October to December 2013 (Part 2)

A quick 3 month progress report on my 50×50 challenge.

The parkrun part of my challenge is going very well approaching the end of the first three months. 13 down, 118 to go. Ahead of target.

Including today’s two New Year’s Day ‘extras’ I’ve done 13 parkruns since starting my challenge, including 4 new courses. Hopefully I’ll squeeze one more parkrun into the first three months next Saturday. I’ve only missed one saturday parkrun, when I volunteered instead because of a 10k the next day, and also missed the Christmas Day extra run last week. I’m therefore well ahead of target on runs completed, so have a few ‘in the bank’ in case of injuries or an attack of laziness.

Including parkruns before my challenge started (and ignoring Christmas Day and New Years Day), I’m now on a ‘streak’ of 18 consecutive parkruns run or volunteered at. My best parkrun ‘streak’ ever. Don’t worry, clothes are remaining firmly on! The ‘Chase the Place’ competition by parkrun and Lucozade was a great motivator too. I completed that (along with just over 4,000 others) but didn’t bother entering the draw in the end, because I wouldn’t be ready for a Spring Marathon even if I had won the place.

parkrun time improvement not so hot at the moment. In fact no actual improvement since the 23.06 at Riddlesdown the week before my birthday and the start of this challenge. Sub 23 is tantalisingly close but stubbornly staying out of reach. Oh well, nobody said this would be easy. My excuse is that my focus has been on extending my Sunday long runs rather than knackering myself the Saturday before a long run. Sounds like a good excuse to me ! Mud is also another excuse. My two main venues, Riddlesdown and Banstead are definitely slower in the winter (honestly!) because of the slippery conditions. After a couple of 25ish runs at Riddlesdown, blaming the mud, I finally got trail shoes and managed a 23.16 first time wearing them.

My 4 new courses have been Lloyd, Fulham Palace, Tonbridge and Clair, with Fulham Palace and Tonbridge being inaugural events. They are all relatively easy to get to from home. The beauty of parkrun is that they are all quite different.

Other events not on target, but not too worried yet. I completed the Brighton 10k on 17th November in 51.31. I was aiming for sub 55 so was pleased in that respect, but then thought…if only I’d pushed a bit harder I could have gone sub 50 ! Never satisfied. First medal added to my challenge stash anyway; 49 to go, and first of my 50 specific goals (complete a 10k) albeit about the easiest one. But you’ve got to start somewhere….as some ancient philosopher probably didn’t say.

Training mileage probably just about on target, despite Peppa Pig’s sneaky attempts to scupper me (see older post). Right now, I can’t be bothered totting it all up, but its all squirreled away in my Garmin Connect log for later nerdy inspection.

Other running highlights of the last three months…

  • Getting my first GPS watch…a Garmin Forerunner 10. Basic model but have really been enjoying it.
  • Getting my first ever trail shoes…Adidas Kanadias. REALLY make a difference at Riddlesdown in the winter.
  • Reading lots of running books…will eventually review some here…favourite so far ‘Eat and Run’ by Scott Jurek.
  • Have signed up for Jantastic, starting on 6th January. Can’t wait. www.jantastic.me
  • Totally addicted to several running podcasts. MarathonTalk and The parkrun show are just brilliant and really help to keep the motivation going.
  • I’ve signed up for the MarathonTalk training weekend in February. It’s at Sandy Balls in the New Forest. I know, I know; so many puns have already been done on the MarathonTalk forum and Facebook pages that I’m not even going to bother. Sounds like it will be a laugh.

That’s really it for now. Four and three quarter years to go. Roll on 2014.


Mud, rain and wind – a fantastic New Year’s Day !

I loved parkrun today with a New Year’s Day double header. Probably the muddiest 2 courses I’ve ever run, with driving rain and howling cold wind, but so exhilarating ! Just brilliant.

I did Riddlesdown at 9am and Roundshaw Downs at 10.15am. Both wet and windy, I think Riddlesdown wetter and Roundshaw windier !

Both times quite slow, even for me, 26.30 and 27.34, but in the circumstances, I’m very happy. As a measure of the difference a year makes, last year I didn’t do a New Year’s Day parkrun, but my first parkrun of 2013 took 30.41, and now I can do two back to back averaging more than 3 minutes faster per run, and that on top of a 13 mile long run on Sunday.

Loads of people were doing double headers, some going from Riddlesdown to Banstead, and many coming from Lloyd Park to Roundshaw. The atmosphere was even more communal than ever, with everyone discussing their plans. The dash from one run to another was a laugh, with lots of other cars on the same route, and luckily the roads were clear. I think most people on the roads at that time were mad parkrunners.

As ever, huge thanks to the volunteers, particularly today standing around the courses in the awful weather on New Year’s Day. Thanks so much.


Glad I had trail shoes – and this is after just the first run.

I blame Peppa Pig. October to December 2013 (Part One)

Well, running has been going reasonably well, the main part of my challenge not going to plan at the moment is keeping this blog up to date ! Time for a New year’s resolution. I’ll round up the last three months in a couple of posts and then try to do at least monthly next year. We’ll see.

My challenge didn’t got off to the best start, although not disastrous. My right knee was a bit niggly for the first few weeks. I could run on it, but it was one of those pesky ‘should I or shouldn’t I rest it?’ situations. I still ran, but cut back a bit and did steady runs rather than intervals or other foolishness.

The blame for the niggly knee lies firmly with Peppa Pig. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. For the last three years, my birthday treat has been a weekend at Peppa Pig World (that’s what comes from letting the five year old choose daddy’s birthday treat). So on the weekend before my birthday, I started with a parkrun. Riddlesdown this time. I hadn’t intended to push hard, but on the morning I felt good so decided to have a tilt at a years best, ending up with 23.06, my fastest time at any parkrun for nearly 7 years. I was thrilled.

But then, with rather stiff legs, we piled into the car for a 90 minute drive to Peppa Pig World. Not good for recovery. Then for the next two days I repeatedly crammed myself into various rides and contraptions mainly designed for people much smaller, younger and more flexible than me. I really felt my knees creaking when trying to scrunch myself onto George’s Dinosaur Ride.

Anyway, as these things do, the niggly knee cleared up and I don’t really know when I considered it ‘healed’, I just transitioned back into more usual training routine, probably around the start of November, and for the last two months I have been relatively injury free (Touch LOTS of wood or I will be struck down with a major injury tomorrow).

Main themes of the first three months have been…lots of parkruns, although not much time improvement, a few new parkrun courses run, a 10k in a time I was happy with and training mileage creeping up slowly, with long runs getting satisfyingly longer. More on these to follow in future posts.

A brush with celebrity

Another parkrun ticked off (only 129 to go) and another new parkrun course completed (only 48 to go).

I did the brand new Fulham Palace parkrun yesterday, 19th October 2013. My first ever inaugural parkrun and it was brilliant. Super job by the new event team, fantastic, scenic course beside the Thames, more 100 club shirts than I’ve ever seen together in one place and the presence of parkrun royalty!

The course is a flat, all tarmac, ‘almost three lapper’. Due to the excitement of the day, I went off a bit too fast for the first lap and paid for it later. However, before the off, I’d decided to aim for a steady 25 minute run and ended up just squeaking under 24 minutes (23.57), so I was pleased. I made up the time on the first couple of km and then slowed down dramatically, hanging on grimly until the end. Far from the fabled negative split, but very happy nevertheless.

I got position token 100, but later was ‘upgraded’ to a final official position of 99. My barcode was scanned by Danny Norman himself, host of the brilliant parkrun show podcast. Other ‘royalty’ included the man behind it all, Paul Sinton-Hewitt. For those not familiar with the parkrun show, or parkrun itself, the term ‘royalty’ is used very much tongue in cheek and these people are far from the huge egotists this term might suggest!

This was also my first parkrun using my new GPS watch, a Garmin Forerunner 10. The Garmin measured the course quite short, at 4.77km. I’m new to the black arts of GPS running, but I would have much more faith in the course measuring skills of the parkrun team than in the accuracy of GPS. I would be extremely surprised if parkrun had contrived to make a course 230 metres short! There’s a lot of tree cover on the course, and rather large, mature trees at that. Hopefully this threw the Garmin off a bit more than usual. This was only my second ever time running with the Garmin. If that is its general level of accuracy, I’ll be a bit disappointed, but my first run with it seemed closer to what I thought the route measured.

Lots of people were hanging about near the finish, socialising and cheering other runners in, it all felt very communal. I think a lot of ‘uber-tourists’ were taking the time to catch up with one another. ‘Uber-tourist’ is yet another parkrun show term for parkrunners who travel to lots of different events. I think you need 20 different events to be considered an uber-tourist, and inaugural events are particularly prized. This was my twelfth event, so eight more to go before uber-tourist status.

The cafe back near the start was open from 9am, and I’m sure it was thronged at this stage, but I didn’t hang around any longer as family duty called.

Overall a great run and a great new event.

1 down, 130 to go…

Completed the first event of my 50×50 challenge yesterday, 12th October 2013. A parkrun. One parkrun down, 130 more to go. 1 new parkrun course down, 49 new courses to go.

I did Lloyd parkrun near Croydon for the first time and it was great. Lovely course, friendly people, nice weather, easy transport. And huskies.

I finished in position 50, which I reckon is a good omen (although not being superstitious, I really reckon it was a lucky coincidence).┬áNot a PB course (definitely undulating) and I wasn’t trying too hard, honestly. Happy enough with time of 25.36 all things considered. This was my first parkrun in my new age category of 45 to 49, so I had thought my age grading might get a boost, but no. 55.40% compared to just squeaking over 60% for my last outing as a spring chicken 40 to 44 year old last week.