222 or tutu too at Tymon

The distance between milestones can seem awffy long, so I often find different challenges or number of runs to celebrate.  Usually with a sutiable outfit.  And cake, of course.

My 222nd parkrun was due to take place on 22 September.  I liked that coherence already, and started to research which parkruns would be having their 2nd birthday, or 2nd, 22nd or 222nd runs.  And lo, my friends in Tymnon, Dublin were having their 222nd event on the same day. I got in touch, asked how they felt about a theme, and did they prefer 2 little ducks or Desmond Tutu.  They laughed and we agreed on a tutu theme, one which reflects my dancing proclivities.

So, what to wear.  I already had a comedy number 2 which I’d pinned to my 100 shirt on the occasion of my 200th run.  I still had the black ribbon and the white fabric paint so another couple of number 2s were easily produced.

I’ve borrowed tutus from friends in the past (see Waggy Races Fairy Dogmother outfit), but felt it was time to invest in my own.  A black one was procured from Elliotts for the princessly sum of £4.75. Watch out for it being reused at Hallowe’en.

I persuaded hubby to come with me and make it a day trip, so thanks to him for the transport and photos.  Sat nav assisted we arrived just before 9 am to find the set up underway.

Last time I’d been here, there was just a table by the car park wall, but now they have use of the GAA facilities including an indoor space, and there were sweets aplenty, as well as a special rocky road cake.

I got a shout out in the brief.  The course was somewhat changed form my last visit, a reminder to ALWAYS listen to the run brief.

The weather was cool and slightly damp, but compared to the gale force winds of recent weeks that made for very pleasant running conditions.  With Minnie’s assistance I easily managed a PB, dancing my way over the finish line before enjoying some pleasant chat over the post-run goodies.

I was very touched by the gift that they had made for me – a large pebble painted with the date of the run on one side, and an uncannily accurate portrait of me on the other.  What a really lovely idea!  I made it my FB profile pic, and tweeted “Free Weekly Timed”, the podcast, that this week’s three words were “personalised tutu stone”.

 

Thank you to all at Tymon who made this such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning,

https://twitter.com/tweertweet/status/1043625058294489088

and who even tweeted a short video

 

of me dancing across the finish line!

parkrun tourism: Delaware and Raritan Canal

event #53 parkrun #219

I’m not sure if this one qualifies for the longest name of any parkrun, but I’m sure glad I didn’t have to get it to scan or rhyme in my “50 Ways” video!

Having missed out on Crissy Field last year (I may have mentioned this a couple of times….) I literally whooped with delight when I discoverd that a brand new parkrun was starting up which was reachable from New York, and that I would be there on a Saturday!  And so for their event number 3, I set off to join them on my first one outside UK and Ireland.

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Access:

OK, so it’s doable from Manhattan, but only by the really dedicated and serious tourist! It’s in New Jersey, so the NJ Tranist system is your first friend.  We were staying on 35th Street, just a couple of blocks from Penn Station, and I’d timed how long it would take us to walk there in time to catch a 7 am-ish train.  Your next and most important friend is the Facebook page.  So far, this has been outstanding at giving advice and and arranging station pick-ups for visiting tourists, and it was from FB that I contacted Neil, who offered to pick us up from New Brunswick station.  A return train ticket cost $28.  If you were going to get a taxi or Uber from there, it’s about 8 miles away.

A fellow tourist travelled out from her more southerly Manhattan base via the PATH, getting a lift at Bridgewater.  There definitely needs to be a volunteer credit for these fabulous local folk!

Facilities:

The Park is huge, and there is good parking and some restrooms nearby.  No cafe on site, and the usual meet-up spot was closed for Labor Day when I was there. It was very hot and humid in September, so do bring some water and maybe a small towel.  Start and finish are very close, so it’s easy enough to leave coats and bags there.

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Course:

The pre-run brief takes place by the lovely wooden bridge across the canal, and the start is on the far side.  From there it’s an out-and-back along the side of the canal, with a turnaround point well marked, and across the bridge to finish. There’s one section of brick slipway, where you need to watch your step, but it’s flat the whole way.

Crowd:

Young and enthusiastic!  parkrun is still just getting going in the States, and there were only 36 runners there on my visit.  I’m sure it will be a “must do” for dedicated tourists, in the future, as well as attracting more home grown participants.

Time:

Running in the heat and humidity is hard work, especially for an Irish woman more used to the wind and rain.  But I was happy enough with my 32-ish time, and even more delighted that I grabbed a new age-category record.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I was running with no music, enjoying the sounds of the cicadas, but I did use the old Perry Como hit “What did Delaware” as my Cracker Says Facebook post.

 

All my parkruns

parkrun tourism: Orangefield

event #52      parkrun #218

Determined to regain my Norn Irn Regionnaire status, after missing the inaugural a few weeks ago, I headed to East Belfast.  I’ll need to find a suitably sized bead to add to my T shirt.

 

This is an area I know well, in fact one of my previous addresses was in Orangefield Crescent.  Back then, when my children were teenies, we knew this park for its spider shaped climbing frame. The spider is long gone, but the whole area has been very well revitalised, and the park is clean and tidy with some lovely bridges, each of which has a name.

Access:

There’s plenty of parking spaces across the road at the playing fields, and the 5A or B metro bus will leave you pretty close from the city centre.  This is Belfast’s 9th parkrun, so visitors will have plenty of options.

Facilities:

There’s a loo by the main entrance, but you’ll need 20p!  (There’s a big Tesco not far away on Castlereagh Road that you could try). There’s no sheltered spot to congregate in, so no teas/ coffees so far.

Crowd:

There were just over 100 runners the day I visited, which is a nice size.  Good age range too, with lots of speedy younsters, and some sprightly older people too.  A few buggies and doggies, and some walkers, give it a good diverse feel.

Course:

It’s one small lap and then 3 larger ones.  This can get a wee bit confusing, so it helps to count how many times you’ve passed a certain bridge or other landmark.  The paths are a good hard surface, and some of the course goes through woodland so it’s trail.  The first lap can get a bit bunchy, but there’s plenty of grass to the sides for overtaking.  And by the time you’re on lap 3, most of the fast guys have finished, so there’s a bit more room.  It’s not totally flat, but the hilly bits are nothing to fear.  The final stretch is across grass into the finish funnel.

Update:

I revisited a few weeks later, and the course has been altered slightly, and now doesn’t run on grass at all.  I suspect the earlier version was a leeeetle bit short, and so I didn’t manage a PB.  But I DID manage to grab the final seconds on my “parkrun Bingo” so the lack of PB was worth it.  Honest!

 

Thanks to my daughter for the action shots.

Gear:

I wore my 50 events T shirt, though as this was my 52nd, it is rapidly becoming out of date.  My Garmin refused to find a GPS, but it still told me the time, which was good enough.  I knew as I passed the finish line at 9.50 that there was no way I’d completed in 20 minutes, so I must have another lap to do.  I’d replaced the lenses on my running sunglasses with a lighter pair, and they were great when moving from sunny open paths to shady trees.   My Hokka trainers were well suited to the mixed terrain, and I wore my skirty-calf-length leggings.  The only problem with these is they don’t have a pocket, so I had to tie my keys to a strap on Minnie’s running harness.  Only cow cowl I saw (as Andrew and other-Minnie keep forgetting theirs……)

Strangely Appropriate Song:

I tend to run without headphones these days, so I wasn’t listening to anything during the run.  But I was singing loudly to The Dixie Chicks and “Some Days You Gotta Dance” in the car.

Time:

I wasn’t pushing myself to the limit, so I was really pleased with a 28:27 time, my fastest since February this year.  I’m sure I’ll be revisiting at some stage to try to sneak a cheeky wee PB.

 

All my parkruns

 

parkrun tourism: Dungannon Park

Event #51 parkrun #217

There’s always a debate about whether to attend inaugurals or not. For a regionnaire, the temptation is to keep that status up to date. But some parkruns prefer a soft launch so that they are not overwhelmed by unusually high numbers on day one, putting their volunteer team under stress. However, I hadn’t seen any requests to stay away from the first outing for NI’s newest baby, Dungannon Park. And so off I went!

Access:
There is a camping/ caravan park situated here, so the brown signs are very helpful. Directions on the parkrun page are spot on, and I only had a teeny disagreement with my sat nav before pulling into the car park. It’s just over 30 miles from me, practically all motorway, so about a 35 min journey. Definitely a feasible one to repeat easily.

Crowd:

I’d expected more at an inaugural: there were about 150, so I imagine the usual numbers will be about half that.  Local running clubs were well represented, there were a few dogs (Hi, other Minnie!) and at least one pram.  The RD and volunteer team were very friendly and welcoming.

Course:

The start is in a wide clearing a short distance from the car park.

This makes it easy for some speed-self-seeding, and the runners have thinned out by the time they get to a slightly narrower path around the lake.  There is a bit of a tight bridge at the top of the lake, but good running etiquette will prevent this becoming a bottleneck.

Past a stunning waterfall, up a short hill,

and then through the trees before reaching a rather challenging hill!

2 laps and a bit, so the finish line is a bit away from the start line, should you wish to leave coats and belongings somewhere.  The ground is either tarmac or gravel.  It is a very pretty course, with ducks, flowers, and some lovely foresty trail paths.  Minnie gives it paws-up!

Facilities:

Being at a caravan park, there is an excellent toilet block.  There are showers too, but they may only be available to people staying there.  If you were touring Ireland by motorhome or camping, this would be one to add to your itinerary. There is also a very pleasant cafe with a tempting array of ice creams!

Time:

I haven’t been running a lot recently, so I’m easing myself back in gradually.  I was happy enough with my pace on the first lap, but allowed myself to stop and take photos on the 2nd.  What is it I always say?  Never knock yourself out on a first visit – make it easy to come back and PB!  So a 32 minute bar which I will definitely be back sometime to beat.

Strangely Appropriate Song:

I was running without music – it does help when with a dog, to be able to call out and hear other people telling you where they are overtaking.  Plus running through woods like this I always like to listen to the sounds of nature.

And the rest:

I’ve missed parkrun recently becuse I’ve been away doing a dance course.  And I’ve just found out that I passed!  So there was a spring in my step, and a lightness in my soul.  And if you need a Scottish dance ceilidh some time, give me a shout 🙂

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

parkrun tourism (and half cowell!): Castleblayney

Well whaddya know, I’ve only gone and run my half Cowell! Now my loverly tracker I had created to mark my progress to this, my 50th different event, so it was with some emotion today that I coloured in the final square on the L. I’d chosen Castleblayney as my mother had lived there for a while when she was a wee girl. She still reminisces about having to walk a mile to the National School, where they were taught in Irish, but all she can remember is ta rasha fada, ta rasha Fol (fly away Peter, fly away Paul).

Access:
Google maps offered me a choice of 3 routes, all of which would take me around 1 hour and 8 minutes. My own sat nav couldn’t recognise “Castleblayney”, so I chose the familiar outward route down to Dundalk and turn inland at junction 17. Crossing the winding Irish Border a few times as I headed west, the roads were good and nice to drive on, a few tractors to sit behind, but a very pleasant drive. The instructions on the parkrun page were good, and was pulling into the ample car park at Muckno Street well before 9.  The sat nav took me back through Keady and Armagh, so a few additional broder crossings…..

Facilities:
Parking aplenty, I did struggle to find loos onsite (though they were available in the little room used afterwards).

Crowd:
Numbers are small here, you are guaranteed a good finish position!  Youngish crowd, and Minnie and I were thrilled to meet little puppy Charlie.  No doubt he will be barkrunning at some stage in his future!

I got chatting to a couple touristing from London, whose local was Ally Pally, and who were also visiting family at Dundalk.   They were fascinated that my parkrunDANCER challenge had used those particular runs for the D and A.

Course:

I do love a forested course, and this was delightful.  Two laps through beautiful trees and shrubs, past lakeside and ducks, and foxgloves and rhododendron and a crumbling pile that I really want to win the lottery and restore. The path is compacted stone, there’s a few testing inclines, and I swear that second lap is longer than the first. It’s quite narrow in parts, if you need to overtake.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

I’m still working on running without headphones, but Classic Rock FM on the way down played Supertramp and “It’s Raining Again”. The weather on the way down was very wet, with a lot of surface water, but as I reached Castleblayney a little patch of blue sky appeared and the sun shone for as long as needed during the run.  Being so tree lined, there’s plenty of shade from the sun.

Gear:

My Garmin actually worked, for once!  I wore my cow leggings, Hoka trainers, and I’d adapted my milestone 50 Tshirt to list all 50 of the events.  This Tee had previously done duty as a 150 T, so I had to find a way of disguising the additional 1, hence the hashtag coverup.  I got talking afterwards to some people interested in running with dogs, so I showed them my waist belt and running line.  Having arms free is good, dog on a short but bungee line, and dog using a harness that pulls from the body/ chest rather than the neck.  No extendable leads, no way no how.

Time:

I was pretty happy with a sub-30.  I did my usual fast start, and was overtaken by 3 females, and so ending as 5th female encourages me that I can return some time in the future and nab a podium position!

And the rest:

It was all about the cow.  I’d put a lot into preparing for this.  I’d had the T shirt printed (huge thanks to Paul Knight at Print NI), and worked out how I was going to do a cake. Sainsburys came up with the yellow and black icing, and the “decorate it yourself” cake.  Lakeland had the cow cookie cutter.  And if I say I used Stolichnaya vodka for the cleaning of the cake do you think they might send me free samples?

I know there were some photos taken on the day, but I haven’t been able to access them.  When and if I can, I will add them in.

 

Coming soon – “50 ways to reach a parkrun – da movie!”

 

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: Oldbridge

parkrun #208 event #49

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It had always been my plan to use the lighter mornings in spring and summer to tick off some of the Irish parkruns that are about an hour – hour and a half away from me.  Living south of Belfast, and close to the motorway junction, the journey to Oldbridge, Drogheda, was very straightforward, and on a balmy May day, was very pleasant indeed.

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Access:

The event takes place in the Oldbridge estate, site of the Battle of the Boyne.

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So there are plenty of brown tourist signs guiding the way.  My trip took me over the fabulous Mary Macaleese Bridge, and you will need euro coins for the toll (1.90 at time of writing.  Notes are accepted also).  There’s plenty of car parking. It was a little late starting the day I visited due to an Orange March, but I gather this is a once a year thing.

Course:

The course is mostly grass underfoot, so it can get slippy, and trail shoes would be a good option.

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It starts down near the wooden triangle huts, runs up to and in front of the big house, up a short sharp incline, along a ridge, into a field for a lap, back along the ridge and down the incline, and a few more field laps, with no repeated sections. Finish is close to the start, and you can leave keys in a bag, coats and water bottles under a tree where the scanning takes place. All the junctions are well marked or marshalled.

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There are some fabulous old trees in the estate, so there is occasional shade, but a lot of the course is quite exposed.  I can imagine during the winter it is a testing course. Fantastic views of the suspension bridge!

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Facilities:

Ther are nice clean loos in the car park, and a cafe on site, though runners are asked to change out of grassy shoes if they are going indoors.

Crowd:

Typical numbers are about 100, mostly youngish.  There were a few other dog runners there, I don’t think the course would be easy for buggies or wheelchairs. I didn’t get a chance to stick around afterwards, but everyone was friendly and chatty at the start.

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Gear:

It was a warm morning, over 20 degrees even at this time of day, but with a bit of a breeze.  I was glad I’d opted for the sleeveless apricot shirt and calf length trousers.  My garmin died half way round, and I wasn’t using headphones.

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Time:

Minnie was struggling in the heat towards the end of the run, so we tucked in just over 30 minutes.  Don’t worry, we’ll be back some time and I can snatch a PB!

All My parkruns:

summary list of parkruns

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parkrun tourism: Griffeen Park

Run #207, event # 48, alphabeteer letter G

 

Being an alphabeteer is sometimes frustrating.  We are all still waiting for someone to start a parkrun beginning with X, and the currently available Zs are a loooooong way away.  But even within the UK and Irish set there are some letters that really ought to be more easy to capture than they are.  One of those is letter G.  I was disappointed on a recent visit to Glasgow to find no letter Gs there, but I always enjoy ticking off another Dublin parkrun, and so I planned to combine my visit to the annual Dublin Scottish Dance Club dance with a trip to Griffeen Park.  And was keen to show off my new bobble cow hat!

Access:

Griffeen is in a somewhat residential area west of the M50, near Lucan.  In fact my sat nav took me first to a cul de sac of houses at the back of the park.

But a quick consult of the course map on the parkrun page led me round the corner, where there is a small car park.  There’s a GAA field in the park as well, so the car park can fill up quite quickly.

I was there typically early (I always allow for sat-nav disagreements) but when I was leaving there were quite  a few vehicles parked on the nearby verges.  There are no loos in the park.

Crowd:

I apporached a small group of people who looked like runners, who assured me that I was in the right place, and chatted to me in a very welcoming and friendly fashion.

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Paul was most interested in my alphabet challenge, and Pat the first timers briefer made sure I got a shout out in the tourist welcome.  The average number of runners is 150,  it was a glorious sunny day when I was there, and there were 183 there, including some newbies.

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Course:

2 laps, fairly flat, across 2 bridges and past some lovely shrubs and trees.

The start and finish are beside each other, and there’s a box for leaving keys in.  All the junctions are well signposted and/or marshalled.

 

Gear:

I deliberately had no watch or ear phones with me, in fact the only thing on my wrists was my barcode.  I’d been low-carbing all week, and so had been trying to get more in tune with my body.  So I wanted to be aware of how it was coping, and tell it to get a move on into the fat-burning mode! Part of low carbing involves drinking copious amounts of water, which I had been doing.  Except for Friday when I dialled it back a bit in view of the 3 hour car journey I had to take.  So my mouth on Saturday morning was extremely dry.

Anyway, having no headphones allows for a bit of banter with the marshalls and fellow runners.

Time:

I’m still struggling to get anywhere near 30 mins, but I really enjoyed my 33 minute canter around, and finished with my usual skip-change-step over the finish line.

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Post-run:

I’d planned to join the crew at the local Starubucks, but my sat nav couldn’t find it.  Instead I ended up in Lucan, where there was a service station and Macdonalds complex, including a healthy food place called Chopped, where I tucked into a lovely omelette with ham, tomato and feta.

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And the rest:

It was quite the weekend of dancing!  I’d thoroughly enjoyed Hofesh Schecter’s “Show” at the Mac on Thursday evening, full of macabre energy and pulsating rhythym. I treated myself to some glimpses of new workds on Saturday afternoon as part of Dublin Dance festival, and danced the night away with our Dublin friends on Saturday night, donning my fascinator in order to be properly attired for the day-appropriate “Haste to the Royal Wedding”.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

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