It looks like the winter weather has finally made a move and now we’re heading in to warmer temperatures. I know most people are glad of this, but I am definitely an Autumn Winter person rather than a Spring Summer person. Don’t get me wrong, I love the extra daylight but I’m just not good in heat! I get hot so quickly, I sweat buckets and I overheat. It’s just miserable. When we had the heatwave last summer I was kind of glad to be injured as it meant I wasn’t having to run in the hot weather. The weather is warm now, not hot, but already I’m overheating.
Saturday morning at parkrun was about 16c. I walked down there in just cropped leggings and a tshirt so I knew it was going to be a warm one. I was pleased to see my friend Maria there as she’s been on holiday so I’ve not seen her for a little while. I was looking forward to hearing all about her trip to Cyprus.
We got down to the starting pen and it was very busy. After the run brief it took us over 30 seconds to get to the start line! We set off at a chatty pace. We had a lot to catch up on and I knew I’d need to take it easier because of the heat. It was nice hearing all about her holiday and catching up on other bits and pieces but my god it was hot. I regretted not taking a headband or wearing a buff on my head to try and absorb some of the sweat! Icky I know, but I sweat buckets. I also had a problem with my sunglasses steaming up! Does anyone else get that? I found I had to pull them further down my face but then they felt like they needed pushing up!
I finished parkrun with an official time of 37:07 a good two minutes slower than last week! I think over Summer I’m just going to have to ease it back a bit and take the slower times as I’m not good in heat.
My home parkrun now has a selfie frame too so obviously I had to get a picture with it!
After heading home for a shower we drove to Ringwood to go and order a new car for me! It’ll be late August/early September before it gets to me though. I’m getting a Ford Fiesta. I wanted something a little bigger than my Smart Car and after looking round a few different cars this was my favourite. After signing on the dotted line we went for lunch at a pub in the New Forest which was lovely.
A week or so ago I had the opportunity to spend a Friday in Windsor. Obviously I instantly started thinking about how I could team this with a parkrun. I researched where the local parkruns were and looked at hotels. I realised there was a hotel not too far from Windsor but more importantly, not too far from Bushy park!
I’d read on the Bushy parkrun course page that the car parking there was often full by 8.30. I didn’t want to take any chances so we arrived at Bushy park nice and early at 8am. The car parks already had quite a few cars in. I presume these belonged to some of the army of volunteers that have this parkrun run like a well oiled machine.
I was quite surprised to see there were no parkrun flags up or the pop up signs they have. We wondered to the area I thought the start line was near and there were people milling about. It wasn’t, however, clear where the start line was.
A man, along with his wife and daughter, came and asked me where the start line was. I explained I didn’t know as we were tourists and he trumped us by saying he was over from Melbourne, Australia. We spent a good while chatting to him about his home parkrun, what time it started, the temperature etc. It was amazing to hear about a parkrun on the other side of the world. Whilst we were chatting a volunteer came and told us the new runners briefing would soon be held so we headed over to a lady who was now holding up a new runners briefing sign. The briefing was a good mix of humorous and informative. It was amazing hearing where the tourists were from. There were people from various American and Australian parkruns and then various UK parkruns. Distance seems no object when the opportunity to run at Bushy is there! By the end of the briefing a large crowd had gathered so it was now evident where we’d be running from. I spotted the 35 minute pacer but had no chance of getting anywhere near him. There were over 1400 runners the day we were there and it felt like 1000 of them were between me and the pacer!
Before the run
My husband and I ran together. It’s very rare we do this as our paces are so different. When we set off I had no idea when we’d run over the start line so I don’t know how long it took me to get going. The first section of the course was over grass. People spread out fairly quickly both width ways and due to their pace so it didn’t really feel congested at all. We stayed on the grass for a while even when there was a path as we felt pretty comfortable there. They warned us of ant hills and boy were there ant hills! Some were like mini ant mountains!
The course was described as a butterfly shape and as we rounded a corner I honestly shouted “Oh my god look at all those deer!” There were so many, just watching the runners go by! The views were also lovely. So much lush greenery and a mix of paths and trails.
It was quite a warm day but also it was muggy! It made it so hard to catch my breath. My husband kept reminding me to try breathing deeper as I was breathing so quickly. It definitely helped having those reminders. What didn’t help was him telling me every time we’d run a half mile. It made the run feel so much longer as I normally don’t even look at my watch! I’m sure he thought he was being helpful though haha.
When we got to the end I managed a little sprint finish but honestly, I’d given it everything I had whilst out on the course. We entered the finish funnel and joined the back of the longest queue. It snaked around just like when you’re waiting to go on a ride at a theme park. They have a double finish funnel at Bushy so we queued alongside another finish funnel. I don’t know how it all works but they seemed to and that’s all that matters haha. We were probably in the queue for 10-15 minutes before being given our finish token. We then barely had to queue for the barcode scanners as there seemed to be a small army of them!
The finish funnel queue
I then went to join another queue to have my picture taken with the parkrun selfie frame. Needs must haha. I then took pictures for a group of ladies who were behind me. They all wanted a picture on each of their phones. I didn’t mind though, I’d like to think another parkrunner would do the same for me!
Afterwards we headed off to the café, The Pheasantry. I was sceptical that we’d get a seat with their being so many people there but luckily we did. There was both indoor and outdoor seating which probably helped. I had to queue for about 10 minutes to order our food but the food came out quickly and was really tasty.
We were really lucky with the traffic on the way back and it only took us an hour and a half. Not too far to go back then surely?! I received my time around lunch time. I expected it to be much later as it’s such a large parkrun. My official time was 35:46. When I got home and looked at my stats I was very surprised to see I’d managed to do negative splits.
Have you made the parkrun pilgrimage?
What’s the furthest you’ve travelled to a parkrun?
On 12th May I went for a solo run. My intention was to go out early, unfortunately that didn’t quite go to plan. I’ve found myself struggling a bit on solo runs as I’ve felt a bit bored running the same route at parkrun and on my own runs. However, it’s so convenient so I thought I’d try running with music. I bought some wireless ear phones that just sort of lock in place in your ear and miraculously don’t fall out! I’d already paired them to my phone but for whatever reason they’d lost that connection. It took me forever to get them to reconnect, hence me going out a bit later than I’d planned.
I was also testing out my new goodr running sunglasses. I’ve been struggling a bit squinting in to the sun on runs. I’d done a bit of looking online and saw a few recommendations for the goodr glasses. I saw Louise wearing them at parkrun the week before and she let me try them on and run about a bit to see how they felt.
I eventually headed out at 8.50, a whole 50 minutes after I’d intended to. I knew I wanted to do at least 3 miles to reach my 100th mile but set out on to my 4 mile route with the knowledge I could turn back early if I needed to. It was warm and sunny on my run and my glasses proved good and stopped me squinting. They were definitely a good purchase!
My ear phones though, what a difference running with music makes! I used to do more evening runs where I’d rather be able to hear what’s going on around me but a Sunday morning run is fine to listen to music. I had such a good run. I was so focussed on singing along (in my head) to the music that I barely noticed the miles ticking by and never once had a negative thought about running. Usually I have that little devil on my shoulder saying things like “This is hard, I could walk now, shall I just sit on that bench” but there was none of that! I had a really good comfortable run. It probably felt so comfortable as every mile was a whole minute slower than the day before at parkrun! I was pretty impressed by how even my splits were.
I definitely regretted my timing though. The prom was so busy from about the halfway point of my run as dog walkers and families started to head out to enjoy time in the sunshine. I had to do a bit of weaving around people towards the end.
I’m finding headbands great at the minute too for keeping the sun off my head a bit.
On 11th May I went to Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun for my 8th parkrun location. I picked up Maria and we made the short journey to Portsmouth. We’re so lucky having so many parkrun locations so close to where we live. This was really easy to get to and had the bonus of plentiful free parking.
Once we got there we went and shivered whilst waiting for the new runners briefing. It was surprisingly cold! We bumped in to Lorna who I met through junior parkrun. It was nice to see her as I’d not seen her for a while. We then went and listened to the new runners briefing. The lady giving the briefing was really funny. She was also the tail walker and was so encouraging, cheering people on and giving high fives. She’s a real credit to the parkrun team.
I’ve never been to Portsmouth Lakeside before but it just looked like an business park. However, once we got going I soon realised there was much more to it. Behind the buildings was a wooded area with a lake. It was really pretty. I ran with Maria, as we no longer work together, parkruns are our catch up time. We both said how nice the course was and how pretty it was. We also couldn’t believe how it suddenly became really warm as the sun came out. Shame it hadn’t been out when we were waiting for the off!
We ran at a good pace but towards the end I felt myself flagging a bit and Maria had to encourage me to keep up with her. I always think I set off too quickly but my splits were actually pretty consistent, with my last mile being my quickest! Maria told me to sprint finish but I couldn’t manage one, I’d given everything I had in the tank. Strange that the last mile was my quickest though! I finished in 35:32.
I actually felt really hot when we were running but for once, in the picture I actually don’t resemble a tomato!
On the May Day Bank Holiday I completed the inaugural Breakfast Club Charity 10K. The race had an early start at 8am. I got there for 7.30 so I could pick up my bib and have multiple nervous wees! This was my first 10K since 2014. I’ve never run that distance since. My 10K PB was set in 2013. Back then I completed the 10K in 1:37:39. My only target for the Charity 10K was to complete it, but preferably in a better time than 1:37:39.
It was only a small field of 100 runners. There was just a bit of a crowd at the start line so I just positioned myself in the middle and hoped for the best! I don’t think anyone was planning on setting any records so I didn’t experience any jostling or feeling like I’d started too close to the front and I didn’t feel held up like I’d started too far back.
Maria and I before the race
It was quite a sunny day with a slight breeze at times. Luckily the first part of the run was along a shady street. I fully appreciated this as I’m not good in the heat! As we turned out of that street though there was no shade at all. I was definitely thankful of the early start as it meant we beat the worst of the heat.
As I was running a lady caught up with me and stayed alongside me. We got chatting and she told me I was running at her normal pace so we stuck together. It really helped me having someone to chat to, it made the miles pass by quicker. The first part of the race headed back towards where I live. The turnaround point was just one road away from home! I tried not to think about it!
As we headed back from that first out and back it was really hot. There was no breeze or shade until we got back to the road where we ran first. I was grateful for that tiny respite as I knew as soon as we turned off this road we were running along the prom and then there’d by no shade whatsoever.
My new friend, Charlotte and I continued chatting. We found we had a few things in common which was nice. It was so hot I’m sure I’d have had a cheeky walk break had it not been for chatting to her. As we completed our run up the prom, we then turned around and I said “This is it now, just one mile left to go” I could see the finish line as a tiny dot in the distance but I kept telling myself every step forward made the finish line closer.
I began to fade in the last half mile and I told Charlotte to run on without me as I was really starting to flag, I think the distance and heat had taken their toll. I crossed the finish line about 10 seconds after her. When I stopped my watch I was very pleased to see 1:13:25! That’s 24:14 off my 2013 time! I’ll let you in to a secret though, I’m glad my next race is only 5 miles!
After a really poor run earlier in the week, where I got to 2.5 miles and gave up, I wasn’t looking forward to parkrun on Saturday. Whenever I have a bad run I get thoughts of “What if that’s it and I can’t run anymore?!”
So it was with some trepidation that I headed to parkrun on my own. As soon as I got there I spotted Louise and Sam and had a little chat with them before seeing Gary who used to be my local parkrun event director. I had a quick catch up with him before seeing Penny and Pete. They were both wearing their London Marathon t-shirts. Penny asked if we could run together and I eagerly said “Yes please!” I wanted to hear every detail of her London Marathon story.
Just before we set off Louise asked if I wanted pacing but I told her I wasn’t sure I was ready for it this morning. Instead I positioned myself with Penny just behind the 35 minute pacer. We listened to the run brief and then were off. Just as we were getting going someone suddenly lost their footing behind Penny, resulting in them punching Penny in the back and sending her flying. Somehow though, he managed to regain his footing, grab Penny and hoist her back to standing just before she really fell. It was so fast and surreal! He apologised profusely and then carried on leaving me and Penny wondering what just happened. I asked if she wanted to stop as she’d taken a fair whack but she said she was ok.
As we ran Penny told me all about her London Marathon. I actually felt emotional as she told me about them reaching Tower Bridge! She told me lots of different things and I asked her so many questions about different things. All the while we had the 35 minute pacer in sight but because I was listening to Penny I didn’t really think about it.
As we were running Penny asked if I was ok and I admitted to her we were running a bit faster than I was used to but it felt comfortably uncomfortable (if that makes sense!) Then as we were crossing the shingle for the first time, I lost my footing and nearly went flying too! Somehow I managed to pull it back and stay upright! As we went around the second turn around point and started heading back to the finish funnel Penny told me about someone running for the same charity she did. She arrived in London to find her Air BnB had cancelled on her and everywhere else was full. I can’t imagine the absolute panic she must have felt! Fortunately all the charity runners had a WhatsApp group and someone managed to find her somewhere to stay. How lucky!
As we approaching the last bit I had a glance at my watch and it was on 31 minutes. I remember thinking “Ooo it shouldn’t take me another 5 minutes until the end” but because I was still listening to Penny I didn’t think much more of it. As we got to the final stretch Penny encouraged me to give it my all and sprint finish, which I tried to! I didn’t feel like I had much left in me as we’d run quicker than I was used to anyway. As we went over the finish line I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it when I saw a 34 at the beginning! I actually felt pretty emotional. Penny gave me the biggest hug. We’d not even tried and I’d gone and smashed my PB! My previous PB was 36:18 and now it’s 34:41!!!!!! It’s so crazy to think my first parkrun was 58:24. I’ve knocked 23 minutes and 43 seconds off that time! For such a long time I was at a 45 minute 5K time and I was pretty happy with that. Now I’m nudging ever closer to a 30 minute 5K!
Have you done the London Marathon?
Have you ever achieved a PB without really trying?
Storm Hannah came to town again on the 27th April and joined us for another parkrun. I’d run up on the cliff tops and through the woods just the day before and it was just a little breezy. Nothing major at all. Saturday morning though we were back to 45mph winds!
I went to my home parkrun this week as I had two friends reaching milestone runs. Lei was running her 100th parkrun and Gemma was running her 50th. It was also my running clubs takeover at parkrun.
Walking to parkrun I definitely regretted not taking a jacket! Whilst listening to the run brief, it was absolutely freezing. I’d positioned myself in the starting funnel between the 35 minute and 37 minute pacer. My PB is 36:18 so I thought if I could keep the 35 minute pacer in view I might have a shot at a PB. I did get my last PB in 55mph winds after all! However as soon as they said 3,2,1 Go both pacers shot off in front of me. I tried to keep up for a short while but after looking at my watch I realised I was running a 9 minute mile pace! I knew I couldn’t maintain that so said to Maria I was going to ease off as I thought the pacers had gone off too fast.
Maria raised the very good point that the wind was currently behind us and now wasn’t the time to spend extra energy as we’d need it when we turned to run in to the wind. When we did turn around at the turnaround point the wind hit us. It was as if someone had whacked a treadmill up to full incline, that’s how hard it felt pushing against the wind. We really struggled and conversation fell by the wayside as we were struggling to catch our breath and we wouldn’t have heard each other speak anyway! As usual as we passed the finish funnel where it’s so open the wind felt even stronger! It’s hard staying upright when coastal running in strong winds.
As we turned at the next turnaround point though the wind was back behind us and pushing us along! It felt glorious after slogging away for so long. We were able to talk again and it actually felt quite easy! I needed it though after pushing against the wind! It was at this point I spotted the 37 minute pacer walking. I soon overtook him.
With Gemma who ran her 50th parkrun
I managed to finish in 36:22 just 4 seconds off my PB which in that wind, I’ll take! I looked at the finish times of the pacers. The 35 minute pacer finished in just over 34 minutes. No wonder I couldn’t keep them in sight! I don’t envy them, I think pacing is probably the hardest volunteering job! I definitely want a crack at being paced to 36 minutes though.
After I posted my Bluebell Wood run on to Strava, Maria asked if I’d take her on the same run. We agreed on the Friday of that same week. We met bright and early at 7am so we could get the run out of the way early on.
We started running and pretty much stopped within a minute as we spotted some little wild rabbits. They were very cute and hopped around a little before disappearing. We then carried on and climbed up on to the cliff tops. Thankfully the weather had cooled down a bit from the Easter weekend so we ran in cooler conditions than I had on the Monday.
We stopped briefly to admire the view at the cliff top edge and then pressed on. Time passed by quite easily as we were busy chatting and catching up.
We then came across the rapeseed field and took a few selfies in there. We marvelled at how all we could hear was bird song. There was no other noise which is part of the joy of trail runs.
We pressed on and came across the Bluebell Wood. We took a slightly different route in here, to that that I’d taken on Easter Monday. Not going to lie, I couldn’t remember which way I’d gone in the woods on the Monday. We popped back out and I didn’t know where we were but a quick look on Google Maps pointed us back in the right direction and we were soon back on the footpath we needed to be.
We then carried on and turned away from the coast to go inland a bit. At this point I actually felt pretty comfortable. I was a bit worried the night before as I hadn’t finished work until 8.30, I was really dehydrated and didn’t eat until about 9.30pm. However, once finishing work I’d tried to make up a bit of my water intake and before setting off had a hydration tablet in some water so I think this time I was lucky!
When we finished our run it was strangely a half mile shorter than the same run on Monday! I know we took a slightly different route in the woods but it wasn’t anything like a half mile distance. It was nice to be finished just after 8am though and already have my 10,000 steps in for the day.
On Easter Monday I went out for a trail run. My run club were offering a Bluebell Wood run on the Thursday which I couldn’t make because of work so I decided to give it a go on the Bank Holiday instead.
I scouted out the route on Strava from someone that had run the route last year and wrote down some directions….which I promptly forgot to take with me! However I was convinced I could still get us round it as I’d studied the map lots when looking at the route and I had my phone with Google Maps on so all would be well!
We got up at 6.30am to try and beat the hot weather. When we left the house at 7.15 it was nice and cool. We drove to the car park at the bottom of the cliffs and went from there. We climbed up the narrow path to the cliff tops. It was quite the obstacle course as there were lots of nettles! Luckily I managed to avoid them.
I really wanted this run to be all about the views and not the pace. I stopped frequently to take pictures.
Up on the cliff tops
After the cliff tops we headed inland following a footpath alongside farmers fields. There was a field full of Rapeseed so obviously I had to take a photo in there.
As I then continued up the footpath I came across the woods. I took a detour in the woods to see the bluebells. The smell was absolutely beautiful as there were hundreds of bluebells.
After tromping through the woods we headed back to the path we were on and continued on. We passed some stunning houses and then took another footpath which then began to wind us back to where we’d parked the car. We very briefly (perhaps 200 metres) had to run on a road to cross from one footpath to another. The road was a 60mph road, so glad we weren’t on there for long. We then ran alongside a canal back to the car.
It was a hot, but thankfully not as hot as I’d thought, run. We managed to cover a not-too-shabby 5.2 miles!
It was supposed to be a scorcher on the Saturday of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. I hate the heat. I don’t cope well with it and running is even worse. So I decided a different parkrun was needed, as running along the prom at my local parkrun provides no shade whatsoever. We decided to head off to Moors Valley parkrun which is held in Moors Valley Country Park and Forest. The run route is through the woods so although not entirely shaded, it would at least have some shade and respite from the sun.
We invited Maria along and after picking her up we headed off. It takes around 50 minutes to get there and luckily we didn’t hit any traffic, which is good because we didn’t factor in any time to allow for traffic! When we got there we had about ten minutes to spare so had a natter in the car. We watched a guy parked in front of us conceal his car key in his petrol flap! Anyone watching could have easily stolen his car if they wanted to!
We made our way to the start area and boy was it crowded! We couldn’t really hear the run brief so I didn’t know if we’d be doing the same route we did when I first went to Moors Valley in December 2017. Luckily I wasn’t going to be leading the pack so I figured we could just follow the person in front!
As we set off Maria and I ran together and had a nice natter about life and work. It was already pretty warm but for most of the run I managed to run in the shade, apart from when the route came out of the woods. I’d run the whole thing until that point but I just got so warm I couldn’t catch my breath and said to Maria I was going to have to walk. I probably only walked for a minute but I just needed to get a grip on my breathing.
The course was lovely in the woods and then along a footpath beside a lake. It was ever so slightly undulating but nothing too bad.
During the run
Afterwards we drove to a nearby pub for breakfast which was divine. I ordered the big full English. When it arrived it came with one more sausage than it was meant to! Winning!