Author Archives: bigmugofteablog

Achievement Awards

When I finished parkrun on Saturday I got talking to the Race Director of Eastleigh 10K. Eastleigh is a pretty big event on the local race calendar and lots of people take part. It boasts that it is a flat fast course so people are bound to want a crack of the whip.

Whilst chatting he told me instead of just awarding prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd male female or age category etc, next year they’re introducing an Achievement Award. This means that all runners are in with a chance of winning an award if they’ve run the previous year. The way it will work is, if you ran the 2018 race and then run the 2019 race, if you make an improvement on your 2018 time you’ll be in with a chance of winning. To make it fair it’ll be based on the percentage of your improvement time.

For runners like me this is an amazing opportunity. I’m never going to be a fast runner coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd, nor am I ever likely to win my age category. Something I can boast though is that I’ve knocked somewhere around 15 minutes off my 5K time. That’s a 25% improvement. When I told him a bit about my journey he said it’s people like me he’s hoping to reward, those people that chip away at running to improve their physical or mental health. I guess it’s about rewarding everyone and not just those who run super quick. However, I guess those middle of the pack runners who are never going to win but are only likely to improve their time by say 2 minutes are still likely to miss out on an award.

I like the idea but what do you think? Is it fair to reward only certain people or should the whole awarding people prizes be scrapped?

 

Poppy Run with Breakfast Club

This morning I headed out for a run with the Breakfast Club again. The plan was to run 20 minutes or so out and back to the Mulberry memorial on Stokes Bay where the British Legion would join us and poppies could be laid. Some people had also opted to take part in a 5K poppy run where they received a t-shirt and medal. I’d completely missed the memo on this though so just ran with them.

I picked up Claire, my friend from parkrun, and we headed off together, then we went back, picked up her Garmin and then headed back off haha. As always we started at the Bayside Cabin car park and this weeks route was up Stokes Bay prom, through the golf course and back. Claire has really helped me through my rehabilitation. When I run with her I don’t look at my watch, we just go and she tells me if we’re doing ok.

Before the Run

The wind was absolutely horrendous as we ran along the beach. It was blowing straight in off the sea leaving one side of me freezing, whilst the other side was sweltering. It felt very strange. Thankfully though the pouring rain from the last day stayed away whilst we were out. We ran for 25 minutes and then turned around.

When we made it back to the Mulberry Harbour memorial we soon saw fellow Gosport Road Runner Andy coming up the prom. He’s a member of the British Legion. Andy recited part of the poem “For the Fallen”

British Legion Flag

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them
Andy speaking
After a minutes silence, the poppies and wooden crosses were then placed in front of the memorial. It was really lovely.
Mulberry Harbour Memorial
We then headed off again back to the Bayside Cabin for breakfast. I had my usual from there, the “Veggie 2” which is mixed mushrooms on toast. When we sat down Claire asked me if I’d looked at our splits yet. I hadn’t, as I hadn’t uploaded it to Strava. She then told me “Your mile 1 was really fast” Claire knows now what my good paces and slower paces are so I was intrigued to look.
Splits from Strava
Imagine my genuine surprise when I saw mile 1! A mile in the 12’s! I was so so surprised. I was probably going quicker to try and warm up!
After breakfast, a coffee and a nice natter with some of the other Breakfast Clubbers, I headed home to a nice hot bath! It definitely warmed me up.
Did you commemorate Armistice Day?
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A parkrun With More Running Than Walking

The weather was forecast to be vile this morning at parkrun. Thankfully, the weather somehow cleared for the morning and we had a dry run. This morning I ran with Kelly, one of my parkrun friends daughter, and Gavin, a fellow member of Gosport Road Runners.

Kelly can run a parkrun in 29 minutes but doesn’t like the pressure of having to run all the time so I was happy to have her run/walk with me. Gavin was taking part in the Gosport Road Runners Helpers Half Marathon this afternoon so he wanted an easy run. For me, the more the merrier. The more people I have to talk to, the easier the run seems for me.

Today was 3 minutes running and 2 minutes walking. I’m glad it’s finally got to the stage where I am running more than I am walking. It’s been a slow process getting this far. I was a little apprehensive this morning. I haven’t exercised all week and haven’t run since last weeks parkrun. I could make up excuses but it’s nothing but laziness to be quite honest. I really need to find a routine that works for me and stick to it.

Anyway back to this morning. There was a takeover this morning by Stubbington Green Runners, which means all of their club members provided the volunteering roles and cake.

Cake!

After the run brief we were off and the time passed by quickly. I could definitely feel that the runs are longer now and I need to concentrate on my breathing more as I’m now running for 3 minutes not 30 seconds. At one point, whilst running, I asked Gavin what our pace was and was pleased to hear 11:30 min/miles.

Mile 2 definitely felt the hardest for me as we turned in to the sun with absolutely no breeze whatsoever! I always overheat when running so this wasn’t pleasant. However when we turned at the final turnaround point there was a breeze which was just strong enough to help me cool off a little.

I finished with a time of 44:27, exactly one minute from my PB time! I feel like I’ll never reached that time again!

parkrun finish token

Afterwards I went and helped myself to a piece of cake. There was so much choice but at the last minute I spotted coffee cake which is my absolute favourite so I had a slice and I’m pleased to report it was delicious. All that was left to do after that was grab Gavin for a selfie and then head to the café for a well earnt breakfast.

Gavin and I

Tomorrow I’m off to Breakfast Club with Claire so fingers crossed the weather is better than it is right now! As I’m writing this, it’s heavy rain!

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A Windy parkrun

I’m finally up to date with parkrun posts! This week I was run/walking 2.5 minutes of each. I’m finally at the halfway point of my road back from Injury! It was a warmer morning than last week at parkrun and a lot windier!

This week I was run/walking with Lorna and her son Luke, both of whom I met through junior parkrun. My friend Maria, from work, also joined us. We started off really well and continued to do well until we reached the second turn around point. Now we were running straight in to the wind and they were strong. It felt like we were running whilst trying to push something incredibly heavy. It was so hard. I was fine with the run/walk intervals and it was pain free which is always a relief. My pace was again commented on as being a fair bit quicker than before.

We finished in 44:35 which is slower than last week but to be expected in that wind I think. It was Luke’s first big parkrun and he absolutely smashed it. He never complained once! Hopefully the run/walk intervals helped him to complete the parkrun easier than trying to run the whole 5k.

Group Shot

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My WW Journey So Far

In July I joined Weight Watchers (Or Wellness Workshops as it’s now meant to be called). I was given 3 months free membership by Hampshire Council. You can read more about how I got started with it all here: I’ve joined Weight Watchers

I’ve just come to the end of my free membership so thought I’d report on how it’s been.

When I first started I was having trouble getting my head around the whole points thing. Not adding them up but how they actually work. I was baffled that oats to make porridge were higher in points than a cooked breakfast. I have to confess this still absolutely blows my mind. How can oats be worse?! However I’m starting to understand how the points are worked out a bit better. Things that are lower in calories and higher in protein are lower in points. Things that are high in carbs and sugar are higher in points. Beyond that, I’m not questioning the science. I just like the fact it works.

On the whole I’ve found it relatively easy. My breakfast is low in points, my lunch is usually zero points which leaves me enough for an evening meal and a small treat in the evening. I’ve managed to stay away from the trap of saving as many points as possible to then binge on treats in an evening. For me, that defeats the whole point.

I’m enjoying the meetings afterwards and find them informative. I’m in good company now too as my friend Maria from work has joined.

So, how much have I lost? To date I’ve lost 23.5lbs but I still have a way to go so I’ve paid for a membership now as I’m finding this is really working for me.

Weight loss tracker

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A Return to Breakfast Club

Now that my road to recovery is well and truly underway my friend Honor asked if I’d like to join her at Breakfast Club again. Breakfast Club is a group of local runners who meet at 8am, run or walk at their own pace for 30 minutes, then turn around and come back. After an hour you’re back where you started and ready for Breakfast.

Breakfast Club group photo

Ready to go! It was freezing

I was running for 2 minutes and walking for 3 this week and Honor was run/walking with me. We set off heading from Stokes Bay back towards Lee-on-the-Solent. I’ve run with Honor a few times and she commented on my pace being faster now whilst running. Although I’m really trying not to focus on pace at the minute, as recovery is more important, this did bring a smile to my face.

We had a lovely chatty run and talked about everything from parkrun to weight watchers. We’d just about reached the parkrun start line when we hit the 30 minute turn around point. Instead of running along the road back, we hopped down on to the prom and ran back along the beach until we had to go back on to the road back to Stokes Bay.

I’d not looked at my watch once and when we got back Honor said “Wow that was an easy 4 miles” I was pretty shocked, it definitely didn’t feel like I’d just run 4 miles! I remember when I was running before my injury 4 miles felt like such a long way but on this day it had felt easy. There’s something to be said for this run/walking lark! I feel like I can go for longer.

Then it was time for the best bit, breakfast! I had my favourite breakfast they do there which is mushrooms on toast. It sounds pretty blah but they cook the mushrooms in something and it is to tasty!

I was back home before 10am having done a good run and having already nailed my 10,000 steps for the day. Perfect!

Run stats

Is there anything like the Breakfast Club near you?

Have you tried a run/walking routine?

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Spectating At The Great South Run 2018

I was meant to be running the Great South Run this year but due to injury wasn’t able to take part. A couple of months ago I don’t think I could have even gone to spectate but now I’m feeling a lot better in myself so….

On 21st October I headed in to Portsmouth to watch the Great South Run. We’d spent a good while contemplating how to get there and eventually settled on just paying the monstrous £10 parking fee to park on Southsea common. We left home at 6:50am to drive over to Portsmouth and get parked.

I knew I wanted to be somewhere around the 8 or 9 mile mark to provide people with cheers and encouragement in those latter stages where they might be struggling and really need the boost. However, first we were heading for breakfast! We walked to The Tenth Hole which is an amazing cake shop that also happen to do some pretty tasty food. It was a good half an hour walk to there and we arrived at 7.55 ready for them to open at 8am. The Tenth Hole was on the Great South Run route and there were signs everywhere saying so and not to park. On our walk there and whilst eating breakfast we probably saw 10 cars get towed away. We even saw one lady park up, get out of her car, read the sign, then go for a jog anyway! Her car was towed about 10 minutes after she left. I bet that was a nasty surprise to come back to!

Sun rise over Canoe Lake

The sun rising over Canoe Lake

For breakfast I had French toast with banana and a coffee followed by a slice of banoffee pie. There were so many runners in there enjoying breakfast too. I’m not sure it’s how I’d fuel my run right before the race but each to their own. When we left and walked to the end of the street I realised we were about 200 yards from the 9 mile marker. It looked as good a place as any to stand and there were toilets right opposite us in case I needed a wee! Priorities!

Andy Vernon warming up

Andy Vernon warming up

We had about half an hour to wait before the elite women set off. I was looking forward to seeing Eilish McColgan and Gemma Steele run. Whilst we were waiting we saw Andy Vernon warming up ready to take on Chris Thompson. We didn’t have too long to wait after that before we saw them around mile 7 (at the end of the road where The Tenth Hole is) and then it only seemed like 10 minutes before they were running past us at mile 9. Eilish McColgan was in first place when she passed us and was looking strong as! I snapped a shot of her and uploaded it to my Instagram stories, only for her to share it on her Instagram stories!

Eilish McColgan

The elite men soon passed after the women and Chris Thompson was in the lead ready to win for the 3rd time. Now I had to get my beady eyes ready to start spotting my friends. The tracker app was next to useless! It told me some of my runners were still on the start line when they’d run past me, and some had finished when they hadn’t. It was down to me to spot them as the app wasn’t reliable. I soon spotted Anna and Kyle. Anna was the happiest person I saw at mile 9. She looked like she was having a great time.

As the time passed by the weather really warmed up. I cheered on Craig from Runr and around 40 people from parkrun. I collected hugs from those that were able to stop. I was shocked to find everyone was dripping wet where they’d poured water over their heads to try and cool down. One friend told me she was suffering with heat stroke! It was so warm and I even got sunburnt. I managed to spot all my friends bar one which I thought was pretty good considering there were 20,000 people running! At the end I was waiting for my lovely friend Mike from parkrun but the app told me he’d finished so we  started heading back to the car. As we passed the finish line I heard the announcer call Mike’s name! So he hadn’t finished after all when the app told me. Luckily I was able to yell through the barricades to him and catch his attention. He laughed when I told him about the mix up and said he’d take the quicker time!

The only downside to the whole day was trying to get out of Portsmouth! It took us about an hour and forty minutes to get home and it’s usually a half hour journey!

Have you been to spectate a big race like the Great South Run?

What’s your favourite race distance?

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Halloween parkrun

Saturday (27th October) was the Halloween parkrun. Fancy dress was of course encouraged. This week I was running with Kerry who is a member of Fareham Crusaders, a fellow blogger and a Women’s Running magazine cover girl!

Kerry dressed as a zombie nurse and I wore my 99p from eBay pumpkin t-shirt!

Halloween parkrun

This week I was running for 2 minutes and walking for 3. I’d done a mid week run on the treadmill which had gone well so I was hopeful this would easily transfer on to the tarmac! It was near perfect running weather for me as it was about 2c! I run so much better in lower temperatures as I just get so hot whilst running.

Kerry and I chatted easily about working out, routines, running and injuries. We kept up a good pace and I noticed that slowly but surely we were moving our way up the pack. We soon caught up with my lovely friend Mike and then ended up playing cat and mouse with him. He overtook us every time we walked, and when we ran we caught him up.

At the end I was surprised to see 420 on my finish token! There were more people there than I had realised! Usually I finish somewhere in the high 300’s. I was even more surprised to see my finish time! I finished in 43:53, a mere 26 seconds away from my fastest ever parkrun! Incredible, especially considering there’s still so much walking! I’ve knocked 6 minutes off my time since the beginning of October when I started back at parkrun after my injury. Mind blown!

Did you dress up for a Halloween parkrun?

If you did, what was your costume?

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Feeling Good!

I’m almost up to date with my parkrun updates! On 20th October I ran with two friends from parkrun, Richard and Penny. They were both running the Great South Run the following day so had agreed to run with me the day before. I’m always grateful that people are actually willing to run with me.

This week was 1.5 minutes running and 3.5 minutes walking so nothing too strenuous for them as they would be running 10 miles the next day. As we ran/walked we chatted about where best to spectate the Great South, I’d told them I was thinking about spectating at mile 9. We talked about parking and the best method of getting there etc. I’d been thinking of getting the Gosport Ferry over to Portsmouth but was still unsure of what was best. The time flew by and conversation flowed really freely between the three of us.

Just as we were heading towards the finish we saw Richard’s wife Gemma. She’d already finished but had really hurt her leg. She was starting to head back to the café so as soon as we finished Richard dashed off to catch up with her. Penny and I however took a selfie. She looks like we’ve barely run a step whereas I look like a tomato!

Penny and I

I improved my time again this week, dropping it to 45:08. I’m not looking at my watch during the run at all as I just want to run and make sure nothing hurts. However I do allow myself a look as I head towards the finish and this week I made a dash for it just to get that little bit closer to my PB. In October I’ve knocked around 4 minutes off my time which I’m pleased with.

Have you run the Great South Run?

Do you prefer running with friends or going on a solo run?

 

 

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parkrun and Contra

parkrun on 13th October saw me wearing my new Contra t-shirt. If you haven’t heard of Contra, it’s a sports brand set up by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun. They carry 10 sizes, everything is ethically made and the profits go back in to parkrun. I’d ordered a t-shirt as soon as they launched. I wasn’t expecting it to arrive, but they must have sent it early as it arrived before the due date.

Wearing the Contra t-shirt

I met up with my friend Claire who I ran with last week as she’d agreed to run/walk with me again. I told her I had absolutely no expectations and I just wanted to finish, preferably pain free! The weather was cool but the winds were really strong thanks to Storm Callum! This week was running for 1 minute and walking for 4 minutes. For the majority of the run the weather didn’t really seem a problem but as soon as we hit the 2nd turn around point, the wind hit you full on. It was like running on the spot. I told Claire at one point “This is so hard” and she answered simply “Shut up and run” That’s the kind of motivating talk I need.

We ended the run in a staggering 46:53. Considering the amount of walking I was doing, I was flabbergasted to be so close to my average of 45 minutes! In fact I was pleased as punch and thankful for another pain free parkrun.

Have you ordered anything from Contra?

What’s your average parkrun time?

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