Burnage parkrun

Early January is a good time to get a few parkruns in, with events taking place on New Year’s Day (with staggered start times meaning you can sometimes manage two!) as well as all the Saturdays. This Saturday could have been my fifth parkrun of 2017 – however it was my first, as I’ve been lazy and ill and demotivated.

My good friend Maria has recently taken up running again and went to her first parkrun before Christmas. I’d promised that the next time I came to stay, we’d go to parkrun together. So we did!

The nearest event is in a park not too far from Maria’s house, where I’ve run a few times on my own. However it’s closed due to work going on in the park, so we had to head quite far out of town (lucky Maria and her husband have a car – big thanks to Joaquin for driving!).

We pulled into the carpark of a rugby club. I couldn’t see any signs for a parkrun but followed Maria down the side of a field, to a path along the river. A steady stream of people showed up until eventually there were over 200 runners.

The river path was concrete but fairly narrow, and a few people were running two abreast so it was hard to pass. After about 400 metres we took a sharp left onto a muddy path, passing through a field before being funnelled through a narrow path looping back to the start point. This bit was super narrow and almost at walking speed! Then we did that lap again.

After the second lap, we took a right along the side of the field towards the carpark, before crossing the carpark and turning left into the woods. I got elbowed by a woman who wanted to overtake but wanted me to move out of her way, rather than her going around me. Up ahead I saw people slowing to a halt and saw a set of stairs! I’ve never done a parkrun with stairs before. The top of the stairs was extremely slippery but there was gravel after that, leading back to the river path. Then we did the first lap again, a third time through the muddy field.

The final lap went to the carpark and into the woods again. By this point I was very conscious that I needed the loo! At the top of the stairs I took the long way round to try to avoid the worst of the mud, and then it was nearly done.

I rounded the corner into the finishing field and spotted Joaquin and Lucia. It was pretty muddy and I’m really unconfident in mud, so I didn’t sprint for the finish.

Maria wasn’t far behind, she was wearing a striking colour combination so we could spot her from a distance, and we gave her a big cheer as she crossed the line. She got a PB, despite the mud and the crowds (Burnage’s biggest ever attendance).

Immediately afterwards, it started raining – good timing to miss it! We got our barcodes scanned and then jumped in the car and headed home for cups of tea, toast and showers.

August running

Another month is over and I’m finally getting back into running.

2016 got off to a good start, with monthly km’s of 130, 134, 151 and 142 – the final, April, would have been higher if I hadn’t sprained my ankle on the 21st. In May I ran 70km, including an attempt at a marathon and another ankle sprain. June was a halfhearted 73km and July covered 87km.

I started August keen to turn things around. Matt decided he wants to take up running, with a 10k planned for the 1st October. He wanted to run every day, so I decided I’d do the same. I managed 12 days before I got home from work and fell asleep and didn’t wake up until the next morning.

I signed Matt up for parkrun and printed out his barcode, then forced him out of bed early on a Saturday morning, his 13th day of running. He didn’t seem convinced by the prospect (maybe a little nervous) but the lovely atmosphere at Southwark parkrun, and brunch afterwards, won him round. I paced him around to 29:04, a fantastic four minute PB.

Then Matt hurt his ankle and took a break from running.

I did a half ironman triathlon, and found the first ¾ of the run to not actually be that bad.wp-image-999633084jpg.jpg

Despite living really close to several parkruns, I’ve been quite lax about attending them, but decided to change this. On the 27th August it was the nation’s biggest sports day, and Dulwich parkrun were hoping for their largest ever attendance. I cycled over and ran, pacing really badly and running nearly 40 seconds slower than last time I went to Dulwich.

I finished the month on 123km – nowhere near where I’d like to be but an improvement on May/June/July.

Aims for next month:

Marathon training – week 8

Monday – after cutting short my Sunday run, I wanted to get in a nice long Bank Holiday run, but a bad night’s sleep and residual gusty winds from Storm Katie put paid to it. I really wasn’t in the mood, but ran up College Road listening to a podcast about the history of knitting, then along Crystal Palace Parade (where I gracefully side-stepped a discarded condom), then slowly did a few more hills and went home, not before being slapped on the leg by an empty coke can in a gust of wind. 12.2km.

Tuesday – no running.

Wednesday – no running, horrible headache

Thursday – no running as I had a friend to stay

Friday – woke up to a beautiful frosty morning and ran to work in the cold, fresh sunshine. Ah, spring! 5.1km.

Saturday – Dulwich parkrun with Neil, for the first time in ages! We’d arranged during the week that we’d run at 5 min/km and set off at about 5:10 min/km. The first km was fine and we were chatting a bit, the 2nd km I chatted less, by the 3rd I felt like I was hanging on, the 4th km I fell apart with my pace dropping to 5:41/km and on the final km I was just counting down the steps until we were done. It felt very hard and yet was almost 30 seconds slower than when I did this exact parkrun a few weeks ago, and I’m pretty disappointed about it. It was, however, great to hang out with Neil, and it was lovely and sunny, so I shouldn’t be too annoyed. 5km.

Sunday – another race, this time the Kingston Breakfast Run. I had a pretty upset stomach and as a result it was a challenging day! Race report here. 26km.

Total: 48.3km

Marathon training – week 7

Monday – no running

Tuesday – after the disaster that was my last try with a running club, my friend suggested that I come along to his running group. He runs with Run Dem Crew, a fairly high-profile group that I’ve always thought wasn’t really for me (too enthusiastic, maybe, for my misanthropic self, or just too cool). I turned up in Shoreditch feeling a bit apprehensive, especially when I found out that there was going to be lots of cheering and clapping beforehand. But actually, this bit was great, we cheered all the people who’d raced at the weekend, and there were some lovely race stories. Then we went out for a run. I joined the Greyhound group and we ran along at a very chilled pace, made even more chilled by having to stop at lights every 100 metres. We ran down to St Paul’s, then over the Millennium Bridge (“sprint if you want to!” Came a shout, so I did, but I was one of only a few) and along the Southbank to Leake Street, just behind the London Eye. Then we ran back, again with a sprint over the Millennium Bridge, and more traffic lights as we wound our way back to Shoreditch. People were very friendly and I enjoyed chatting and it was nice running along with someone else leading the way. The downsides are the location (Shoreditch isn’t convenient for work or home), having to run on busy roads/stop for traffic and a lingering feeling that I’m not cool enough. They said I can come back next week. 10km.

Wednesday – ate some cake, ran to a brewery, felt the beginnings of heartburn, ate a pizza, ran back from the brewery, had to take heartburn tablets. 3.7km.

Thursday – no running

Friday – no running

Saturday – did parkrun for the first time in ages. I ran over to Brockwell Lido and hung around feeling cold, but spurred on by the promise of mini eggs at the finish line, we set off. I find it hard to pace myself at this parkrun, but when I got to 4km and was done with the hills I tried to do some maths and work out how long it might take to finish but couldn’t figure it out so just ran, and managed to beat my time on this course by 45 seconds. Yes, still slow, but it was a little confidence boost that I can actually do it. 8.1km

Sunday – we went for a cycle during the day and had been lucky to avoid the showers, and I knew that I wouldn’t be so lucky with my run. It was very windy when I set out, and when I got to the top of Crystal Palace it started raining. I ended up sheltering in the doorway of a church for a minute at the top of Lordship Lane, and cut the whole run short as it was dark (turns out the clocks changing does not mean magic light!), wet and cold. 13km.

Total: 34.8km

Marathon training – week 4

Monday – I never normally do a recovery run but thought I’d give it a go. Turns out running is so much easier than walking, and the run to work was the easiest bit of the day! I wore my new trail shoes (for my entirely road route to work) and they’re very comfy for less than a tenner. 4.8km.

Tuesday – felt pretty gloomy about the race at the weekend and investigated joining a running club. My legs were still sore but I ran home from work with no dramas. 4.7km.

Wednesday – I planned to do a longer run to work but slept badly and couldn’t get motivated to leave the house. Instead I decided to try out my new shoes on my normal commute. My feet cramped a little between 2-3km but were fine by the time I got to work and the shoes feel pretty comfy. I stopped off at Waitrose to get a coffee and the coffee machine gave me steamed milk instead, which I only noticed when I’d left. 4.8km.

Thursday – no running.

Friday – no running.

Saturday – for the first time in ages I went to parkrun. Since I moved back to London I’ve only been to the one that’s easy walking distance from my house, but there are loads of others nearby, including a new one at Tooting Common. In the end I went to Dulwich as I know the setup (bike parking, etc) well. It was so cold that my face hurt while running but I set a parkrun PB, which was nice – and then went home to eat pancakes, which was even nicer! 5k.

Sunday – two years ago I did a 10k in the park, organised by the local athletics club, and it rolled around again this year. Walking to a race start line is such a treat, and there were less than 100 runners (a big difference to the week before at Cambridge Half, with over 5,000 people finishing!). 10k in the park is three laps, and each lap includes the hill at the back of the park, and I felt a bit daunted. I set off steadily but lost time each lap. Amusingly, on the hill there were some men doing community service in orange jumpsuits, and they heckled us as we ran past. They’d gone on a break by the third lap when I could have done with some extra encouragement! It was less cold than Saturday and there were loads of great dogs out in the park, and at the finish line we each got a medal, tshirt, water and a banana, so it was all round a good little race. I finished over three minutes faster than when I did it two years ago, which felt rewarding. 12.4km in total (though about going for a run in the evening but didn’t – probably need to adjust my training plan).

Total: 31.7km

Total in training plan: 53km

Mum’s second Parkrun

This weekend my Mum was in town, and as we’d dragged her along to her first Parkrun back in December, I thought it was time for her to do another!

I normally do the Dulwich Parkrun, three laps of the entirely flat Dulwich Park. It’s a 10 minute cycle from my house, a nice warm up but one that involves the South Circular. Mum can ride a bike but hasn’t in a while and I didn’t think she’d fancy riding one of mine around one of south London’s busiest roads.

Brockwell Park is just a bus journey from my house, so trying to pretend it doesn’t have a whopping great hill in it, we went there. We were super organised and each had a flask of coffee, which we left propped against a tree as we listened to the safety briefing.

There were more than 300 runners, which felt very busy. We queued up on the path outside the lido, and soon we were off. Well, fairly soon – it took a while to get going. The path was very narrow for the number of people on it and I had started too far back and had a lot of slower runners to overtake, especially when it came to the first hill.

Feeling like a boss, I powered up the hill, glancing down at my garmin watch to check my pace – and noticed that the bloody thing had stopped! I’m slightly ashamed to admit it knocked my motivation (what’s the point of setting a new PB if you’re not recording it?) and I took it easier for the remaining 3.8km.

I managed a sprint finish – a bit lame as I’d really been jogging up until then – and joined the enormous queue to have my barcode scanned, chatting to another girl who was new to Brockwell Parkrun.

I kept checking the finish line to see when Mum was on her way in. I wasn’t sure when we’d set off or what time she was expecting to do it in but thought that the moment I saw her I’d jog over to her and run the final bit with her.

Suddenly I noticed the volunteers packing away the finishing chute. “Stop!” I shouted, trying to sprint across a patch of extremely boggy grass. “There’s still another runner to go!” Luckily they hadn’t stopped the timer, but they thought that the last lady in was the final runner, forgetting about Mum.

I left the coffee cups at the finish line and headed back along the course to track Mum down. Running in my down jacket is not much fun! I found her and we power walked to the end together. 54 minutes – more than a minute faster than her first Parkrun!

We went for coffee at the Blackbird Bakery (where we met a 12 week old pug, refusing to walk) and saw a painting of the park in the art shop window. I pointed out the route we’d taken: one big lap around the park and then turning left at the sports field on the second lap.

“Sports field?!” exclaimed Mum. “I didn’t turn left at the sports field!”

She’d done TWO big laps of the park. So not only had she beaten her previous time, she’d beaten it on an extra long (and hilly) course! Well done Mum!