed for this look was some blue face paint.  Shouting “Freedom” as I went round each corner was an easy way to keep in character, an bring a smile to many faces.

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John, the RD gave me a great speech, and pointed out that in getting to 200 runs, I’d also volunteered 33 times, taking on almost every role….except one.  And would I like to be guest RD some day soon.

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It was a bitterly cold day, so I really appreciated the support from friends and family who came along- to cousin David who ran with me on his first toruism venture, and his wife Karen who helped with the teas and cake.  To Liz and Emma, the Murphy twins, who ran at Wallace even though they have nightmares about “Heartbreak Hill”, and for the card and the afternoon tea afterwards. To Susan, who wore her old Wallace school tie.  And to my husband who helped trasnport the cake, and who was my usual faithful paprazzo.

At the end someone pointed out that was 1,000km.  Here’s to the next 1,000!

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(Actually, I’ll only have to run 250km to the next milestone T shirt, estimating somewhere about April 2019…..)

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All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

parkrun tourism: York

parkrun 196, and 45th different event.

On my parkrun adventures, one of the targets that keep you going (100 Tshirt to 250 is AT LEAST 3 years….) is grabbing letters of the alphabet.  Now, there’s no X anywhere (surely an opportunity for somewhere, but meanwhile St Andrews, as in cross, will suffice…) and Z is a foreign trip to Poland or South Africa.

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The Norn Irn parkruns do have some of the lesser spotted letters – there’s a Q at Queens, a V at Valley, and 2 Ws at Waterworks and my home run Wallace.  But I’m still lacking a G, J, K, (all of which I can get on the  island of Ireland, albeit with difficulty), and the U and Y, of which there are very few.  So when I saw a chance to get a Y at York, I absolutley jumped at it!

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Access:

Located at York Racecourse, this is a pretty easy to get to run.  I was staying in an Air BnB, and had booked a taxi, not wanting to risk missing the start, but my son, who was working in the city for the week, just walked there from his digs, and in fact we walked back into town together, which took about 20 minutes.  There’s plenty of car parking near the main racecourse entrance, and also some at the start of the parkrun, which is at the far side of the track. I saw a few people arrive by bike, and there are some bus options described on the parkrun page.

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From Belfast, I flew to Manchester, which was cheaper than Leeds, and took a train from there, about 90 minutes.

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Facilities:

I’m not sure about loos or showers, but Poppy’s Coffee van was doing good business after the run with a range of delicious sounding hot chocolates and lattes.

 

IMG_2735 - CopyFor leaving your jacket etc beofre the run, many opted for the time honoured “hang it on a fence” tradition, and one of the volunteers had a basket at the start line to collect any discarded coats and belongings.

Course:

People tend to congregate at the finish line, before heading to the start, at the far side of the track.

You can cross the grass, which can be wet and puddly, or take the slightly longer route on the tarmac path which forms the parkrun route.

The first timers briefing at the start was warm and freindly and assured first timers that this was the best day of their lives!  The course is 1 and 1/2 circuits, and is dead flat.

IMG_2748I could be critical and say it’s a bit boring, you definitely have to dig deep and “just keep running!”, and I’d wished I’d brought some headphones so I could have some music or a podcast.

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Crowd:

This used to attract 700-800 ish runners each week until the recently started Heslington event at the University.  Perversely, I was staying on Heslington Road, and this would have been a closer course, but, letter Y!  There were just over 500 runners when I visited, and a couple of fellow cow-cowls said hi.  My son didn’t have any running gear with him, but opted to walk along with the tail walker.

 

IMG_2757It’s a dead flat all tarmac course, so very accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.  I saw a couple of doggies (Hi Maggie!) and a blind-guide running pair, and I was in the tailwind of a lesser spotted 100 parkrun jacket most of the way.  There were some pacers, and some “walk a minute run a minute” guides as well.

IMG_2741 - CopyIt’s also very fast – there were 3 sub-17 times on my visit, and the course record is an astonishing 14:37.

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The funnel gets quite muddy after all that.

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Gear:

My Garmin behaved, I could’ve done with music, and my shoes were…well, I always travel in my second best trainers.  That way, if I need to ditch some weight before the return leg it won’t break my heart.  And when I dug out my Karrimors to travel in, I realised I’d last worn them at the Castlewellan Cracker, and they were still carrying a muddy sheen…

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Time:

I haven’t run for at least 3 weeks, but honestly, a time of 37 minutes on this flat course is tut-worthy. I usually do a Scottish skip-change-step over the finish line, but as I was at a racecourse I opted for a Miranda-style gallop instead.

And the rest:

I loved my visit to York – walking on the walls, queuing to get into one of the Harry Pottter shops that are now taking over the Shambles,

 

IMG_2767giggling at the plastic dinosaur in the nativity display at York Minster, going to the Cilla show at the Grand Opera House,

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bacon butties at the Dyl cafe in one of the old buidlings on a bridge,

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a Yorkypud wrap,

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and seeing Tim Peake’s capsule at the Railway Museum.

 

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All My parkruns:

 

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Spirulina pancake

IMG_2700I’d bought some powdered spirulina when I was “veggie for November”, but never got round to using it. Since then, I’ve been trying to find a palatable way of including it in my diet, but have struggled with its gloopy texture and vivid black green colour.

Added to a shake or smoothie it’s OK, but only cos it’s a small amount that I can choke down.
I’d tried it in porridge and took one mouthful before throwing it away.
But I’ve found an easy and acceptable way to eat it – mix it with egg and make a flat crepe.

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Ingredients – 1 medium free range egg, 1 tsp spirulina powder, and 1 heaped tsp milled chia seeds. These are all big protein hitters, so the resulting dish has 111 calories, 10g protein and 4g carbs.

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Whisk the egg well to make it as frothy as possible, before stirring in the spirulina and chia. Spray a flat pan with 2 squirts of 1 cal oil, and pour in the green batter. Let it cook on one side before gently flipping over to cook the other side. It’s fairly solid so you don’t need to worry about it breaking. I had it cut into triangles with some humous.

I’d definitely make a few of these at the weekend and use them for breakfast or even as a wrap for lunch They’d even come in handy on low calorie days.

Veggie for November: the final week (and a bit)

First things first, and why I’m doing this, the fundraising link!

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/lindas-veg-pledge-7

 

So, into the final week and a bit.

Thursday – breakfast toast with almond butter and banana

Lunch leftover shephereds pie – note to self, plastic Chinese takeaway cartons are not microwave proof!

Veg box delivered – did a stir fry for dinner.

Friday – used the other half banana and some kale in a smoothie for breakfast.

Lunch was some broccoli blue cheese soup from the freezer

Dinner -a vegan pad thai recipe which was gorgeous, and I will be doing this again!

Saturday

Pre parkrun toast and cottage cheese.

Lunch was cheese and crackers

Dinner was sausage mash and onion gravy (Linda McCartney bangers for me);  Love my red onion gravy.

Sunday – had a lazy relaxed morning, and made myself a fry up with potato bread using the leftover mash.

Found a meal that we could both eat for dinner -mushroom ravioli with a tomato and roast pepper sauce, with garlic cheesy bread.

Monday: I wasn’t feeling too good, and managed a boiled egg and some dry toast, but spent most of the day in bed.

Tuesday – I explored the options in Boots, and was sdaly disppointed – cheese or egg sandwiches, or a veg sushi snack.  I did get excited at the idea of a higedy pie roll with feta and red pepper.  It was rather dry and claggy – a bit better when microwaved. But not something I’d be rushing to eat again.

I still had tofu to use up, so replaced it for mozarella in a caprese salad – with fresh basil, this was rather good!

You say tomato, I say tofu, crazy, caprese, let’s eat the whole thing up!

Wednesday – I’d bought some quorn cocktail sausages, so I’m using them up.  Had a couple for breakfast, and a couple more in a salad lunch.

I was at a party in the evening, and I have to say the veggie options were slim pickings.  The only sandwiches I could eat were egg (thank goodness with no raw onion).  Though the desserts are where it’s at for veggies!

 

Thursday – last day of the month!

I treated myself to lunch at Yo Sushi,and I struggled to get round the veg menu, having to get help from the staff. Too much mayo and deep fried–ness in the mix.

Final Thoughts:

This really wasn’t a hardship.  But it took some planning.  Cooking for myself, bringing my own lunches – great options.  Relying on what’s available in supermarkets and when travelling – limited and poor nutritional choices.

I’m keen to bring more veggie dishes into our repertoire.  My dyed in the wool carnivore husband may take some convincing, however….

Veggie for November: Week 3

Veggie for November: Week 2

Veggie for November: Week 1

 

 

 

Veggie for November: Week 3

I can feel I’m getting into a bit of a swing here – I know what works for me at home, and I’m tuning in to the letter V on dishes advertised on menus and cookbooks.

Wednesday:

This was a low calorie day.  I had a veg ploughmans for lunch ( carrot sticks, mini babybel, pickle and a tomato), and a stirfry for dinner with zero calorie noodles.

Thursday:

Blueberry and chia seed oveernight oats. Lunch with Mum and Dad and sis at Howard Street – had the goast cheese croquettes with salad.  I was staying in town to go to my running club’s evening at Pure Running (where I bought some new trainers) and then on to Dundela Scottish Dance Class, so dinner was kind of …crisps and a cereal bar en route.

Friday:

Breakfast – blueberry and chia smoothie.

Snacky lunch of Boots sushi, Holland and Barrat meat free pepperoni, crisps and apple.

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Dinner was a Jamie dish of roasted cauliflower with pineapple, chickpeas and almonds, with a mango chutney and yoghurt dip. This was really good, and I wll be doing this again!

Saturday:

After parkrun I had some toast and marmalade. The afternoon included a sandwich and bun extravaganza at Portadown Scottish Dance class’s 60th anniversary do! Dinner was a tapas affair with cheese croquettes, saute potatoes, and a bean and kale dish.

Sunday:

It was finally dry enough to do some gardening, after which I tucked into boiled egg and soldiers. Late lucnh was a goats cheese pizza, and supper of baked camembert and harissa parsnips.

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Monday:

A low calorie day.  Lunch was a rather tasty “Look What We Found” soup of sweet potato and coconut. Dinner after running training was a few rye crackers with cottage cheese.

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Tuesday:

After laughing my way through “Carry On Nigella” last night, I was inspired to do a sort of pasta dish with a sauce made with tomatoes and quark.

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Huge thank yous to Emma and Beth, who have got the fundraising off to a start!

Veggie for November: Week 2

Veggie for November: Week 1

Veggie for November: Week 2

On Wednesday I had a wonderful day off!

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I started by making a super smoothie finishing off my frozen red berries, with some cacao powder and quark.  I had a dance class in the morning, and was heading straight to the Chinese supermarket afterwards, so lunch was a snacky mix of cereal bar and cheese.

I stocked up on all sorts of goodies at the supermarket, including various forms of bean curd for protein.

For dinner, there was some leftover cheesey pasta, to which I added some spinach, and topped with a poached agg and a slice of processed cheese.  These tend to accumulate in the fridge and I hate to waste them!

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On Thursday I was having a low calorie day.   I made myself a 100 calorie salad for lunch with 1/3 tin of white kidney beans (they were 15p in BM bargains), with red onion and tomato, and my new fave seasoning, red pepper flakes.

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Dinner was a super spicy stirfry with zero noodles, including strips of carrot, and some rose bean curd.  It was gorgeous, if a little spicy!

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Thursday was also veg box delivery day, so I had fun thinking of the various meals I could make, and puzzling over what to do with a giant turnip.

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Friday, and my lunch was a “bitsa this, bitsa that”, including homemade guacamole and carrot sticks, and some fabulous Iranian dates stuffed with walnut.  I have a glut of carrots at the minute, so I am making myself eat a carrot a day.

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I love Friday evenings spending my time in unhurried cooking, and so I stuck on some old school tunes from The Corrs and Seal, and danced around the kitchen making Jamie Oliver’s Keralan curry.  I wouldn’t normally put pineapple in things, but this was really tasty.  And I made enough to freeze a portion.  Result!

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Saturday morning was another dance class –  I set myself up with a slice of wholemeal toast with cottage cheese and blueberries, and lunch was a cheese and crackers working affair duing a committee meeting.

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I then made a vegan shepeherds pie, using some of my turnip in the topping along with parsnip.  I made half of it totally vegan, to give my sister, but I added cheese and butter to the topping on my half.  Again, there was a portion for the freezer.

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My usual Sunday morning brunch is a boiled egg.  I often do more than one, so that there’s hard boiled eggs ready to go for lunches and snacks – handy portable protein for 80 calories. I usually paint a face on the hard boiled ones to avoid confusion!

For dinner, I tried a Deliciously Ella dish of saute potatoes, wilted kale, tomato and humous.  An unusual mixture, but I would repeat it. There were supposed to be some jarred artichokes as well, which my storecupboard astonishingly lacked.

Monday was another low calorie day.  I’d made a sort of coleslaw with grated turnip and carrot in quark, but I couldn’t manage to eat it –  the first real disaster on this journey.

Dinner was good old eggs again, made into a fritatta with potato and mushroom, and a  few tasty cubes of feta.

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As often happens, the day after a fast day I don’t really feel hungry, counter intuitive as that sounds. So on Tuesday I just had a handful of blueberries with my cup of tea.

Lunch was high protein cottage cheese with tomato, kale and walnut, which was a satisfying mix of textures.

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And there may be no such thing as a free lunch, but I managed to get a free dinner at a new chip shop, by checking in on Facebook at Chipmongers – and they were grrrrrrrrreat!

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Summary: Still on the hunt for veggie haggis, so I can make neeps and tatties to use up my turnip mountain. Still on the hunt for seitan, another protein source.  Still no donations to my fundraising site.  But one happy vegan sister and two handy homemade meals awaiting in the freezer!

Donate here!

Veggie for November: Week 1