My husband hadn’t been to parkrun for a couple of weeks due to illness. As a result, I’d not been going to the normal parkrun café, but to one on the way home instead where I picked up a coffee for me and a bit of breakfast for us both. The coffee is incredibly good there so when my husband returned to parkrun I suggested we went there for breakfast after parkrun instead.
Before parkrun selfie
When we got to parkrun my husband was trying to decide if he should run with me or not. He always sets off too fast and he thought by running with me it’d give him a slower start, meaning he then wouldn’t struggle later. Eventually he decided that he would. We set off and after the first mile I asked him if he wanted to go on. He didn’t but after about a 1.5 miles he started struggling with knee pain. He walked a little whilst I trotted at the side of him. After a few stop/starts at around the 2 mile mark he told me to go on as he was going to walk the rest. Because we’d had such a stop/start run I actually felt pretty fresh so felt really good in the last part of parkrun, for probably the first time ever!
Frustratingly I finished within 8 seconds of my personal best! I gritted my teeth and tried not to blame my husband haha. When he came through the finish funnel he said his knee actually felt a bit better for walking, which was good. So we set off to the new café I’d been popping to for the past couple of weeks.
Oh I do love a filter
When we got to the café I ordered a latte whilst my husband had a hot chocolate which quite frankly arrived looking like a dessert! For breakfast I had a toasted teacake and a Bakewell tart afterwards whilst my husband enjoyed a cheese and ham toastie and then a fruit scone with jam and clotted cream. I have to admit, it did look very scrummy!
On the way back from the café it was nice to see some of the trees blooming. Particularly my neighbours magnolia tree and our own blossom tree. It makes me hopeful that Spring is on it’s way!
Saturday I set off to parkrun on my own as my husband was ill in bed. When I got there I met up with Maria. We didn’t intend to but we ended up running together as we had lots to talk about. Maria had left work the day before so we caught up on how her last day was and what the future holds for her.
The first mile whizzed by, maybe a little too quickly! A 12:13 minute mile is still quite fast for me but mile 2 was even quicker at 12:08! It’s amazing how you don’t notice it as much when you’re chatting away. By mile 3 though I really felt like I was struggling but it was only slightly slower at 12:28.
Maria and I have both entered a 10K in May and Maria said she might top her run up to 4 miles. I’d actually been thinking the same thing, especially since I wouldn’t have to worry about my husband waiting at the end so we decided to run together and continue to make it up to 4 miles. Luckily the breather we had whilst getting scanned meant mile 4 was very slightly quicker. I felt a lot fresher though as I’d had chance to catch my breath.
We did 4 miles in 49:21. I told Maria that for a long time I couldn’t even run a 5K in that time and now we were knocking out 4 miles! We were even back before the last people had finished their parkrun. My parkrun time was 38:02 so just within a minute of my PB. I thought about asking someone to pace me to 37 minutes next week but I struggled running 38 minutes! Mind you I was chatting.
Maria and I after our 4 miles.
What do you think, should I give 37 minutes a bash if I can find someone to pace me?
On Monday evening when I finished work I spoke to a friend on my way home. She’s having a really hard time of it. She has a few health problems going on, which is affecting her ability to work, which in turn is making her stressed, which is then affecting her mental health, which then makes her health worse and so the cycle goes on.
When I finished speaking to her I went for my evening run. I’d a simple out and back route planned so as I ran I was just able to let my mind drift and not have to worry about taking a left turn here or there etc. My mind was focussed so much on my friend. It makes me wish I had a magic wand and could just magic everything away for her. It seems like a childish and simple wish. It’s so hard though when there’s really not a lot you can do other than listen and try and say the right things. Her health problems are currently undiagnosed. The doctors are unsure about what it is but are trying to find it with different tests etc. I completely understand the frustrations she’s feeling, especially since she’s been like this since early December. Whilst speaking to her I diplomatically tried to tell her that drinking to forget her problems also won’t help anything.
Selfishly it made me thankful that on the whole I’m pretty healthy (even though I’m now on my 6th cold since Christmas). On the whole I’m a naturally chirpy person, obviously I have down days like anyone does but they’re rare. And I’m thankful that I don’t see alcohol as a medicine. I like a tipple but I barely drink alcohol. It did make me realise though how much of a therapy running can be. I never used to think I ran for “head space” until I couldn’t run last year. Then I realised I probably did. But on Monday evening I realised I definitely did. It gave me the time to think over things and although I’m not able to magic away my friend’s problems I know I’m being as supportive as I can be and she appreciates that.
Obligatory post run selfie. Wishing I was as magic as a unicorn to make problems vanish.
On Saturday 2nd February I got myself down to my local parkrun for my 51st parkrun! I was looking forward to this particular parkrun because we were running the C route. This is the route where we get to miss the tricky shingle section of our normal route. I hate the shingle, I can’t help but slow down as my feet sink in to the pebbles. I end up like Bambi on ice!
Speaking of ice, we had to check the parkrun page at 8am to see if it was going ahead as it had snowed on Thursday evening and some areas had some icy patches left over as a result of the temperatures still being low. Luckily it was still on although it was mentioned on the Facebook post that there would be some cones over patches of ice. No great shakes I thought so off we went.
I ran this parkrun alone. Once again it was very congested and I was working my way around people. The beginning of our course is quite narrow anyway, but when it’s congested, it makes it even more difficult to manoeuvre around people. As I was running I heard a marshal ahead shouting to watch out for ice and follow the diversion. There was a large patch of ice on one of the slipways and we were diverted on to the beach. So much for no shingle!
I always overheat on a run but on this particular day I hadn’t warmed up by the time I reached the first turnaround point. As I made the U-turn at the cone I was then hit by the icy cold wind. I was cold, particularly on my left side where the wind was blowing from. As I made my way back towards the start, following the diversion over the shingle again (!) my left arm started feeling weird. I couldn’t straighten it without getting pins and needles spreading up and down it. It actually felt impossible to straighten as the pins and needles was too painful. I continued whilst periodically trying my arm out. It still wouldn’t straighten. I actually thought to myself “Am I having a heart attack? Well if this is a heart attack it’s not as bad as they make out”
I passed the finish funnel and headed to the new, closer turnaround point. On the way I saw the lovely Honor, who I run with semi regularly. I was pleasantly surprised to see her until two things: 1. I tried lifting my arms in surprise to shout her and couldn’t because of the weird pins and needles thing and 2. She told me we were being diverted on to the shingle because of ice on the prom! Dammit, I’d done shingle twice already and this was meant to be the no shingle route!
Over the shingle I went and obviously turned in to Bambi on ice in an instant. Then I made the U-turn at the turnaround point and it was like a different day. There was no wind at all and the sun was beating down. Naturally I began to overheat in an instant but it did start to cure the pins and needles. As we’d turned around early (and gone over the fourth shingle diversion) we then had to run further so we had to pass the finish funnel. This always messes with my head because my head is always saying “Oh we’re here, that means we’re nearly finished” It was really crowded trying to get through this section because everyone who had already finished was milling around. A woman I was running close to said to me “Bloody hell, can you see a way through that lot?” I responded by shouting “Shiiift” and the people parted haha.
We then reached the third turnaround point and the wind was back, and now because I was hot and sweaty I got cold very quickly. It was horrendous. I also ended up running behind someone who didn’t seem to have showered in quite some time. It was not pleasant being in his down wind. I could see the finish funnel in the distance by this point and a quick glance at my watch told me I could probably bag a PB here so I sped up and passed the man. I sped up too early though and ended up having to back off a bit so I could actually make it to the funnel.
I did get a PB though. 37:05! I was shocked as I’d felt so horrendous through it. As soon as I got my hoodie back on and started walking home I felt absolutely fine. My husband wasn’t very pleased with me though! He was adamant I should have stopped. There is no post parkrun selfie this week as the one I took I realised afterwards that I didn’t like it!
After parkrun we went straight home and showered rather than going to the parkrun café. This was because we were heading to a coffee morning organised by Penny, who I’ve run with a few times now. She’s running the London Marathon for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and the coffee morning is one of her fundraising events. We went and enjoyed a bacon sandwich, cup of coffee and a slice of cake. The cake was home made and delicious. My husband had two pieces of cake as he couldn’t decide which he wanted! As the coffee morning was in Stubbington we went and had a look around the shops afterwards but didn’t buy anything.
On 26th January I ran my 50th parkrun! It’s taken me from May 2017 to January 2019 to achieve it. My 50th was something I wanted to celebrate so I bought myself a sash from eBay that said “50 parkruns” on it and had a silhouette of a woman running. I was really pleased with how it turned out and it was only a couple of pounds!
I ran with my work friend Maria and parkrun friend Penny. We had a nice chatty run. As we work in similar environments we chatted a lot about work and opportunities/career advancement. We also chatted about upcoming races in the area as Maria would like to progress further than a 5k. I mentioned a 10K being organised by The Breakfast Club. It’s not an official race but there will be marshals, a medal and a race number. Because it’s organised by The Breakfast Club the usual rules apply, run at your pace. I’ve signed up for it, amazingly it’s only £5, on local roads and the money raised goes to The First Light Trust, a local charity offering support to veterans. And obviously we get breakfast afterwards. What more could you want?!
The beginning of parkrun was so congested again, damn those new year participants! We struggled to catch up and overtake the 40 minute pacer because of the sheer volume of people. I finished in 39:29 in the end. Not my greatest time but it was a nice chatty run.
In the evening we went to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema. Queen have been a constant in my life. My dad was a huge fan and my husband is too. What is it they say about marrying someone like your dad?! The film was brilliant. I knew it ended at Live Aid but as soon as Live Aid started I just cried and cried. Such a loss of a talent. I wept right through to the end of the credits! Thank god it’s dark in the cinema!!
I quite like January as a month, it’s one of new beginnings, my Birthday, cooler weather. I hate seeing people whinge about how dark it is…obviously we forget the shortest day is actually in December! I posted an Instagram post about this the other day and Anna hit the nail on the head by saying “Make your own sunshine” I agree completely. The picture was of these…
These brightened January right up when they were in full bloom. I was impatient though and had to take a picture early!
Before you start this one, grab yourself a cuppa and get comfy, it’s a long one!
On 18th January my husband and I headed to Birmingham for The National Running Show 2019. We’d booked in to the Hilton Hotel on the grounds of the Birmingham NEC. We were ideally placed as it was only a 15 minute walk to the show from there.
On the Saturday morning we got there early. Not anywhere near early enough though as there was already a huge queue of people waiting to get in. There was a jam packed schedule for the duration of the show. There were guest speakers on two stages throughout the day, workshops as well as all the vendors there ready to sell you the latest offerings.
When we got inside we headed straight to the main stage. As soon as I realised how busy it was I knew I needed to stay where I was to keep a seat as once I stood up there was no way I’d be sitting back down!
Susie Chan and Ben Smith
The show was opened by Susie Chan and Ben Smith (of the 401 challenge) they both gave a brief description of who they are and what we could expect at the show. Then the guest speakers started. The first speech we watched was by Jordan Wylie. I’d never heard of him if I’m honest but ended up being amazed by the work he has done. He runs in war-torn countries and helps buy them educational aids. He’s also one of the hunters on Hunted!
We then watched Jo Pavey. Now, I’m a huge fan of Jo Pavey and have been for quite some time so I was keen to hear her speech. She spoke about how her career has progressed and how she manages to run as well as being a Mum. She showed footage of her getting her gold medal at the 2014 European Championships. It gave me goosebumps seeing it again, just like it did in 2014.
Next up was Roger Black who actually hails from Gosport! He spoke of his running career and how he was part of the gold medal 4x400m at the 1991 Tokyo World Championships. His speech was quite funny. He’s a natural in front of an audience.
Next was a lady called Alex Cook. To be honest, I was only there to watch Iwan Thomas who was on after her but her speech was actually quite interesting. It was about how to fuel for a marathon and how to plan for this. If I ever run a marathon (probably won’t) then I feel like I now have some knowledge on how to equip myself with fuel for this.
The last speech of the day that we listened to was Iwan Thomas. Iwan lives semi-locally to me. He runs at one of the local parkruns and when I see him on Instastories I often know where he is. It’s a bit surreal. He spoke about his athletic career. He was naturally gifted as a sportsman and did lots of different sports at school to a good level. It was nice to learn a bit more about him.
After this we went and got lunch and then headed back in to look around the different stalls. I managed to find the guys from runr and bought a hat and a hoodie. It was almost impossible to look at many more stalls though. It was so overcrowded we were trying to look at stalls but just couldn’t get near them, sometimes it was just people trying to get past themselves and sometimes it was people all trying to look at the stall too.
Day 1 Purchases
There was another talk I wanted to go to but you couldn’t get anywhere near the main stage so we ended up leaving a little earlier than I’d thought we would. We went back to the hotel and then went and had a look around a small shopping centre that was on the grounds of the NEC too. We then went to the cinema to see Mary Poppins Returns which was a very cute movie.
On Sunday we went back for day two. We got there a little earlier than the day before but we were even further back in the queue. When we got in we ran to get a seat at the main stage, along with lots of others. It was madness. Susie and Ben opened the show again and then the mighty Paula Radcliffe did her speech. I actually can’t remember much of what she spoke about but I remember she spoke about her foot injury, running the London Marathon with the masses and her asthma.
During Paula’s speech Ben Smith came and sat right beside us so I snapped this picture and obviously he caught me!
After Paula’s speech I jumped up so I could go and speak to Mary from A Healthier Moo. It was so nice to finally meet her as I’ve followed her blog for quite a while and we chat on various social media. I wish we’d had longer to chat though, or an easier place to chat! I did snap a quick selfie though. The woman in the background of the picture I ended up speaking to about 4 different times through the day. She was so lovely and I never even asked her name.
We then headed over to the other stage and listened to two men from Fitness First talk about strength and conditioning exercises. This would have been aided by demonstrations of some exercises for each area they spoke about. Then we listened to Paul Addicott talk about pacing. I’ve seen Paul around on Twitter many times and I knew he did a lot of pacing for some of the popular British marathons. His speech was really interesting and when he opened it up to the audience to ask questions I went ahead and asked one. I asked how he handles pacing when the weather doesn’t play ball. We get really bad winds down on the South Coast and I wondered how he’d handle that. He said people still rely on you regardless of the weather so you really just have to try and keep at it. Harsh!
I then listened to the next speech which was billed as “A Runner’s journey from inactive to Run Leader Mentor”. I’d never heard of Sam Mollaghan before but as soon as she told us who she was I knew her. She’s the first poster girl of the This Girl Can campaign. The lady running with the slogan “I jiggle, therefore I am” Her story was probably the most inspirational speech I heard all weekend. Her story really resonated with me and I could see myself in a lot of what she was saying about how she built up her running, how she overcame injuries etc. She even has her own running group now. Absolutely amazing!
After Sam, we then listened to a question and answer session with Jo Pavey. Her name wasn’t in the itinerary for this one. I only found out she was there because the lady I kept bumping in to told me.
Anyway this was my chance to grab a selfie with her and then, I couldn’t believe it, she wanted to chat to me! She asked me about my running and what my next race is. Gobsmacked!
Afterwards we went for lunch and then went round the stalls again. It was much quieter on the Sunday so I managed to have a good look at some of the stalls I wanted to. I went and bought a flipbelt. I’ve seen so many good reviews about them but have always worried I wouldn’t fit in to one. Well I did so chose a reflective one since it’s winter and dark night runs are a thing. I also got a bottle that fits in to it. Then we also bought a box of flapjacks from Flapjackery. They were really good.
We headed off after I’d made my last purchases. I wanted to hear Nell McAndrew’s speech but it was 4 hours and I’d pretty much done everything I wanted to already so decided to head back to the South Coast early to get ready for being back at work on Monday.
Overall it was a brilliant weekend. I heard so many people speak who I admire, I guess the only downside was the crowds on the Saturday. It didn’t put me off that much though as I’ve already got tickets for next year.
A kind of unofficially have set myself the goal of trying to do one tourism parkrun a month. I’ve set it unofficially because you never know what’s going to crop up so I might not always succeed with this goal. However, in January, I nailed it.
I’ve been wanting to do the unofficial Gavin & Stacey parkrun challenge by doing Barry Island parkrun and Billericay parkrun since I read the story about the people of Billericay parkrun travelling to Barry Island when their parkrun was cancelled for Bonfire Night. The news article is HERE if you want to read it.
So on Friday 11th January we drove up to South Wales. I was apprehensive about it all week as I’d been full of cold, luckily it seemed to be subsiding by the Friday so I was pretty confident I could still run it. When we arrived at our hotel we got the friendliest welcome from the two ladies on reception who asked us what had brought us to Wales. When we told them they told us about them filming near one of their houses and how she could never get home as everyone had to wait whilst they finished filming in the street.
After dropping off our bags in the room we walked to Barry Island promenade. Our hotel was ideally placed at only a 10 minute walk away. When we got there I started thinking about where the parkrun course might be. I’d looked at their course page so I knew where it started but that was it. I presumed it was simply along the prom like my local parkrun is but looking from one end to the other I realised it probably wasn’t as it was such a short distance. After having a look around we went back to the hotel and I looked at the course and soon realised it was going to be a hilly run as you go up on to the cliff tops! Oops! I was not expecting hills.
The next morning we got up and headed out to the parkrun. I’d dropped the team an email to ask if there was somewhere I could leave a jacket and they gave us a shoutout in the runners brief which was nice. The run starts under a covered area of prom, however with 208 runners we did spill out of the uncovered area, thankfully it was only raining lightly.
We were soon underway and as I was running on my own (my husband was running his own parkrun) I hoped there would be people around me so I could just follow the person in front! We ran from the covered area of the prom towards Marco’s Café and the square where Gavin meets up with Stacey when she comes back from London. We then turned right and began to climb, we followed a path that takes you up on to a bridge over the prom and then carried on climbing before heading down again, you then ran quite close to the edge of the cliff tops along a flat section before turning and heading up a very steep but short stretch. There was a marshal at the top of there giving out so much encouragement, I’m sure I’d have walked the second time if he’d not have been there. You then ran back along the path before heading back down along the prom to the covered section where you did a U-turn and did the whole thing again. I managed to run the whole thing which I really wasn’t expecting. I was very pleased though!
I finished with a time of 38:38, which is only a minute and a half outside of my PB at my local pancake flat course! This actually gave me hope for the hilly Romsey 5 mile race I have coming up in June.
Unfortunately as check out was 12, we didn’t get chance to go to Marco’s Café for a post parkrun breakfast as we still had to get back, showered and packed up.
I added this photo of me to my social media and tagged parkrun. Much to my surprise they used it on all their social media and in the newsletter for the following week! parkrun fame!
There was a bit of chatter before this parkrun on the old Facebook. People were moaning about how cold it was meant to be (2c) however this was getting towards my preferred running temperature. I like it when it’s freezing to -2. I actually got tagged online a couple of times with people saying “Your weather is finally here”
Anyway I was finally feeling better after being ill over New Year so it was time to resume exercise and run a parkrun. I ran this parkrun alone. I’m sure I’ve said this before but when I run alone it means I can concentrate on my breathing a bit better. I tend to struggle getting my breathing right more than anything else.
The start of my local parkrun is almost always congested. Even more so with it being the New Year. It takes a good 20 seconds or so before I’m even moving let alone running. As I ran towards the first turn around point I didn’t really focus on much other than dodging benches and people! Sometimes people dash off and then you’re stuck behind them as they start to walk but you can’t get round as the faster runners have started to come the other way. It’s a bit frustrating but sometimes helps me reign it in a bit.
As we turned around at the turn around point the field really starts to stretch out and you have that little bit more space. I looked over the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and thought how lucky we are to have that view to distract us and appreciate. I also thought, somewhere on that island they’re doing parkrun too! I definitely need to get myself over there to run the parkrun there.
I was soon too hot in my long sleeved running top and regretted wearing it. I rolled up my sleeves to try and cool down a bit but it didn’t really help! As the run progressed I slowly started picking off a few people. There were two women just ahead of me, who every time I approached them, would speed off before resorting to walking again until I caught them up again. At one point they hadn’t noticed me and when I overtook them they both instantly sprinted in to action haha. I hope I helped them achieve a good time!
As I was coming in to finish I had a sneaky look at my watch and thought I might just be able to beat my PB time. I finished in 37:51! I knocked 8 seconds off my Christmas Day PB which I was pleased about, especially after being ill.
I thought I’d compare my times again from the same week in 2018 vs 2019, just to show myself how much I’ve progressed really.
2018 – 45:20
2019 – 37:51
Does your local parkrun have something unique to offer?
On 30th January 2018 I went to the last Breakfast Club of 2018 with Honor. If you’ve not read a post of mine about the Breakfast Club before it’s basically a group of runners who run 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back at their own pace. Then you eat breakfast afterwards.
I’m not very good with the roads of Gosport, luckily Honor is! We took a meandering route that started along the prom, through the golf course and then off through the streets of Gosport to loop us back to the café where we start. When you look at the map it actually doesn’t look that meandering but half the time I had no clue where we were!
We chatted about our Christmases, parkrun and plans for the New Year double. The run started off really well and I was keeping up a good pace. It never feels like an hour of running at Breakfast Club as I’m so busy chatting. As we were on the return leg of the run I was telling Honor about the Davina DVD and not being able to lift my arms above my head. I then started feeling a bit odd. As we finished though I just put it down to running 4.8 miles, my longest run in a long time, and just needing breakfast and coffee. Had I have been feeling ok I’d have been tempted to round that 4.8 miles up to 5!
After I got home I still didn’t feel right so went for a hot bath to try and warm up and see if that’s what the problem was, but after not very long I had to get out as despite being in a red hot bath I was so uncomfortably cold and the water felt like it was making it worse!
Remember last year when I wrote my post: How Not To Start 2018 well the next few days panned out in exactly the same way. I don’t know what it was but I seemed to have some sort of virus that made me horribly ill, meaning once again, I missed the parkrun New Years Day double. I was absolutely gutted. I didn’t feel human again until 2nd January, just in time to go back to work on the 3rd! I have no idea what’s going wrong for me over Christmas that makes me ill for New Year! So strange! I’m determined not to get ill next year though. Two New Years ruined by illness is enough for me!
Have you had a special occasion ruined by illness?
On 29th December I ran the last parkrun of 2019. It was the first parkrun since Christmas and so I was going in to it filled with rubbish rather than filled with something that is going to fuel the run.
I ran on my own for this parkrun. As much as I enjoy a chatty run, I actually enjoyed running on my own for this one. It allows me to concentrate on my breathing. I find when I’m not concentrating my breathing is the first thing to go!
There’s not much of significance to note about this run. I plodded round. It was hard because of the Christmas food I’d consumed but when I finished I felt great and pleased I had managed to still get round in under 40 minutes and I’d managed to run all of it and not had to stop to walk.
We were nearly back at the café before I remembered to take my post parkrun selfie! Lucky I remembered haha
My finish time was 39:27 so I’m ending 2018 firmly in the 30’s now. Happy Days