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Parkrun at the Double!

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Whilst in past years I would’ve been nursing a hangover of sorts on New Year’s Day this year was different. Not because I don’t really go out anymore to see the New Year in as I do as a rule now spend that time with my wife and children but more to the point that I was more conscious of getting a good night’s sleep because of the impending Parkrun double taking place on New Year’s Day.

“Start the year as I mean to go on” was my thoughts as I was driving over to Huntingdon and Hinchingbrooke country park for part one of the double. This was still at the same start time of 9am and then after you finished you had to get in the car and over to Ferry Meadows in Peterborough for a 10:30am start to complete the double.

There was so many people that turned up for part one 310 runners in total. Quite a few “tourists” as they are referred to from Peterborough taking advantage of the staggered start times to also complete the double. I had arranged to meet a friend at the start line in Huntingdon but there was so many people milling about that it proved impossible. It was a great run, although the weather had been kind in terms of the frost easing off the course was still a challenge in certain parts. I crossed the line in 176/310 place in a time of 27:56 and only 39secs off my course PB ( Ha! Only! ). Having completed part one as soon as my barcode was scanned I headed off to the car to make it to Peterborough for part two of the double.

Photos Courtesy of Paul Homewood

Photos Courtesy of Paul Homewood

I had never attended the Peterborough Parkrun before and I to that end had never even been to Ferry Meadows. I followed my nose and actually lucked out in finding it relatively easy. As I parked the car I spotted my friend getting out of her car and it turns out she was at Huntingdon as well and had the same issues trying to find me. Well we had both made it to part 2 so we headed off down to the start line where I was one of a whopping 511 runners taking part. It was massively congested at the start and I don’t think I crossed the start line until 20secs or so after the race was underway. Unfortunately its only gun time that counts here and so that time would have to be made up if possible. The course itself could not be more different from Huntingdon if it tried. It was all on pavement ( a refreshing change of late) and mostly a very quick and flat course as it speeds twice around the lake. As the runners thinned out I could start to get an even pace going and I eventually crossed the line in 28:08 in 285/511 Place. I really would like to come back and have a go at this Parkrun again when there is less people on the start line and I haven’t already run 5k 30mins prior as I think it could be a very quick course to register a decent 5k Parkrun time.

Overall a great way to start 2015!


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New Toys at Grafham Water

Xmas came a few days early for me this year as I waited in for my parcel from sportsshoes.com. I had treated myself to a Garmin Forerunner 220 and some new trail shoes. I know that it should have been put away for xmas day but I couldn’t help myself and I just needed to check them out.

The GPS watch was something that I had wanted for some time and have been saving up for. I am really hoping that I can get the best from it as I always seem to struggle with pacing myself correctly. It will also come in really useful when I start going to track nights next year. It has loads of features that I will try out and after I have used it a few times I will look to post my thoughts and review the product a little more. Right now I’m just excited to get out there and try it.

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I also wanted to invest in some trail shoes after the last frostbite and some of these winter park runs have also led me to believe that I need more in the way of grip when running certain courses. I opted to stick with ASICS due to the comfort I am getting from my GT 2000’s. So I purchased the FUJI TRABUCO 3 TRAIL running shoes and the fact that they support my over-pronation in the same way my GT 2000’s do it was a massive bonus.

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So with new toys to try out I needed a plan. Well this was easy, you see as I was busy on Sunday I unfortunately missed out on the clubs annual Santa run around Grafham Water. And whilst that course was very tough for me last time out (albeit was in pitch black darkness) I was disappointed to of not gone and had another go at it in the light of the day. Well I wasn’t deterred and after making arrangements with a work colleague to accompany me I set off for a Monday lunchtime run around Grafham Water myself. A perfect way to road test my new toys.

It was such a different run in the light, beautiful and very picturesque in places. The course itself was still challenging even though I could see where I was going this time. At times especially when the undulating hills become visible I was somehow thinking it was better not seeing them as the mental aspect of having to run up them was harder than when I didn’t’ know they were there…

After 1:31:07 I crossed the 9 mile mark. I was only 1:19 quicker this time around but it was still a PB of sorts for me and so I will take that with open arms.

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I really enjoyed the run and the watch was great, even though I found myself running and staring at my wrist for large portions of the time. I was impressed with my shoes also, as we all know that you are supposed to break them in gently, but after 9 miles I never had one blister or sore. Top running comfort and another win for gait analysis and the correct footwear.

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Frostbite #3 – Hunts AC

Yesterday I competed in my first ever club event as I ran in the InterClub Frostbite fixture. This was fixture #3 hosted by Huntingdon AC and was being run around Hinchinbrook Country Park. Now I have run the Parkrun there quite a few times but nothing quite prepared me for this 5mile course.

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I turned up full of anticipation and was very excited to see what the event would be like having never attended anything like this before. I got to the venue in good time as I wanted to soak a little of the atmosphere up, watch the juniors race and most importantly see if I could scrounge a loan of a club vest. The vest is needed to be able to compete and although I have mine on order it did not come through in time.

I found Johno and got my name down on the list and asked for his help in sourcing a spare vest so I could compete. Whilst I waited to see if he could come up trumps I settled in and watched the start of the juniors race. The gun went off and they all sprinted across the field into the first turn and out of sight. There was a real buzz around the start finish as people jostled for positions to cheer there juniors through. It wasn’t long before the first juniors came around and into the final straight and the roar of encouragement went up and you could see them really pushing those final few yards. The determination on some of those kids faces was awesome. I stood and watched all of them come home and really enjoyed the atmosphere that engulfed everyone.

With that race over and 30mins before the seniors were due to start I decided I had better see if a vest was found and try to start getting in the head zone for a run. I wandered into the main hall and found a few of the club members and was pointed in the direction of Mike who wasn’t running but was prepared to lend me his vest to compete. What a top guy Mike is, I was very happy he loaned me his vest and now I quickly got changed and headed out side for a warm-up. As I finished my stretches and a quick jog to get the limbs loosened up I headed back to the start line which was looking pretty busy. I made my way over to where most of my club were gathering and started to chat to a few people. This is where I was taken by surprise as the gun sounded and we were away. A quick start of the GPS and and a minor fight with my gloves over the first 100yrds or so and I settled into the pack.This is where things started getting interesting, the ground was so boggy and wet it was like running through treacle. Massive surges of people slowing up to circumnavigate the mass mud puddles and then a sudden surge through them. I witnessed one guy lose his shoe in the middle of the mud pool, you had to feel for him as the people behind then proceeded to trample his shoe into the mud pool further. We then ran up into the woods, I say run, what i really mean is slide and slip and then slip and slide all the way to the top, that in itself was bloody hard work and at that point all I could think of was that we had to do this bit again right near the end!!!

The race then continued through the woods then down towards chestnut avenue and out onto the main road then back into the park around the main lake as we approached the 3 mile mark I was gritting my teeth with determination to carry on as i was really feeling the course. As we cleared the main lake the realisation of having to go up into the wildlife area attempt ‘that’ mud run again really shook my confidence a little. The first time up it was hard, the second time (after already doing just over 3 miles and the fact it had already been churned up by 100s of runners) made it so very difficult. To finally emerge out of the woods and past the main car park was a real relief as there was a lovely downhill all the way down and round into chestnut avenue. Mentally I found a little second wind at this point as I knew that I was not far away.

Image courtesy of Simon Pauley

image courtesy of Simon Pauley

As I got closer to coming out of the woods and into the open space and the final stretch across the field the noise of the crowd gave me again a little lift as a ran to the finish, I even heard my name shouted out and I won’t lie… that felt great!! As I crossed the line and into the finish funnel I actually genuinely thought that I was going to throw up. I felt so sick, I literally had given everything and my body was letting me know that.

In the end I had come 370th out of 425 runners on the day and although I knew that I was never going to be fighting for honers at the front I had achieved my goal of finishing ( and not last, which was a genuine fear of mine ).

This was another milestone on my journey from ‘fat to fit’ and one that I am extremely proud of. I really love being a part of this club and have been made to feel so welcome and I am very excited about just how far I may be able to personally push and improve myself in 2015.


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Grafham Water Club Run

I turned up to the club run on Monday a little nervous I have to admit. There were a couple of reasons for this. The first was that I had gone out for a run at the weekend and set out to do a 10k and I stopped after 5k as my legs were just not working, I felt as if I was running through treacle and even though mentally I was wanting to do it physically my body had other ideas. The second reason was that this was going to be a total of 9 miles and this would be the furthest that I have ever run and although I really wanted to do it I was scared that I might not make it.

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As everyone gathered it was clear that the turnout was going to be very good. It was around 30 people in total and so made for a good atmosphere as we headed off into the darkness. It was at this point I was so glad that I had brought my head torch with me, without it I would have struggled more ( if that’s possible). I was going okay up until about the 3 mile mark, after all I was very comfortable at running that distance now. I was suffering the usual nightmare of my glasses steaming up which was magnified 10 fold by the fact I could hardly see anyhow due to the darkness. I know that I had my head torch, but that only does so much and with puddles and boggy mud patches coming thick and fast at me it started to become a real challenge to keep any sort of consistent pace. This is where I started to find myself at the back of the pack. Thankfully and this is what I like so far about the club is that there is a real leave no man behind attitude. It was clear that I was struggling and one of the runners decided to run with me at my pace and help and encourage me to continue. At certain points we would catch the others up as they held up and waited for everyone to regroup. Now this was a nice touch, but I must admit I did find it somewhat embarrassing that I was the guy that was holding them up and that must of started to grate on a few of them. Only natural I guess. No one actually said it, but in my head that was what I was feeling. At around the 5 mile mark I really started to feel every hill and every drop and was amazed at the real lack of depth and perception running in that kind of light gives you. It was so hard to judge at times if I was running up or down a hill. I’ll be honest even when I was on a down gradient it felt like I was running up hill.

I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate the club member who essentially sacrificed his own run that night to babysit me around the course. His constant encouragement and direction on how to tackle certain parts of the course was nothing short of inspirational. As the miles passed by it wasn’t getting any easier and I had to find real drive from somewhere deep within to keep going. I was not going to stop now, i didn’t want to let myself down and I certainly didn’t want to let down the club member who had brought me round this far. As we neared the final hill and the sight of the pub came into view from where we started I was thrilled.

It felt great to get my first 9 miler under my belt and I would certainly like to run that course again and maybe try it in the light to really appreciate the surroundings. I know I was the slowest, but I do have to keep reminding myself that it was only 4 months ago that I started running and I could hardly walk up the stairs then. Personally this has been a huge milestone and achievement for me.

 


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Equinox 24

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The club have organised some teams to enter the Equinox 24 next year.

“The Equinox 24 is a 24 hour mixed terrain race against the clock. Whether entering to run solo or in a team of 2-8; whether you aim to win or just to take part, this race will be exhilarating, testing and rewarding with a great atmosphere. The 10k route will take you around the Belvoir Castle Estate, on completing your lap you will hand over to one of your teammates or if solo keep on running!”

So I haven’t even completed my first proper event 10k and I’ve gone and signed up for a 24hr 10k relay. Pretty standard for me it would seem. I have this real habit of throwing myself into a situation and trying to cope. Thankfully I have till next September to get comfortable at running that distance. And then I can repeat it a few times, through the night…. I am proper excited at the prospect of being involved and think it will be very memorable.


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Munich By Night

I missed my club run on Monday as I had to fly to Munich for work. After a quick bit of research I found that the office from the hotel was a 10k round trip. So i donned my running gear which had come with me with real intent and I headed out into the night to find the place. It was a lovely brisk training run that eventually led me to the office and after a quick photo opportunity I ran back for a well-deserved Steiner or three.

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A Point Well Run I Feel

PBMy 5k runs have been centralized around the park runs of late and as I have been pounding pavements in search of completing further distances. It has been a few months since I have tried to run a tempo 5k on pavement and a few weeks since I have run at work on a lunch hour.

This all changed this week as the topic of running hit the office workspace and my buttons started getting pressed about how long my 5k PB has stifled at 27:17 and that going to running club clearly isn’t paying off as what have I achieved since etc.

I know for the most part that this was banter and in some deluded way a sense of motivating me but it annoyed me. I have to say though the biggest problem was that I was letting it get to me. I mean so what if I had stifled on my speed over 5k. I mean I wasn’t running 5ks ( only at the park runs ) and I was trying to slow down if anything to get my pace more sustainable at 10k + speeds.

I started this running lark to get fit and then I got consumed by the now infamous ‘running bug’. I really do love it and I really do want to get better, run further and most definitely run faster. However I want to ensure that whilst I do this I do it for all the right reasons. I know I’m never going to be an elite runner and I know that the progress I have made in the last 3 months is slow and steady but honestly in my eyes I feel it’s nothing short of outstanding considering where I started from.

That said there are always people in life that want to make it about how you are compared to them. I can’t say I’m really surprised as I got totally sick of my first love of fishing due to the constant ‘Big Dick’ syndrome over who had the biggest fish, the most fish, who is top rod, who has the best gear, who had naming rights. The constant keeping up appearances to just please other people was infuriating to say the least and the very reason I lost my way about what I loved about the sport in the first place. I am now taking a sabbatical from the bankside and hope that possibly one day i will return just to enjoy it how it used to be.

Anyhow I digress…. The office was busting my balls over this PB time and even though it went against everything I have just said I went out to run a 5k course that I have not run since August 19th ( on that day I got 29:05) to try my damn hardest to beat my PB. I was confident that I would better that time with ease but I genuinely had no idea how close I could or would get to my 27:17. In my head I was thinking just at least try to beat it and give it your best shot.

Now I can’t be sure if this “banter” was the inspiration for what happened next or simply that running a tempo 5k on pavement shows my improvement for what it is…. improvement. I set off steady but not at my full on pace and got through the 1k mark with a respectable 4:54 and the 2k mark at 9:57. I just tried to sustain the pace to the 3k mark of which I passed through at a PB time of 14:59. The next 2k was where I always dropped off but after the 3k split being on for a record time for me I kept the pace up as best I could . Running through the 4k mark at 20:15 and setting myself up for a real push to the finish. When I passed the 5k mark with a time of 25:24 I was not only totally amazed that I had beaten my PB for 5k but that I had completely smashed it. I won’t lie it felt good, it also felt good returning to the office and shutting a few people up.

Now I have laid that myth to bed about my improvement I will get back to running and training how I want to and work on improving the things that I need too such as running form, breathing & pace. I vow from now on I will only be racing against myself and I will not be trying to ‘Keep up with the Joneses” or feel pressured into proving anything.

Let’s really try and keep this journey fun!….. because it has been…. Thus far 🙂