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.
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.
Dame Kelly Holmes is a double Gold medal Olympian. She won the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Recently on social media she’s been doing something called #joininjune where she has visited various places around the UK and joined in with different fitness class, bootcamps, cycle rides and parkruns.
I’ve mentioned local legend Nick a few times on my blog. He had the crazy idea of us putting a video together and getting her to join us at parkrun and in Gosport to run. So at parkrun we filmed a video asking her to join us, headed up by Geoff, the VC of my running club Gosport Road Runners.
Now if I’ve got my technical skills right, then below should be the video:
Which naturally got everyone very excited. But then we didn’t hear anything and she posted that she was going elsewhere for the last Saturday in June and everyone’s hopes dropped. 7th July was our 3rd Birthday at Lee-on-the-Solent parkrun. Yep, we’re still pretty much a baby. We were having a Rio Carnival theme for the day and the RDs were planning a surprise in the run brief. But then we got a surprise of our own on the Monday of our Birthday week. Dame Kelly Holmes was coming after all!
That Saturday morning everyone was really excited. People were in fancy dress, and I’m talking huge head pieces! We had music playing and oh, word had got out about Kelly Holmes so we also had 601 runners!
Honor (left) Me (Middle) and Erica on the right
The run briefing got underway and Honor and I had hidden in amongst the runners. Maggie was RD so she started the brief, then handed over to us where we sprung ourselves upon people and asked them to tell us the “rules”. It was good fun. I felt like one of the reporters that cover the marathon or something.
Afterwards Kelly got up and said a short speech too which was lovely. She said she loves parkrun for the community. Just a bunch of people running together. She also spoke about how it helped her with her own mental health struggles and how the community of parkrun have helped.
The runners were then sent on their way and Kelly started right at the back with the very last runner.
She then worked her way through the crowd and finished somewhere in the top 20. She stopped just at the funnel though and went back to begin high fiving the runners and offering them encouragement.
She stayed right until the very end high fiving people and cheering them in. She then began the picture taking! Her cheeks must have been so sore from smiling as the queue snaked it’s way down the prom.
Naturally I joined the queue and go a picture with her.
Afterwards Dame Kelly travelled to Stokes Bay and ran the Golden Mile too. I however opted for breakfast!
The Monday after the Gosport Golden Mile I managed to get an appointment to see a physiotherapist. I couldn’t get in to see my usual physio so went with one I’d been to before a few years ago. She came to the conclusion that I had an inflamed adductor. The adductor is the muscle that runs up your inner thigh and in to your groin. She told me I need to let it settle down so no walking, running, swimming or cycling as they’ll all aggravate the muscle. She gave me a massage, highly embarrassing given where my pain was, and did some ultrasound on there too. I’m to go back in two weeks which, as I’m so far behind with blog posts, is actually tomorrow as I’m writing this (Sunday) but yesterday as I post this! Confusing!
People have been telling me recently that I’m looking slimmer and more toned. When a picture was posted of me at the Gosport Golden Mile, for the first time, I could see it too.
The picture on the right was taken about 2 years ago and the one on the left, just over two weeks ago. Feeling pretty pleased with that.
Meeting the Founder
On 20th June I went to Solent University in Southampton to attend a talk given by Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun. When I arrived I met up Anna and her friend. I also saw Roger and Dave, our former parkrun ambassador, a lovely guy (who I think was also called Roger) from Havant parkrun and Martin, the Event Director of Whiteley parkrun. Whilst we waited to be let in to the lecture theatre we reminisced about our university days. It’s fair to say Solent University, particularly the Atrium we were stood in, is far more modern than the campus I spent my University days on.
When we were allowed in to the lecture theatre I gave Anna instructions to get us to the front, whilst I hobbled down the stairs behind her.
We took a selfie whilst waiting for everyone to take their seats and discussed what questions we’d ask if given the opportunity.
Paul talked about so many topics, all under the umbrella of parkrun of course. It was raw and incredibly honest. He spoke of the first parkrun, his core team, the various countries that want to set up parkrun, his role within parkrun and how that has evolved. It was really interesting. At the end people were allowed to ask questions and some people were pretty tough with the questions they asked. He answered them all though. The talk was only meant to be an hour but it went on for a glorious hour and forty minutes. I was in my element and was pretty disappointed when time was called. We were however invited to get a selfie with him.
The final slide shown was the one below that just summed up what parkrun is and what it means to so many people.
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.
I’ve had a little break from running. Sadly this wasn’t quite my own choice but more health and heat related. On Friday before the long weekend my heel started to hurt. At work we have a hard tiled floor in the kitchen and I think walking on that in slippers (the one disadvantage to wearing slippers all day) has hurt my heel. I was going to get up to run on Saturday morning before my stint as RD at parkrun but my heel still hurt so I thought it best to wait.
Saturday morning as RD was very stressful. There are knee high bollards on our course, the marshal that stands down there takes with them bollard covers. These make the bollards much higher and therefore easier to see. However on Saturday morning he rang me to say he’d forgot them. At the same time this happened I was chatting to another marshal who had failed to bring their mobile phone. Marshals are asked to bring their phone in case they need to get in contact with the RD for whatever reason. This particular marshal was meant to be at the defibrillator but can’t do that marshal point without a phone. By now most of the other marshals had left to reach their own marshalling position. I sent him down to the bollard marshal with the bollards. Then the phone rang again. This time it was the slipway marshal telling me the slipway was closed because of the impending hovercraft landing. I asked them to speak to the health and safety guy there we have as a contact. I now had no marshal for the defibrillator but luckily, like a gift from above, my friend Claire came and asked if there were any roles spare. I sent her running to the defib! Then, luckily again, the slipway marshal called back to say it was open. Phew! Somewhere amidst all of this I saw Anna and garbled my stresses at her. She very kindly said I was managing to look calm on the outside. I didn’t feel it! Once the run got underway and I made it down to the finish funnel everything seemed to be going smoothly. That is until the timekeeper told me the timer wasn’t functioning correctly! It had missed some of the runners she had clicked. No pressure to the one remaining timekeeper still working! Thankfully everything else went ok and I had a very quiet results processing as no one else came back to the café! We’re usually a table of ten, but this day was just my husband and I.
I can definitely see the panic in this photo!
Photo courtesy of Peter Stoddard
Afterwards we went back home to wait for our friends to arrive from Sheffield. They were meant to arrive at 3 but didn’t make it down here until 5.30 because of traffic. We went to Miller and Carter for dinner which was lovely. It was a very warm evening and we were grateful to be sat by an open window, unfortunately though this did mean we could smell cigarettes almost constantly as this seemed to be where people went to smoke.
On Sunday, I woke up with a bite just above my knee but didn’t think anything of it. I went to volunteer at junior parkrun. I was timekeeper and despite doing it 37 times before, on my 38th time I was that person that messed it up. I don’t know why but I pressed A to stop/start the watch for the first 5 runners instead of B to click the runners *facepalm* Afterwards I went home and we took our friends to the Tenth Hole. It was lunch time by now so I ordered mac and cheese with bacon which was so nice and a slice of peanut butter drizzle cake.
Afterwards we went for a walk along Southsea beach. We collected pebbles/shells and had a paddle in the sea.
It was such a hot day. We headed back to Lee-on-the-Solent and went to the beach where we chatted and cooled off in the sea.
That evening we went for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Chichester.
On Bank Holiday Monday I opted not to run. My heel felt much better but the heat was unbearable. We went up the Spinnaker Tower for our friends last day. For those not in the know, the Spinnaker Tower is 170 metres tall with three viewing platforms around the 100 metre mark. There were amazing views from the top. I won’t bore you with lots of pictures but here is Gosport, the Marina and views over to the Isle of Wight.
We had pre booked afternoon tea up there too.
The bread on the sandwiches was so soft and the scones, which aren’t pictured very well were as big as your face. It was really yummy and all washed down with unlimited tea and coffee.
That afternoon we had a walk around Gunwharf Quays afterwards. We were all so hot by this point. The temperature was 27c and unbroken sunshine. The bite on my leg that I had woken up with on Sunday morning was really starting to hurt too. We went for a coffee before bidding farewell to our friends. We popped to Tesco to pick up some bits. I nipped to the toilet and noticed the bite on my leg was very red and swollen.
I messaged a couple of friends that evening about my bite. One works as a community nurse and the other works in A&E. Both said to draw around the bite and if it continues to spread and swell get it seen at minor injuries. On Tuesday I woke up and it was still very swollen and spreading. I went to work but by lunch time was concerned as the bite was turning purple and really hot and swollen. I was allowed out of work to go to minor injuries and get it checked out. I was taken straight in to triage to have my observations done and then continually called in and out for the next 2.5 hours whilst they decided what it was. One nurse thought it was cellulitis and that I needed admitting to hospital so they could administer IV antibiotics and the other thought it was a severe allergic reaction to the bite. In the end they opted for the allergic reaction and sent me on my way. I felt quit unwell and went to bed at 7.30 that night. Thankfully, now it’s Thursday the bite is looking a lot better. There are two puncture wounds on it which makes me think it was a spider bite but the thought is creeping me out way too much! I’ll spare you the pictures but on Tuesday it looked horrendous.
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.
After putting out a call for someone to run with on Facebook, parkrun number 31 (12th May) was run with Caroline who is also a member of Gosport Road Runners and a yummy mummy to two lovely boys.
On arrival at parkrun I noticed Anna had come down! She hadn’t told me she was coming so that was a lovely surprise. We had a quick chat before I went to find my place in the starting pen.
I met up with Caroline and said hello to her boys in the double buggy she was pushing. She allowed me a try with it to see how heavy it was. I can confirm it was heavy! But surprisingly had really good steering! We set off and Caroline told me “If I’m too quick or start getting too far in front just shout me back” I replied with “As long as we stay under 15 minute miles I’m happy”
Our parkrun can be quite congested in parts and I definitely experienced this on a whole other level with Caroline. It was difficult for her to be able to over take people and frustratingly after we’d over taken someone, they then over took us but then slowed back down in front of us!
We chatted along nicely and I was surprised when mile 1 popped up on my watch at a 13:43 minute mile. I told Caroline we might need to slow a bit but at the minute I was comfortable so we’d keep going as we were. I don’t know Caroline that well so it was nice to have someone new to chat to and learn a bit more about. She actually made me laugh out loud quite a few times.
We were just passing the finish funnel when we saw Anna as a blur heading past us on the finishing straight. She looked remarkably fast! I then turned my attention to the upcoming ramp and asked Caroline what she planned to do. She told me she’d run up it so I felt I had to run up it too, after all if she can do it pushing a double buggy then I certainly could do it.
Caroline continually asked how I was doing and were we ok pace wise. I still felt quite good and was pleased to see mile 2 pop up with a 14:08 minute mile. We then came to the dreaded shingle and Caroline said she’d catch me up as the double buggy was hard to get through it. It’s hard enough running over on your own never mind with a buggy but she did it.
I told her how the part back from the turn around to the finish point was the absolute hardest for me as it’s often very quiet by then and it feels like the longest part when in actual fact it’s the shortest. Caroline took the lead a little here to spur me on I think. It definitely worked and she pulled me through mile 3 with a 13:23 minute mile! My quickest mile out of all 3! During this mile we also saw Anna on her way back to the car. She told me she’d just gone sub 20. I was so pleased for her and then bored Caroline with Anna’s Brighton PB story too!
As we neared the end she told me to go for it and make sure I over take the elderly gent in front. The elderly gent was John who runs in the 85-89 age category! And still beats me nearly every week! Also check out Coach Keith in the Hi-Viz jacket. I’m pretty sure he’s laughing at my cheeky over take!
When we finished I was very pleased to see I was just over a minute off my PB. That’s the best I’ve run for weeks! Caroline told me afterwards she’d seen how close to my PB we were near the end and sped us up a little. I didn’t even notice! I’m definitely getting better at just running and not watching my watch to see if I can get near my PB. parkrun is meant to be fun after all!
Afterwards, Caroline asked me for a selfie, obviously I obliged!
My running is really improving and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Well as the title says, I’ve finally had a good run! On Friday night I put a call out on Facebook asking for someone to complete parkrun with me. My lovely friend Mike responded saying it was his 100th parkrun if I wanted to run with him. Naturally I said yes! Running with Mike has really worked for me in the past. He has a slow yet steady pace which has helped me achieve running for a mile without stopping, then it was a mile and a half, and then two miles. I’m truly grateful to him.
Mike’s wife Marie ran behind us the whole way and captured the occasion on camera.
We were also joined by Janet who is part of the wonderful volunteering duo Cliff and Janet.
We set off at a comfortable 15 minute mile pace. We were chatting, saying well done to friends and before I knew it mile 1 clicked up on my watch. I felt comfortable both in my legs and with my breathing and I hadn’t felt the need to walk.
We were chatted about Mike visiting a North London parkrun, about Janet’s half marathon last week in Southampton and my return to Scotland in September. The time just passed by so easily and we reached the turn around point (just over 2 miles) without me even really thinking about it. I didn’t hurt and I didn’t have those little voices in my head.
We were soon at the end and Mike suggested a sprint finish. Janet told me it was too early for a sprint so we let Mike go off.
I love how happy everyone is for him. Note Cliff on the right with his arm in the air (Janet’s husband).
Janet and I finished in a time of 46.12. Not my fastest but I was so so pleased as I’d managed to run it all and more importantly it had been comfortable.
I needed this run. I needed a run to finally feel manageable and comfortable. I was beginning to think I’d never have a run like it again. I’m relieved and pleased…and eager to get out there again!
It feels like way more than a week since I did my catch up post! But I already feel like it’s time for another.
Last week after parkrun I bought the kit home as I was to be the RD the following week.
On Easter Sunday I went to spin class with Maria, my spin partner in crime, and work colleague. We go to Virtual spin and it was my favourite one, RPM 75. There’s one section of it that I absolutely love. So much so that I’ve downloaded the track that goes with that section.
As this week was Easter I got another day off in the week as my usual day off is a Monday but obviously it was the Bank Holiday so I was given a Wednesday as my day off. This was great as it meant I could prep the kit for parkrun mid week and get it all done in the day rather than charging it over 3 or 4 evenings. However I had to go in to work for a meeting at 6pm and I always feel like I’m clock watching when that’s the case.
I also wanted to get a run in on Wednesday but it threw it down. It looked like it was stopping so I quickly went and put on my running kit only to come back downstairs and find it had started throwing it down again so I, begrudgingly, did a run on the treadmill. I did a 2 mile run and it was just awful. Running on a treadmill is now so hard! Before it was my comfort blanket. Now I literally hate it. I’m definitely converted to an outdoor runner. Just not in heavy rain!
Thursday was spin class again. Unfortunately the bike I used seemed to have a faulty speedometer and it only recorded 10 miles. I always do around 13! Frustrating but nothing I can really do.
On Saturday I was RD at parkrun. I had all the kit prepared and got there nice and early to set up. I was about to announce the new runners briefing and asked someone to turn the PA system on. They tried but it wasn’t working. It’d switch on for a second then fade out. We’ve had a couple of problems with the PA system and it looked like today was going to be another problem. Well, good job I’m loud! I shouted that the new runners brief was starting and when that was over I shouted the whole run brief to 350 people and was heard! Yep, I’m that loud. Thankfully the rest of the run and the uploading of the results went off without a hitch.
Hollering the Run Brief
Sunday I was tail walker at junior parkrun. As I’ve completely lost my mojo I thought this would be a way to get me out and running. As it happens I ended up walking the whole thing! It was actually really nice though as I walked with a fellow RD’s daughter who I presented with her half marathon wristband in this post. She was just so sweet chatting away. We talked about her pets, her running, her dad’s running, her school friend, foxes honestly the list goes on.
Sunday afternoon I was back at spin class and somehow I managed to get on the same faulty bike again! What a nightmare. It recorded only 8 miles this time despite my watch telling me I’d actually burnt more calories than usual. I felt like I’d worked really hard too so it’s a shame I don’t know how far I really went. A lot of the time the speedometer was telling me I was doing 1mph when I obviously wasn’t so I let the receptionist know that the bike is faulty.
That brings us to Monday. I finally got outside and went for a run. The weather was so rainy but I waited it out and managed to get out when it was just spitting/drizzling. I ran part of the parkrun course and then ran from there to Hillhead beach. It was really quiet out because of the weather. Although I did see some people and it’s funny what people say. I passed a lady for the second time and she said “Ooo you’ve gone far” I didn’t really know what to say so I just did an awkward laugh. I then passed two elderly gentlemen and one said “You go for it girl” ha I said thanks and jogged on. Bless them, they did make me smile though. Somehow I managed to get a new 5K PB! Amazing what being well rested and well hydrated can do! I’m now at 42:13. Ever closer to 40 minutes! Now I just need to try and replicate it at parkrun!
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?