Monday, 31 March 2014

Something slightly different....

It has actually been rather fortuitous that I've not been training, or even able to run that much at all, as I've been working many extra hours at work for the past few weeks. One of my colleagues was suddenly incapacitated by a stress fracture of his back, so those of us that didn't have prebooked leave have rallied round to ensure that patients are seen, we hit our targets for the year (they have to be submitted at the end of March), and to try to let our partner take the time to recover properly.

"French" after dinner chocolatemints

Not being able to get out for a stress-relieving run (lack of time, lack of energy, sore ribs etc) during the week has meant that weekends have become very precious and I've jumped at suggestions to do things that are slightly out of the norm for me.
A sudden invite from a friend meant that Friday evening saw me hopping on a train to London after work. I always forget how busy a big city is - a couple of friends met me at the station and suddenly I found myself surrounded by crowds of city dwellers all trying to get served at the bar. I did love the fact that you can meet people in one pat of London for a drink and then hop on the tube and go somewhere totally different for dinner. What an amazing dinner it was.......a cosy members-only French restaurant that you wouldn't spot from the street unless you knew it was there. All the (French) staff were helpful and friendly and there was also banter between tablespoon diners!

Another friend had invited me to visit his local parkrun (Southwark parkrun) so Canada Water was the destination of choice on Saturday morning. There was a skeleton staff of volunteers that day ( a run director and two marshals/timekeepers only) so you be have been forgiven for thinking you were in the wrong place until 8:55am when people suddenly started appearing from all directions.

It was a 3 lap course - flat but with some very sharp corners as you had to double back on yourself during each lap. Not only did you have to negotiate other runners on a different lap, but there were also some over friendly pigeons and moorhens near the lake. It was, however, a small friendly parkrun and I did enjoy it, and luckily I managed to keep the leading man in sight to get to know the route on the first lap. The cafe in the park had closed down, and so where else would you go for a second breakfast and coffee at 10am on a Saturday than the local Wetherspoons! Yum!

On my Boris Bike

Docked Boris Bike
On Sunday I had my first experience of a Boris bike. What a great idea they are! You pay £2 to hire a bike for as many ex as you like as long as each trip is under 30minutes (otherwise you pay more). The bikes have adjustable seats and 3 gears, which is all that I found I needed for the city streets. A negative point to the bikes is that they are rather heavy, so I did struggle trying to turn corners with my backpack on (though I should blame the injured ribs for causing the pain rather than the bike). Many streets are one way for cars but have a separate bike lane in both directions. It made the trip back to Euston (via some of the London parks) much more pleasurable (and cheaper) than a packed tube ride(s).

The grassy run-in

A flat section!!

The next weekend saw me and some friends at a completely different parkrun in Glasgow. Tollcross parkrun is not the place to go if you're after a fast run, but it's another small friendly run with an amazing course to test yourself over. "Hilly" would be rather an understatement if describing the route. You have to run 2.5 laps of the park and each lap has about 5 hills in it. The start is straight up a hill, so it was funny to watch the young lads sprint away from you on the "G" of Go, only to have to pass them before reaching that first summit. There were lovely views out over Glasgow to be seen as you tried to catch your breath. I kept going at a steady pace for the whole run, which meant I passed people on every lap, but the finish did catch me unawares. I thought I'd seen a glimpse of the white posts on the grass at the bottom of one of the descents (where you'd ordinarily turn 90degrees to the right), but when it came to it, you actually had a descent way to run on the grass (down and up a slight slope). One of the best things about the event was the milk and home baking that we all tucked into, before decamping to the cafe in the leisure centre (which is where the swimming will be in the Commonwealth Games). Another thing that impressed me was the family mentality of parkruns, which was shown at its best at Tollcross, as there were 8 members of the same family running (2 parents and their 6 children).


The concert programme
In the afternoon, I was over in Kirkcudbright rehearsing Mozart's Requiem with the Kirkcudbright Choral Society and some amazing soloists. The orchestral arrangement is quite unusual in that there are no flutes, oboes or clarinets, so the woodwind is just represented by 2 basset-horns and 2 bassoons, which gives it a lovely mellow sound. The bassoon parts are lovely to play, and the second bassoon part (mine) has some lovely melodies, rather than just playing an "on the beat" accompaniment. The choir fed us between the rehearsal and the concert - so I had a fascinating meal (talking about the NHS through the ages) provided by a local GP who retired in the 1970s. The concert itself was great, though I'm so out out practice at playing these days that I'm not sure if my lips, my cheeks or my ribs were the most sore afterwards. 

However, for the sake of everyone's eardrums though, I'll be back running more soon!

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