Runner of the Week

It’s been quite a week in the world of running.  Even though I did precious little ACTUAL running, I did manage to get to a Body Pump class, and strength work is very important in improving performance.

Firstly, I changed my car.  The little yellow Fiat 500 (Travis was its name) was very cute, and lots of people remarked that it was very “me”, but it was just too small to fit 2 large dogs in any way comfortably.  Minnie could fit in the boot, but it was a tight squeeze, and she had recently discovered that she could climb over into the back seat and beyond, which is just not safe.  Max could fit in the back seat with a seatbelt attachement, but it was a real palaver to get everybody in and out.

dogs in melvin

Room for everyone!

My main criterion when looking at a replacement car was the height of the sill into the boot area.  Many cars that would otherwise be great canine-friendly vehicles failed on this test.  And it was almost by chance that I happened upon the Nissan Note, but after taking it for a test drive I was pretty sure this was the car for me!

Both dogs fit comfortably in the back, and even Max jumps in without too much cajoling.  Little dog usually lives up to her nickname of “Moaning Minnie” in the car, but the whinging is definitely at a lower level, now that she has room to turn around and find a good spot.  As it is a blue Note, its name is Harold Melvin.

Next, I was featured in the parkrun UK weekly magazine, as “parkrunner of the week”.  I have to thank one of the Wallace run directors, Michael Harris, for nominating me, and the feature was spotted by parkrun chums on Mumsnet, h2g2, and Twitter.  My Mum was of course enormously proud, and is showing it to everyone.

parkrun newsletter

During Monday night’s training run, my headphone batteries died, so I had to resort to other distraction techniques.  I like playing with numbers in my head (I loved the Irish Eurovision entry last year of this name – shame it didn’t do better!) and I started working out how many parkruns Minnie has done with me.  Some were obvious – she hasn’t done the far flung ones like Derry or Limavady, and she hasn’t done any in Scotland or England.  MUSA is a no-dog run, and I knew there was one Bangor run I’d been without her as I was doing my sighted guide training.  The only question mark was Wallace.  She’s done MOST of the 72 runs that I’ve clocked up there, but not all.  I reckoned a generous estimate was that she’d missed 10 of them.  So she’s done over 90 in total.  I will be making her a 100 vest when the time comes, but meanwhile, I reckoned I could turn the purple T shirt she wore last week to Liz’s 100th run into a club vest.


It’s fun to run at the Wa—-llace parkrun!

So I ordered the letters DOG LISBURN from Amazon, and they arrived in time for me to iron them in place.

dog vest

Club T shirt

So now we had the attire, and the right mode of transport, where would we go?  Ecos and Bangor (both high on my list of “events where I’m sure I could run faster than last time”) were having birthdays, complete with cake.  Wallace was having its monthly pacer session, but it was the news that Stormont had re-measured its course, and it was now a good 100m shorter, that proved the most persuasive.

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Where shall we go?

The weather was not kind, and it was damp and miserable.  As we parked up in the hotel’s capacious car-park, and elderly gent joined us, admiring Minnie’s outfit.  He was pretty new to parkrun, so I gave him a rough idea of the course, but took him to say hi to the volunteers.  A few people recognized me from the parkrun newsletter, and I recognized a few people and dogs from other events.

stormont purple ladies

All the purple ladies, all the purple ladies, now put your hands UP!

The run itself went smoothly – I felt my pacing was pretty good, I wasn’t over-pushing myself too early, and Minnie’s impetus up the few hills was working well.  My previous best time here was 26.40, so I was hopeful that the shorter course would see me in the 25s.  As it was, I even managed to break 25, and came in as 4th lady in 24.56, with the 3rd best aged-graded percentage of the day.  Gotta love age-grading: as with many things in life, the trick is just to keep going.

Fellow Waggy-racers Claire and Cash (named after Johnny…) were first female finisher -well done!

stormont with cash

Well done Claire and Cash!

Strangely-appropriate-song on shuffle was “C-lebrity” by Queen with Paul Rogers, with the line “I wanna get my features in magazines” making me smile.



All the parkruns I’ve done







Deux chiens biens (et des canards, et un cynge….)

Mais je cherche encore pour un kingfisher….roi pecheurs?

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As I took my two pooches for a long perambulate, I found myself wondering how to give them commands in French.  F’rinsitance, if I say “Sit! Stay! Down!” it’s the same sound whether I’m talking to one dog or two.  But if I were to do the same in French, then the imperatives would be different – Asseyez-vous or Assieds-toi. Venez vs viens.  Restez, restes….do the dogs hear and understand the difference?  Or are all dog commands given using the “vous” form?  Curious minds want to know.

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French canine commands aside, we had a lovely walk, and spotted a gorgeous swan, reflected in the still waters, and a group of ducks.

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NI Parkruns: Citypark Craigavon

“Citypark” is a rather misleading name for this one, as it’s nowhere near a city! It is in the vicinity of Craigavon, though, with its many roundabouts to negotiate, and I was glad I had written out the directions on a piece of paper, and was travelling with a running companion to help me navigate.



It’s not too far off junction 10 of the M1, but check their web page for detailed instructions.  The course is one single lap around a pair of lakes next to the Watersports centre and civic centre.  There’s a good car park, and shelter/ loos in the watersports building, where coats, keys and barcodes can be left during the run.  It’s a pretty route through lots of trees, and while there a few ups and downs, there are no killer hills.



It was raining when I visited, but not heavily, and I opted for my short sleeved Jog Lisburn T shirt, with long trousers.  MapMyRun seemed to be working fine, but it told me I’d completed the 5k when I was still 400m from the finish, which threw my pacing calculations off slightly. I had my waistband pouch to hold poo bags, dog treats etc, my sweat-wristband which is useful for the runny nose I always get when running, and I utilise the white headband from last year’s colour run to act as a brake under my armband phone holder. Our Jog Lisburn T-shirts provided a conversation starter, and we were able to do our ambassadorial bit for the club.



It usually has in the region of 100 runners, with quite a few females taking part – I finished as 12th woman.  Mini was the only dog running, and as usual had a crowd of admirers coming to say hello. There’s tea, coffee, and water available afterwards, to enjoy over the post-run banter and comparing of performances.


Strangely Appropriate Song provided by shuffle:

With all the pacing calculations going on in my head, it had to be Stevie Wonder going “five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes!” from Seasons of Love.



Having PBed the previous week with 26:19, I was hoping that this less-hilly route would help me get under 26.  That meant pacing between 5 and 5:12 per km.  My plan was to run the first half as fast as I could, and I kept my pace around 5:03.  For the back stretch, I was aiming to hold position.  As I started the last km I was pretty sure I’d get a solid time, but then MapMyRun told me I’d completed the 5 when I was still some way off the finish.  So I wasn’t too sure of my actual finish time until the official text and email results came it, and was delighted to have broken into the 25s with a 25:57.

List of all the parkruns I’ve completed.

photohunt sturdy

My sturdy dog-walking boots, after a hard day’s tramping.

Photohunt Fluffy

Here’s baby dog, Minerva.

Mini the cocker spaniel

Compared to her big brother Max,, she’s decidedly fluffy! Weimaraners don’t take a lot of grooming, with their ultra short coats, but Mini’s had to have several baths, and be blow-dried with a hair dryer afterwards. My friend Marleen was enjoying making her hair stand up in a Mohawk 🙂

She’s starting puppy training class, and is a very good sitter. Now we’re working on recall, and walking nicely on a lead.

Photohunt circular

I often walk Max in Hillsborough forest on a Saturday morning. I gain a real sense of calm by being amongst those magnificent tall trees which have stood there for hundreds of years. There’s always something to marvel at in nature. This pattern of moss on the side of a tree caught my eye.

Circular moss patterns on the side of a tree

There were quite a few dogs around this morning, although the mood was a little sombre: earlier this week 2 huskies had escaped and were worrying some sheep, and unfortunately had to be shot. So while I let Max have a bit of off-leash time, I was very alert for any weak points in the perimeter fence.

Welcome Minerva

Well, on Saturday we collected our new addition – Minerva von Thunder (or Minnnie for short), a cute little cocker spaniel puppy. Her mum is black and white, and dad golden – she is mostly black with tan paws, chest and eyebrows. So far I find her really intelligent – I swear she has different noises for “I’m hungry”, “I need out”, “I’m sleepy”, and “I want to play”. And her latest game “Help! I’ve climbed all the way upstairs and now I can’t get down!”

Now, sleeping through the night is always difficult for a young pup – getting used to being away from the litter for starters, and then going for hours without feeding or peeing. She’s in Max’s old crate (which is a bit big for her) in the utility room, and we’ve taken to leaving the door open so that she can get out of the crate of she needs to pee or poo (newspapers on the floor). I can put in earplugs to ignore the noise until a semi-respectable 5.30 at least, but I think Max would like some doggie ear-plugs too!