Lately my local parkrun is so crowded that it’s not as enjoyable so I decided to embark on a little parkrun tourism. I went to Moors Valley parkrun with my husband which is about an hours drive away.
When we got there it was already quite busy and we arrived at 8.30. I got myself ready, nipped to the loo and then headed down to the start and oh boy, it was so busy! We settled just behind the middle of the pack so we weren’t at the back with people walking but it took a whopping 1 minute and 10 seconds to get over the start line!! I’ll never moan about how long it takes to get over the start line at my parkrun again (Usually somewhere between 40-60 seconds)
We settled in to a comfortable pace quite quickly and were surrounded by people. The most annoying thing was those that have started too far back jostling past you to get ahead. I try to take it in my stride and not let it bother me usually but there was lots of it today.
My husband stayed with me for the first half and then soon broke away as he’s naturally quicker than me even though he run/walks. In the first mile, despite it being a little chilly, I overheated but just my head. It was a really weird sensation. My head was boiling and I was sweating crazily but the rest of me was chilly. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a bit of a head cold all week.
I loved the course, even though it was undulating. The uphills are never too steep there but there are plenty of them. I was really proud that I ran the whole thing. That’s the 3rd time I’ve been to Moors Valley but the first time I have ran the whole course. The first time I went I was still run/walking. The 2nd time I went it was a really hot day and I ended up having to take walking breaks.
I finished with a time of 39:50 in position 577. Lesson learned, Moors Valley is no longer quieter than my local parkrun!
Afterwards we drove to the pub we went to last time and met my Mum there. We all ordered breakfast but it was a bit of a disaster. The coffee machine was broken so they made me and my Mum a cup of instant! Then they came over to say they had no bagels left for the Egg Royale my mum had ordered so she had a muffin instead. When my husband’s breakfast arrived the black pudding was missing from it so they said they could do an extra sausage instead which he gladly accepted but when they brought it over it was still frozen in the middle! We kind of gave up hope at that point so didn’t bother mentioning it.
When we left we saw a Starbucks about 3 doors down and we all said how we should have probably gone there instead. Such a shame because when we’ve been there before it’s been really nice.
Have you bought any of the new parkrun apricot line? I got the hoody for my birthday last month
Do you team parkrun with an excuse to go out for breakfast?
Saturday saw me back at parkrun. I was back at my local parkrun after my adventures at Woolacombe Dunes parkrun.
I went and found the 40 minute pacer and this time it was Kim from my running club. I like it when it’s someone I know as I feel like I can have a good natter and not focus on the running so much. There was a small group of people wanting to run with her. We saw the guy who dresses as a monkey with weights in his backpack and talked a little about how much money he’d raised for charity. He quite often runs our parkrun and local races. He’s in all my race photos from one particular race, where he just beat me. A nice reminder! I told Kim I’d quite like to beat him this time.
I started off alongside Kim and her group and then found Martin who is the ED of a nearby parkrun. I had a lovely little chat with him before he zoomed off in to the distance. By this point though I realised I was quite a way in front of the 40 minute pacer group. I’d gone from a 13 min/mile with them to an 11:30 min/mile! Oops!
So I thought rather than stop and wait or slow down too much I’d just carry on and see where I got. I find running so much harder on my own though. I had no one to chat to for the remainder of the run which was a bit of a pain.
It was nice to see Anna though, although she was already on her way back from the 2nd turnaround point when I hadn’t even reached it yet, and she has a bad knee!
I think it was also somewhere around this point that I overtook the monkey. I had a horrible feeling he’d overtake me again at some point though. As I went around the turnaround point to start heading back to the finish I passed by the 40 minute pacer group and Kim called to me “You’ve got about 400 yards on the monkey” I thanked her whilst in my head thinking “I have no idea how much 400 yards is” haha.
I soon finished and can proudly say I beat the monkey! It’s good to have a nemesis right?! I finished with a time of 39:07 in position 451. The monkey finished in 39:46! Close!
After getting my barcode scanned I went and topped up my run to 4 miles. Now I have that base I want to try and keep topping up my parkrun.
Do you have a parkrun nemesis?
Do people run your parkrun/local races in fancy dress?
I’d had Woolacombe Dunes parkrun added to my parkrun Bucket List ever since.
So on Friday 24th January we drove to North Devon to run Woolacombe Dunes the next day. We found the parkrun really easily. Using the directions from their website we got parked up between the start line and the post parkrun cafe called “The Porthole”. It’s pretty obvious where you’re meant to gather as they had the sign displayed. There was also a course map.
I had a look at the course map but to be honest it just terrified me with words like “steep hill” and “Dune of Doom” I soon got chatting to one of their volunteers who was telling me about the course and how busy it got (Not very). When I told him how busy our local parkrun had been on New Years Day he couldn’t believe it. He told me runners tend to take 5-8 minutes longer than they usually do when attempting this course.
Taken before the run
As we were waiting there were three ladies stood chatting together all with a dog each. One of the dogs took a pee against one of the ladies legs. She was absolutely livid but none of them saw the dog do it so all denied it. I’d seen the dog but thought “ignorance is bliss” on this occasion! She was fuming though!
After listening to the new runners briefing we were soon on our way. It started out lovely. We were on the gravelly path you can see behind me on the above picture. You start on a slight downhill before taking a right on to a slightly steeper downhill path that starts off as gravel and ends as soft loose sand.
We then ran along an undulating path about halfway between the path we had started on which was now above us, and the beach which was still a steep ascent downwards. This path was all loose sand and it was really difficult to run on. As we were saying how tricky it was a man and his two children were right behind us. He asked where we usually run and when I said “On a promenade” he answered “Oh you’ll not find one of those here!”
We carried on the undulating path that then started to head downhill, and then started to head downhill very sharply. There was a long very steep downhill section that I tried to walk but actually because it was so steep my legs were going faster and faster! As we got to the bottom on to the beach I said to the marshal there “Do people actually run down that bit?” to which she answered “Oh that’s nothing, it gets a lot worse” Great motivational speech!
We then ran for about a mile or maybe just under along the beach. The tide, thankfully, was out so we weren’t wading. The sand was at least semi hard and compacted so was easier to run on. As we were running I commented to my husband about how fishy smelling it was. Then we noticed a huge fish on the beach all caught up in a thick roped fisherman’s net. When I say huge I mean probably a metre at least. A dog came running up to it and was having a good sniff despite it’s owners trying to call it back. I called to them that he’d found a fish and they asked “Is he trying to eat it?” But actually he just looked a bit bemused by it! They ran over to try and retrieve him as we headed on.
That’s when we arrived at the “Dune of Doom” or the “Travelator” as they also call it. It was a very steep up hill section filled with loose sand. As I tried to climb it, every step I took up slipped halfway back down. It was an absolute killer section of the course. My thighs and lungs were burning by the time I got to the top and I actually had to stop just to try and catch my breath. The views were beautiful though but we were actually only halfway back up towards where we had started. As we ran along more undulating paths that were loose sand you could see the start point if you craned your neck as it was still so high.
We then climbed another hill and the marshal at the top said “Nearly there now, just the worst hill to go” Seriously! Their marshals need to work on their motivational phrases! We were going so slow by this point, although I was still running, that I got overtaken by two people walking!! I cursed them so bad in my head! They were way ahead of me in no time and then we began the final climb, it started off a shallow climb and grew steeper and steeper. As I got about halfway I gave up running and just walked as I was spent by this point. The top of the climb was, no word of a lie, practically vertical! The marshal at the top congratulated me when I got to the top but then said “Just the last 400 metres to go, uphill, but it’s not as steep as this bit” I ran as much as I could and walked a little up that last section and, honestly, never have I been so glad to see the finish line of a parkrun! My thighs and calves were screaming! They’re used to the flat South Coast and clearly didn’t like the hilly North Devon coastline.
I was still pretty pleased with my finish position as it was low compared to where I usually finish. I finished in 48:59 in position 75!
Afterwards I snapped this picture but it doesn’t do justice to the steep uphill climbs we did, it just doesn’t look as steep.
We walked down to the café and at first thought it was just a takeaway as we couldn’t see any seats but on closer inspection realised all the seating was upstairs in the roof space. It was a small, compact café but did really tasty food. We shared a brie, cranberry and pumpkin seed sandwich which was amazing. I also had a brownie which was incredibly gooey and my husband had a ginger and treacle tart that came with a nice dollop of clotted cream! They were heavenly.
When seated upstairs there’s a porthole window to look out of with lovely views. The logo is painted on their wall.
Afterwards we headed back to our hotel to shower and then spent a lovely afternoon in Woolacombe and Ilfracombe having a wander round.
parkrun on 18th January was a busy one. As two local parkruns (Fareham and Eastleigh) were closed due to icy conditions, it seems some of them had come to join in the fun at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun.
I went and found the 40 minute pacer which turned out to be Jon. Jon is kind of Insta famous. Usually with the 40 minute pacer there is a small group but today it was just the two of us. We chatted about a lot about Instagram and how people use it for different things. We actually shared lots of the same views on Instagram which was nice. He’s met some of the owners of famous Instagram running accounts and it was interesting hearing about them.
We both work in education, although in entirely different settings, and it was interesting comparing notes on that and Ofsted. We also chatted about making the most of the time you have. Jon only needs 4-5 hours sleep a night and said he finds himself with more time than most. I however need 8-9 hours and find myself with less time than most due to work.
As we were approaching the last little bit Jon decided to hang back as we were ahead of schedule and he wanted to see if there was anyone that needed a bit of encouragement. I plodded on and finished with a comfortable time of 39:21 and in position 640. There were 707 runners this week! It’s great that parkrun is becoming increasingly popular but it makes for a packed out course!
I think I look incredibly tired in this picture
Do you know someone “instafamous”?
Are you finding your local parkrun increasingly busy?
I’d just about recovered from the New Years Day Double parkrun when it was time to run again on Saturday 4th January. I love how the Christmas period allows quite a few parkruns in quick succession with Christmas Day and New Years Day thrown in the mix.
When I arrived at parkrun I looked out for the 40 minute pacer and saw it was Geoff, who was running with his daughter Laura. We had a lovely run together. Laura and I have mutual friends in common who we’ve both worked or work with, as we used to work in similar fields. We had lots to chat about as a result.
It was a lovely chatty run with Geoff dipping in and out as he was pacing so had to maintain his pace whereas we kept breaking away a little. It was a really comfortable run. 40 minutes seems to be a good easy pace for me! I finished in 39:34 in position 557.
I made it back home from Whiteley parkrun with enough time to get a drink, nip to the loo and walk down to my local parkrun. When I got there I could already tell it was busy!
I went and found Phil who was pacing the run/walk group. I haven’t ran 10K since the The Breakfast Club Charity 10K so figured, after running the first parkrun, it was probably sensible to run/walk the 2nd. We were so far back from the start line because there were so many people there. With my local parkrun not starting until 10.30, it made a good choice for people to be able to get to after a 9am parkrun.
There was quite a group of people choosing to run/walk to I chatted to various people in the group which was lovely. Some had been to a different parkrun first and some people were parkrunning for the first time. It was really lovely being able to chat to new people.
As the crowd thinned out slightly the running portions of the run/walk were getting quicker. I was needing the walk breaks to catch my breath. I ended up splintering off and running the remainder at a much more comfortable pace with someone I’d just met. She was attending with another one of my parkrun friends who was just ahead of us. We had such a lovely natter about the different tourisms we’d done. It’s amazing how much you can find to talk about with a complete stranger when you have parkrun in common!
I finished that parkrun with a time of 43:20 in position 942!! There was a new attendance record set on New Years Day of 987! It was so busy, but enjoyably so. Everyone just seemed in such good spirits with it being New Years Day.
Confession: I was really sore that afternoon from my double run! Thankfully going back to work on the 2nd January sorted me out. I have an active job and it really helps aid recovery.
I was so relieved not to have gotten ill this year and finally been able to tick off the New Years Day Double!
I’ve never made it to a New Years Day parkrun. The last two years I’ve fallen ill with a virus a couple of days before and both times slept through the final days of December and thought I’d missed New Year! Thankfully though, not this year…or last year!
I was planning on doing the double parkrun with my first parkrun being Fareham parkrun at 9am and then coming back over to my local parkrun at 10.30am. I posted on Facebook on NYE asking my friends where they were doing parkrun and someone asked if I’d thought about doing Whiteley parkrun. They got me interested with the promise of no mud (unlike the muddy Fareham parkrun) so my plan was changed. I was going to Whiteley at 9am instead.
Whiteley parkrun is at the side of a large outdoor shopping area. I’ve been to the shopping area before and knew there was a parkrun there, but had no idea where the parkrun was actually held. We got parked up and it was easy to figure out where it started, just follow the line of lycra clad runners! I stopped on the way to take a picture with one of their Christmas decorations!
At the start line I found Penny and Lorna and had a little chat with them before listening to the first time runners briefing. I’ve avoided Whiteley parkrun as it’s laps and I thought 3 laps of a field would be soul destroying. It turns out I’d had the route completely wrong in my mind and the field was only part of the course.
It was actually an enjoyable route. You start running around the edge of the field, you actually run right past people’s front doors which I found surprising. One of them had a dog barking wildly inside and I thought they must get very annoyed every Saturday with the parkrunners sending the dog bonkers! There’s then a slight downhill which leads in to a more “woody” area, but it still has tarmac paths, before you turn around and wind back towards the start before starting the next lap. On the third lap you just peel off to the finish funnel instead of running back past the start.
The course has one particular part which is very narrow with the runners going in both directions right alongside each other. I kept hearing a lady shouting at runners, things like “Oi, watch where you’re going” over and over. She was behind me so I thought she must be an angry pedestrian caught up in the parkrun but as I turned around and ran back towards her I realised she was a parkrunner. She was only a little way behind me and she shouted and swore the whole way round!
I saw quite a few people I knew from my local parkrun there so it was nice to look out for friendly faces and because it was laps I managed to see them a couple of times. I ran with Phil for a good while. He was pacing the run/walk group at my local parkrun afterwards and I said I’d probably join him as I’ve not run 10K since May.
Another thing I did note about the course, you’re told to keep right. As I was keeping right and passing the finish funnel the faster runners were peeling off to finish their run and they run straight in to your path, or perhaps I plod through theirs. Either way, it was a close call for me as a runner ran in front of me and missed me by inches.
I ran much better than I did on the 28th December but I did take a couple of very brief walk breaks. I thoroughly enjoyed the course though and will definitely head back to Whiteley parkrun at some point. They had a record attendance with 460 people attending.
I finished with a time of 38:57 in position 431. I went straight back to the car which my husband had very kindly gone back to and warmed up so I wouldn’t get too cold on the drive towards home.
I’m sorry it’s more than halfway through January and I’m still updating from Christmas! I’ll catch up eventually.
I expected Christmas Day parkrun to be really quiet. In the past couple of years it’s been less well attended than the normal Saturday parkruns. I was expecting a good finish position. I was wrong, oh so wrong! 543 people decided to come down to parkrun on Christmas Day!
I started by having a chat with friends, as usual! We snapped a very rushed selfie right at the beginning. The RD was actually saying 321 as we were snapping it! I think we all managed a pretty good pose though.
As we set off, Charissa (Who I’ve accidentally chopped off the picture!) asked if she could run with me. We’ve chatted a few times about pacing. I run slow but run the whole thing whereas Charissa runs faster but takes walk breaks. We ran together and although I’d love to say I paced her to an amazing time, it was absolutely jam packed and we got stuck behind some slower runners and I actually ended up with one of my worst times for the year. Oops! It was, however, lovely to get to know her a little better as we’ve never run together before.
We finished with a time of 39:24 so still below 40 minutes which I’m happy about!
Seems a while since we had a horribly windy parkrun so nature decided the 14th December seemed as good a time as any!
I was partially dreading this run as I was running alone and it seems like such a long time since I ran on my own. I got down there and did the usual natter with my friends before finding the 40 minute pacer in the starting pen and positioning myself just ahead of them.
We set off and although it was windy it wasn’t too bad at the beginning, probably because my local parkrun is so crowded at the start so I had some protection from the crowd around me. Honestly, I timed the other week how long it took to get over the start line and it was 45 seconds!
As we hit the first turnaround point and the crowd thinned, the wind picked up. As we passed the finish funnel there’s then a really open bit and the wind was brutal there. It blew me sideways as I fought to keep moving forwards.
As we progressed onwards towards the 2nd turnaround point I thought the wind would be behind me then and give me a little push along. It didn’t! Granted it wasn’t as strong but it was still really windy.
I finished in 38:54 which was exactly a minute slower than last week, which considering the winds, actually wasn’t too bad.
After parkrun I dashed home to shower as we were going flat hunting with my Mum again. I’m pleased to say she put in, and had accepted, an offer on a lovely flat. It’s such a good location for her too.
On 7th December, I went along to my local parkrun again. I actually almost overlaid! On a parkrun morning I set an alarm for 7.30 so I can have a coffee and ya know, let bathroom things happen. I leave the house about 8.40. On this particular day I turned the alarm off, and then, fell back asleep! This never happens to me. I woke up at 8.10 so necked a coffee and got ready. You know what, it wasn’t that bad! I still got there in time so it didn’t turn out bad.
I met up with Rachel there and we had our usual chatty run. We were chatting about the weather, work etc and enjoying the run. There was nothing really to report, but after the 2nd turnaround point I could feel myself starting to flag a bit. I apologised to Rachel and said I couldn’t talk anymore. She said it was fine and she’d do the talking, which she did!
When we finished I looked at my finish time and was amazed to see I’d cracked back in to the 37 minute mark. I finished in 37:54, no wonder I was flagging. I haven’t finished in the 37’s since May! I was so pleased. I don’t know how I did it though! Maybe it was getting up late that worked well for me! Who knows?!
After we finished I had a lovely catch up with Paula who is returning from a huge injury and absolutely smashing it.