As you probably know if you’re a regular reader, parkrun means a lot to me. Obviously I talk about it to others as I’m there every weekend. If someone asks me what I’ve done at the weekend, the answer is always parkrun. To date I’ve volunteered 159 times and run 33. I always tell people they should try it if they’ve never been and someone finally agreed!
On Saturday, Maria, my spin partner, came to join me at parkrun! We arranged to meet at 8.40 so we could walk down and take her to the New Runners Briefing. However I was quite glad to attend it to as there was a change of route due to there being some works on the beach.
We got ourselves in to the starting pen and were soon setting off. I’d told Maria I’m a slow runner and if she wanted to stick with me we could walk whenever she needed to. We soon caught up with my lovely friend Mike and I was pleased Maria got to meet him as I’ve told her about him before. Maria didn’t need a walk break until after we hit the first turn around point! We had a quick walk and then were soon off running again.
As we continued to the next turnaround point (about a half mile earlier than the normal one) it was very warm and muggy. I struggle so bad in this weather. I’m definitely ready for colder weather again when it comes to running.
Because of the works on the beach we had to go past where the finish funnel would normally be. This definitely messed with my head despite the fact we’d turned around early. As we were running towards the new turnaround point I developed a pain in my groin every time my left leg went down. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t complete the run but it was definitely uncomfortable.
Maria did so well. She only walked 3 times and a fourth because I asked her too as I was struggling with the heat. I finished with a time of 45:18.
Afterwards we went to the café for breakfast and Maria got to meet the core team as we were all there. She commented on how friendly and encouraging everyone had been which made me feel proud. Even better though, she said she’d like to come again! Hurrah, I have made a parkrun convert.
Just over a year ago I wrote this post – My One Year Plan – On 19th May the final piece of the plan came to fruition.
We host 4 takeover a year at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun. My favourite one has always been Gosport Road Runners takeovers and this year, as a member, I was allowed to volunteer and take part as a member.
I had volunteered to pace. This is a role I’ve never done and I know you’re probably thinking “Woah, you paced?!” but don’t worry. I was only the Run/Walk pacer. That’s probably the only one of the pacer roles I could do.
I got down to parkrun early as I was also volunteer co-ordinator. After giving the volunteers their instructions I put on my pacer vest and found my place in the pen.
I started the run with a lady who told me she’d played squash for years and it had wrecked her knees. Now she was trying to run but had never done an out door run, just running on the treadmill at the gym. She told me she couldn’t run for that long so I explained to her how the run/walk would work. After maybe 5 minutes or so she said she felt she could run a little longer than the run/walk offered so she’d run on.
I felt a bit disheartened. I was excited to be the run/walk pacer for the first time but I had no one to help! I decided to treat it as my own interval session instead. I ran a little faster than I normally would on the run sections but then walked at my normal walk pace on the walk sections.
I love this picture Chris captured of me going one way with the 30 minute pacer heading the other way.
As the run went on I definitely felt it. I pushed harder and by the end I was thankful to be nearing the end! So many people asked me if I was ok when they saw me walking. I guess they didn’t realise I was pacing and they’re used to seeing me running now.
As I entered the finish funnel I was definitely ready for the run to be over! Intervals on no fun on 3 miles!
I’d aimed to come in somewhere between 45-50 minutes as run/walk pacer. I came in with a time of 45:09. I was pleased with that.
I spent last week in Scotland! There’s a holiday update coming soon but let me tell you about what we did on our first day there. We went to Aviemore parkrun.
I adore Scotland, the beautiful scenery and miles of lush countryside just waiting to be explored. It’s perfect. I particularly like the Cairngorms National park and have visited many times so when I heard Aviemore had it’s own parkrun I knew I wanted to go next time we were there. I then heard it only gets around 50 people. Then I definitely wanted to go! My local parkrun gets between 350-450 runners. As a slower runner I’m always near the end so the prospect of a top 50 finish was very alluring!
Aviemore was only an hour from where we were staying so after a quick check of their Facebook page to make sure they were on, as there was lots of snow in Scotland, we set off with my obligatory Belvita and cup of coffee.
Pre parkrun picture
When we arrived I introduced myself to Pete the Run Director and told him where we’d come from. He gave us a warm welcome but did seem slightly bemused that we would travel so far! He gave the Run Brief, then we walked to the start. It had said on the course page that it was a short walk to the start but I didn’t expect to have to go through a tunnel! How cool is that?!
The tunnel to the start
Anyway we set off and I soon found myself running beside the tail walker. She introduced herself as Claire and we started chatting. She was such a lovely lady and we chatted about everything from pets to races we had coming up. The run starts by heading through a woodland area and soon opens up. The whole run is on a firm woodland track. I imagine it can get a little boggy but the ground was very frozen when we were there. There were a couple of patches that were sheet ice that I chose to walk over. I didn’t want to break my leg on holiday!
The course is described as an undulating out and back course. However because I was chatting away to Claire I didn’t notice the hills too much which surprised me as all my running is on pancake flat roads! We reached the turn around cone and started to retrace our steps and then there was the moment! The moment that sets this parkrun apart from any other is when you turn and see the Cairngorm Mountain. It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely breathtaking and seeing it covered in snow gave it an almost magical feeling. That moment was incredible and rendered me speechless…for about 30 seconds. I like to talk…a lot! I just wish I’d thought on and snapped a picture!
There were some nice downhill sections on the way back which were great but then Claire told me we were at the last kilometre and it was all uphill. When we got to the start of the hill I, somewhat foolishly thought, “It doesn’t look that big” but it was. It was big and long! Claire gave me a good tip of taking smaller steps and that helped. Usually I try to lengthen my stride on the mini mountain of my local parkrun.
As we reached the end I was given an almighty cheer by the volunteers which was awesome! The volunteers were all so lovely. I was given my finish token and was just about to get it scanned when I thought to check my position number and was super surprised to see I finished in position 28!! I told the barcode scanner I just needed to take a picture of my token which amused her! Claire then explained to her about our large numbers at my home parkrun and it soon made sense.
After taking a picture I thanked Claire and thanked the other volunteers. We then went to the designated café which was upstairs above a lovely homeware shop. I ordered the smashed avocado and eggs on toast which had been recommended in the run brief and it was absolutely delicious!
When the results came through I was pleased to see I was only 2 minutes outside of my PB despite it being a hilly course!
We both really enjoyed Aviemore parkrun and would definitely go back. It reminded me of the much more local Moors Valley parkrun so I feel the need to revisit there again soon.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever travelled for a parkrun?
I’m a little behind with blogging so forgive me for having to mention the The Beast From The East! On 3rd March I was due to be Run Director at my local parkrun. There had been forecasts for snow but being on the South Coast, snow is quite a rarity. I’d prepped the kit naively thinking there wouldn’t be any snow, or if there were, there wouldn’t be very much of it.
Thursday afternoon came and so did the snow. It got so bad that work started to send people home. I left just after 2.30pm. The snow continued and in to Friday. We were given a snow day at work on Friday which meant I could make the final checks on the kit. By Friday night we were starting to think of a plan for the Saturday morning.
Myself and another RD agreed that we’d meet at 7am and walk the course to see how the promenade was looking. However, once she arrived at my house we already knew it was a no go. I couldn’t stand on my drive without sliding on the ice. When I managed to get off my drive the pavement was hard compacted ice. We made the decision to cancel.
Myself and the ED went down to our starting point at 8.45 just in case anyone hadn’t seen the announcements on our social media. We turned 4 people away which wasn’t too bad, it meant the message had got through. We did feel really bad for once fella. He’d travelled to us from Chichester after they had cancelled the night before. He told us he’d not seen the announcements on social media but this was to be his 99th run and the following week he’d travel to Manchester to run his 100th run whilst his brother ran his 200th. Now he was going to have to run his 99th in Manchester! Oops!
We were definitely justified in making the cancellation but I did feel bad for him!
The next day was like the snow never happened. It all melted, there were blue skies and sunshine! Crazy!
I went for a 4 mile run the next day. I had a rough idea of where I’d run that would be around the 4 mile mark but decided to take a couple of detours, you know, to explore? Yeah I got lost…twice! During the run I struggled too. I know some days you have bad runs and this was definitely one. It just felt hard. I managed to do it slightly quicker than my previous 4 mile run though so that’s good. I also got a little boost when I passed by two friends from parkrun who were making up for their missed run the day before.
Obligatory post run picture and stats! Excuse the filter, sometimes I do like to dabble with a snapchat filter!
Every week parkrun UK ask a question on their Facebook page. Sometimes it’s just “Did you join us this week?” or “Where did you parkrun today?” Sometimes they might ask something a bit more in depth e.g. “How does parkrun make you feel?” etc. Occasionally I answer these, if I feel I have something to say.
So imagine my surprise when I left work one night and had a Twitter notification from Anna telling me I’d been featured on parkrun UK’s Twitter page. A few days later I was on their Facebook page!
Imagine my surprise when the following week I was featured again!
I absolutely can not get over how many likes on Facebook this one got! A whopping 761! So many people congratulating me and lots of people complimenting my t-shirt! It’s from OBD Clothing in case you’re wondering!
I’ve loved my little two minutes of parkrun fame!
Have you ever been featured on parkrun’s social media?
Last Saturday it was my Birthday. Since my Birthday was on a Saturday I knew it had to start with a parkrun. I actually contemplated going away for my Birthday and doing some parkrun tourism, but in the end I knew there was no where else I’d rather be than at my home parkrun with my friends.
After a cup of coffee and a Belvita breakfast bar, I took the long way to parkrun to have a warm up. I actually live 0.2 miles away from my local parkrun start line so I actually have to go well out of my way to get a warm up in!
As soon as I got to parkrun people started wishing me Happy Birthday. Then Auz (the guy that was integral in getting our parkrun started) came over with a Happy Birthday helium balloon for me. I was so flattered that he and his lovely lady Rachel got me a gift. 😊
Now I was holding a balloon, lots of people wished me a Happy Birthday. It was so lovely. As the run brief began I positioned myself behind Mike who I ran with in this post. He runs at such a consistent pace I really wanted to try and keep him in my sights.
As we set off down the prom I thought to myself “If I can run to the first shelter I’ll be really pleased” as I’d never managed to run that far before, but low and behold by matching Mike’s pace I reached that first shelter and kept going. My focus now changed to the second shelter and I knew I’d be pleased if I could get that far. But guess what?! I did! My thoughts kept changing “If I can make it to the sailing club, the turn around point, if I can make it back to the sailing club, the second shelter, the finish funnel (We have to run past the finish funnel at around 1.4 miles) I made it to the bottom of the ramp before just needing to walk the ramp and catch my breath. The bottom of the ramp is 1.5 miles in to the course.
I RAN 1.5 MILES WITHOUT STOPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to cry, happy tears of course. However, Mike was calling me and telling me to come on. So when I reached the top of the ramp we were off again. I took a couple more walk breaks but actually ran a lot of it. I was so pleased with myself, what a Birthday treat! Oh and my balloon? The string on it snapped as I reached the second turn around point and turned in to the wind 😢 I was gutted as I’d been planning my Instagram post, me and the balloon in front of the parkrun flag. But no, the stupid wind took it for a trip to the Isle of Wight! Below is my Instagram post minus the balloon!
Never mind, the joy from running so much of the parkrun outweighed the sadness relating to the balloon.
Have you ever parkrunned on your Birthday? Is parkrunned even a word?
I thought I’d give you a little update on how Stokes Bay junior parkrun is progressing. We started on June 4th where we had an epic turn out of 184 children. With the inaugural event, you always expect a bigger turn out but we’ve now settled in to around 80-100 runners a week, occasionally a little more or less.
We’ve not had any major incidents other than the odd scraped knee, but have had a few challenges. These include a sailing competition, a duathlon and a 24 hour running event all sharing the same piece of prom. Everyone has been really understanding though and told their competitors to be aware of children running on the same route as they are, or where they’re moving their boats!
I’ve been Run Director twice now. It should have been three but I had to miss one due to illness. Part of junior parkrun is collecting the milestone wristbands when a child has completed the set amount of runs.
Image courtesy of parkrun.com
When I was Run Director I had the opportunity to present the Half Marathon wristband to my friend and fellow junior parkrun RD’s daughter.
It was an absolute honour to be able to present her with her Half Marathon wristband. The blue Half Marathon wristband represents 11 junior parkruns completed. The green Marathon wristband represents 21 runs and the orange Ultra Marathon wristband represents 50 runs. Parents are also sent a link to print off a certificate for their child.
I also stepped out of my comfort zone this Sunday just gone and took on a volunteer role I have never tried before. I was tail walker. I’ve put my name down to do this before at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun but chickened out as I just wasn’t sure I could keep up with the last person. However at junior parkrun the distance is a lot shorter and usually there is a lot less running involved. The role of the Tail Walker is to stay at the back of the field and be the last person to cross the finish line. Typically as it was my first turn at doing it I actually had a lot of running to do as a child dropped out, and another was in and out of a buggy, and when she was in the buggy, her mum ran! Fast!
I’ve now volunteered at Stokes Bay junior parkrun 14 times and so far we haven’t had any rain!! *touch wood!* This takes my volunteering total for parkrun up to 116!
Want to read my other Stokes Bay junior parkrun posts? The links are below:
On 1st August I injured my Achilles. I’ve rested it, iced it, stretched it. It’s got a bit better. When I first did it, it hurt even without weight on it. Now it only hurts walking down stairs and it’s not exactly a pain, just uncomfortable.
On 19th August I walked a 5k and it was still a little painful. I’ve continued looking after the injury and today wanted to try out walking the parkrun course.
I walked the course with Kieran We also walked with Jade, the tail walker.. Jade is one of my fellow RDs at Stokes Bay junior parkrun. As we walked the Achilles felt absolutely fine. We kept up a good walking pace and chatted all the way round. It was really lovely, the sun was shining and I was chatting away with two friends and also improving my health at the same time. That’s the beauty of parkrun.
It was only towards the end, at the short uphill section, that I even felt my Achilles and again it wasn’t a pain, just uncomfortable. As soon as we had finished it went away and as Kieran and I walked back to the café I couldn’t even feel it.
After the run we took the standard post parkrun finish token photo. Kieran had his Birthday this week just gone and he got a new iPhone 7 plus. His post parkrun finish token photo was so much better than mine! I can not wait to get a new phone. For now though, you’re just going to have to deal with my picture.
We completed the course in 56:19, a good time for walking and still beats the first time I ever did parkrun and walked. I was surprised how hard it felt after a month off though! To be honest I thought we might have dipped over an hour but thankfully it didn’t. Now, the next step? A little try at running, possibly tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes!
On 19th August I volunteered for the 100th time at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I got started at parkrun but in case you haven’t read it before, I moved to the South Coast and needed a way to meet new people. It really is as simple as that.
I’ve met a lot of great people at parkrun and now have a lot of friends as a result. I know I can go and always see people I know, have a natter and a laugh and then finish it all off with a coffee.
There are people I’ve become close to, people I’d never have met if it wasn’t for parkrun, and people from all walks of life. I could write a paragraph to each person who has made my life that little bit better by having them in it as a result of meeting them at parkrun but I feel this blog post would become way too long so instead I’m going to share some pictures of me with my parkrun crew.
Starting with a picture of one of the greatest parkruns. It was part of the #IAmTeamGB campaign and parkrun sent us balloons, bunting, tshirts, sweatbands, selfie frames etc. We had fun in the finish funnel.
This is probably one of the first team photos I was in. The volunteers change every week but sometimes people come and go. I haven’t seen some of the people in this photo for a while which is sad but the beauty of parkrun is that the door is always open.
One of my favourite parkrun memories. I was timekeeping when this guy carried his pug, Dexter, over the finish line. Lots of people take their dogs to parkrun, not a lot of people carry them!
Me with Emma and Geoff, I’m wearing the blue and white Run Director vest. parkrun has enabled me to meet people from all walks of life that do interesting jobs and give their own time to help others.
Another picture from the same day with us all squinting in the sunlight! It is occasionally Sunny at Lee-on-the-Solent but if I’m honest the howling wind and rain has had me wet through to my knickers at parkrun more times than I care to remember.
This is a more recent picture of some of the regular volunteers. The lovely Pippa is wearing the RD vest in this picture, another amazing person I’ve benefitted from knowing!
It’s taken two years to reach 100 times volunteering. Here I am as RD at the 2nd anniversary. We had a fancy dress theme and obviously I am Minnie Mouse. I’ve just realised, it looks like I am the only person in fancy dress in this photo! I swear there were others!!
As well as volunteering at parkrun I’ve now started completing them too. I’m lucky enough to have had people complete them with me. They’re willing to give up their chance of a PB or decent run to accompany me on a slow plod. The photo below is Louise and I. Louise walked with me and gave me great encouragement. I’m truly grateful.
Now a couple of pictures from the morning of my 100th time. I wore my “uniform”, my apricot parkrun t-shirt personalised with my home parkrun Lee-on-the-Solent. The apricot t-shirts are only £27 including personalisation. They’re a great way when you’re doing parkrun tourism to show others where you’re from. In the picture below I’m inputting the results. You can see the lovely card Pearson made for me and the doughnuts and éclairs my friend bought for me to say Happy 100!
I also had balloons that I decorated the finish funnel area with. I started the morning wearing them but after they repeatedly hit me round the head I was ready to pop them! They worked much better on the finish funnel.
And finally the lovely Anna came to Lee. I was very honoured to be asked for a selfie with her! Thanks Anna. Anna writes an amazing running blog that I’ve read for, blimey, probably a few years now! You should check it out.
So what’s next for my parkrun journey. I now really want to concentrate on progressing with my own running at Lee-on-the-Solent and continue my volunteering streak at Stokes Bay junior parkrun. Of course I won’t be able to resist still volunteering at Lee but it won’t be every single week anymore, unless this Achilles injury sticks around!
Are you a fan of parkrun? Why not read my other parkrun posts? These start at the beginning of my parkrun journey.
I haven’t completed a parkrun for a couple of weeks due to hurting my foot falling over a door frame at work. However two weeks of resting, elevating etc meant that I was ready to attempt another parkrun.
My plan was to walk the majority of the parkrun and at the final turnaround point begin run/walking the remainder. I walked the first part and didn’t get any leg pain like I normally do. I ended up walking with three children ranging from 9-15. Perhaps the constant chatter amongst them didn’t allow me to notice any pain! As we continued the leg pain never appeared and we were at the turn around point before I knew it. I began run/walking, supported by the children who were more than happy to run along and call out encouragement. When beginning my run segments I’d pick a point somewhere in the distance e.g. a bin, bench or beach hut. I felt good on the run section and really noticed how the Hokas helped propel me forward.
I finished in 53:27, beaten by all three children! Those pesky kids! It was another parkrun PB so I was pleased. The hot weather meant I felt shattered afterwards! I finished in 386th position! I now can’t run a parkrun for a couple of weeks due to work and having friends visit from Sheffield. I’m really going to try and make sure I keep up with practising though.