NI parkruns: Ormeau


My lovely Jog Lisburn crew like to do a bit of parkrun tourism now and again, and so we had chosen Ormeau, Belfast for our next assault.  We’re quite choosy – we like flatish courses, with not too many laps, and we do like a good bun afterwards.


It was Autumn when we visited, and so early in the morn, the shadows are long, and the sun low in the sky.


Access: Ormeau Park lies between the Ormeau and Ravenhill Roads, and it is definitely the Ravenhill end that you want to be aiming for.  There is an indoor tennis arena and football pitches onsite, and as I arrived a marshall ascertained that I was a parkrunner, and directed me to  dedicated gravel parking area.  Loos are available in the Ozone/ tennis centre.


Course: I loved the course.  It is basically 2 laps, although the second one incorporates an extra detour through the trees.  The signs for the start and finish, each km marking, and at each fork, are on wooden posts, and there are also plenty of marhsalls making sure no-one takes the wrong path.  There are lots of pretty features to look at en route, and to remind you that you’re in East Belfast, the Harland and Wolff cranes are visible at certain angles.


20140920_08595420140920_090325Gear: MapMyRun wasn’t playing ball with me, so I had No Idea how fast I was going.  It seemed quick – I was trialling my new Trixie belt for runningwithyourdog.  This has a stiff bungee cord to stop the dog catapulting you dangerously, and a grab handle to grasp if the dog sees a bird/ squirrel/ bicycle that they’d rather chase.  I was a bit worried that the lead was longer than my usual one, and I would die of embarassment if we impeded another runner, but it was fine.  We started at the back, I shot past the tail end of the pack on the grass to the side, and we soon found a wide space that I could let go of the grab loop, and let Mini pull me along. It has a little pouch for treats, poo bags and keys etc, which I found was best to position at my back.  We have a canicross event coming up soon, and I’m looking forward to using the belt in its intended context in the very lovely Tollymore Forest for the Waggy Races.20140920_09043120140920_090609


Strangely Appropriate Song:  Ormeau is another park that I am familiar with from days gone by – we used to live a stones throw away in Roseberry Road.  My teeny tiny children loved to play on the swings and slides, and when they were older on the BMX track, and my son had a teddy bears picnic birthday do here.  It was he who introduced me to Paramore, and as I’m working hard on my crap finish, it was “You go out in style” that made me smile.20140920_090139


Crowd:  I found it hard to hear the briefing at the start, but we got the usual types trying to befriend Mini (hint: don’t approach her, she’ll bark; come and talk to me, and she’ll come and say hello in her own time).  I did get chatting before hand to an English parkrun tourist, which was nice, and she took some photos for me.  They’re a young and fast group!


Time: My previous 4 parkruns had been in the 28s, so I was really hoping for a 27 something, and a sub-100 position.  MapMyRun being unhelpful,  I had to analyse what info was available to me: I felt it was fast, especially with the bungee lead.  I had finished, scanned, returned to my car, drunk my chocolate milk, Mini had had her bowl of water, and I was pulling out of the car park by 5 past 10.  But I’d been position 120! The text results were slow coming through, but late in the afternoon I learned that I’d achieved a time of 27:51, and was 4th in my age category.  4th!!!!!  An analysis of the results poured salt into that wound when I discovered that 2 out of those 4 were less than 10 seconds ahead of me.  But I always defer to my own scale; Under 30- good. Under 29 – great. Under 28 – brilliant. Under 27 – fabulous. Under 26 – standing ovation.


Post-run: Sadly, I had to run and, errrr, run, as I was heading for the birthday luncheon of my godfather and 70 year old uncle in BallyGally Castle.  And I’m not sure any of my co-runners stayed for post run socialising either.  Maybe we should go back and see what the buns are like.  I mean, I have  an age category target to conquer!

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

NI parkruns: Bangor


20150214_091107 I attended the inaugural parkrun in Bangor’s Ward Park, which took place in March 2014.  It was the first time I’d ever been at an inaugural do, an event so auspicious that even the mayor attended, and was imortalised by the cartoonist in the local paper.  Aside from the mayor and me, there were over 200 other attendees, easily the biggest event I’ve experienced.



At the inaugural do there were very welcome bacon butties at the finish, and on my subsequent visits it’s been clear that the post-run buns are Very Important, and there’s a rota for bun-makers.



Ward Park is on the far side of Bangor when coming from the Belfast direction, and can be approached either via the ring road or through the town.  There is ample parking, and loos are available by the bowling pavilion.


I have to be honest, I didn’t like the course.  It has a number of tight turns, doubles back on itself, and the paths are at times quite narrow.





I found myself hemmed in on a number of occasions, and I nearly cannoned into the back of a runner in front of me who stopped dead after having rounded one of the sharp bends.  The path runs alongside a small canal, where there is no guard rail.  Mini decided she was running a triathlon, and promptly jumped in!

20150214_091325There’s plenty of very cheeky squirrels around too.

After the unscheduled swim, I make sure that I always carry a towel with me.


Despite Mini’s dip in the water, I managed a respectable 27:27, in lucky position 100.

Oddly appropriate song:

Snow Patrol – Take Back the City.  The last time I’d visited Ward Park it had been to see these local boys turned superstars perform an open air concert.



It was certainly interesting to experience a First event – the hoopla and press attention, the huge crowds, and did I mention the bacon butties?  When I attended on Valentines Day, there were roses being handed out to some lucky finishers. And the training for sighted guides, to be able to make parkrun accessible to blind and visually impaired runners, took place at Bangor, and was extremely interesting.  I look forward to being able to working on my new skills in the future.20150214_10044020150214_100410

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

5:2 recipes – Chilli Crab Noodles

I find shiritake noodles an absolute saviour on fast days.  They divide opinion, some people find the texture just too rubbery, and they come packaged in an odd smelling liquid which has to be rinsed off first.  If you can find the ones with some added tofu (try an Asian grocery), they have a better texture and flavour, for marginally more calories.  They are sometimes known as konjac noodles.


Tinned seafood is another of my go-to foods when surviving on less than 500 calories. It has the added advantage of being high in protein, as well as darn tasty.  I have a 1 to 10 rule of thumb on protein foods – 10g protein for 100 calories is good going.  Crab packs in twice that rate, with a 100g of crab giving 12g protein for only 60 calories.


I decided to combine the 2 in a stir fry dish.  First I dry-fried the noodles, and then added pak-choi and chestnut mushrooms. For flavour, I added a cube each of frozen chilli and ginger, a squeeze of garlic paste, the juice of half a lime and a good slug of light soy sauce.


The result was a very flavoursome LARGE bowl of food for 150 cals, 10g carbs and 15g protein.