Archive | Running RSS feed for this section

Tilgate parkrun with parkrun ambassadors

21 Jan Tilgate parkrun

OMG! What an amazing but completely exhausting day yesterday was. It started at about 2am when M decided it was time for a party. I tried to encourage her to ‘lie down and cuddle mummy’, but somehow that was interpreted as ‘why not use Mummy’s bed as a trampoline?’ so we ended up going downstairs until about 4:30am. I was so grateful when she went back to sleep, but was not happy when the alarm went off just after 6am!

I rushed around sorting out my porridge, getting dressed and repacking everything into a larger rucksack and had just got it all sorted when Malcolm, Jill and Gil arrived to pick me up. We were heading off to Tilgate parkrun for a parkrun Ambassadors meet up… which made me feel slightly guilty as I was abandoning Stu with M to Run Direct at Southampton. Last week Southampton had a record-breaking attendance of over 1000 runners and as Eastleigh was cancelled, I was worried that Stu would have to deal with huge numbers on his own. (Fortunately, the rain meant ‘only’ 960 runners were at Southampton.

volunteering at Southampton parkrun

It was then a nice drive to Tilgate. I have to admit that the route to the park was through a number of housing estates, so I mistakenly thought we would be in a small, modern park with a bit of play equipment and no distinguishing features, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Tilgate parkrun

We parked in a large car park and saw someone wearing running kit, so Malcolm checked that we were going in the right direction for the start. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time, so we didn’t have much of a warm up and there was no time for a ‘comfort break’, which I really needed. I also realised that we had a chaotic day yesterday and this morning’s early start, I have failed to use my preventer inhaler for two days in a row (I’m usually very good with it) and I had left my reliever inhaler in my bag in the boot of the car.

We climbed some steps out of the car park and I was surprised to see a wide path running around a large lake and woodland on the other three sides.

At the start we met some fellow parkrun ambassadors, including Dave. Tilgate has around 500 runners, so they have now implemented a split start. Runners who expect to finish within 21-27 minutes go to one side and everyone else goes to the other. The mid group of runners ‘takes the high road’ and the rest of us took the path on the level of the lake. After a short distance of about 200 metres the paths converged, but it made it a safer start for everyone.

It’s a picturesque route that goes around the lake, then does a loop of the park before doing another loop of the lake.

I was disheartened to realise that I was behind the 30 minute pacer at about 800m/1k, but then I realised that our average pace was 5:30/km, so he was either going too quickly or was pacing according to the terrain as just after 1km there was a relatively steep hill.

I’m not running well at the moment and with my lack of sleep and asthma, I found the run really tough. I saw the 28-minute pacer and assumed that I would be able to leave him behind, but it was not to be.

I battled on and tried to appreciate the beautiful scenery, before hauling myself over the line in 27:40. I’m definitely going to have to get on top of my diet, my asthma, my sleep and my training if I’m to achieve a Half Marathon PB this year.

Tilbury parkrun

After the run, we headed over to the golf centre where there was a café. There weren’t many people there, so we worried that we had gone to the wrong location, but before too long we were joined by a throng of parkrun ambassadors (is that the right collective noun?)

I had enough time to chat with a few people and to meet Kerri, the amazing SE parkrun ambassador coordinator, but I had to miss the main part of the session, which was a shame.

Jill was kind enough to drop me off at Crawley Station so that I could embark on the second part of the day’s adventure…

Did you parkrun yesterday?

A fortnight of exercising

19 Jan Running track

After the Reading Half Marathon workshop, I was determined to start my training for this year’s races. I still need to sort out a proper half marathon training schedule, but at least I’m making a move in the right direction.

I’ve been out running with Sarah for the past two Wednesdays. We did just over 5km the first week and 6.5km this week. I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable again, but I definitely need to start doing some speedwork.

Running track

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

I’ve also been out running with Rachel and Felix, then on Saturday I took part in Southampton parkrun, so I ran three times in a week for the first time in a long time. I found parkrun really challenging, partly because of my fitness levels, but also because it was so busy. I had M in her buggy, so it was really hard for me to pass slower runners. I started off with Inez who was doing her 100th parkrun, but I couldn’t run alongside her, so I slowed down a bit. Then Linda and her baby caught up with me, so we had a lovely chatty run. There are a lot of stressful things going on for me at the moment, so I’m really enjoying the chance to clear my head either by running on my own or by chatting to friends whilst running. I also loved seeing Tuba Libres at parkrun, there to celebrate Laura’s 250th parkrun.

Southampton parkrun Jan 13 2018

Of course the other big challenge that I’m training for is Swimathon. I’m so excited to be an ambassador again this year – check out my profile. Last week I swam with Stuart on Monday. My arms were aching in the first few hundred metres, but  kept going and managed 1000m. I would have swum more, but I didn’t have enough time. Then this week, I swam on Tuesday and did 1200m. I’m determined to keep building up my strength, speed and distance until I’m back to comfortably doing 2km in an hour… by which  stage I should be ready to start my proper training programme.

Swimmers doing front crawl during Swimathon

Swimmers doing front crawl during Swimathon

I’ve been cycling to work (as usual), but I don’t have any cycling challenges at the moment, which is probably just as well as I’m still getting to grips with balancing work, training and family life.

I’ve also been doing a lot of gardening as it’s finally a bit drier. I spent 2.5 hours raking my garden two weeks ago and last week I spent another 2.5 hours raking. I would have continued with the theme, but there’s no room left in my garden waste bin and it’s wet and cold here. Hopefully, I’ll manage to do some more gardening next week.

Have you got a detailed training schedule for this year?

 

 

Training day for Reading Half Marathon

13 Jan Reading Half training day run

Last Saturday morning, I missed another parkrun… but for good reason. I was off to Reading to take part in a training day in preparation for Reading Half Marathon. I wondered whether I’d be able to fit in a parkrun as there is one nearby, but unfortunately, it was cancelled on Saturday, so I didn’t need to worry about being late to the training day.

I arrived fairly early, so there was plenty of time to meet others who were a mix of newbies, experienced runners and bloggers. I ended up sitting next to Anna, the fab blogger behind Anna The Apple. I also met Tess from The Fit Bits and Katie & Kate from These Girls Do.

Whilst we were waiting for others to arrive we saw a montage of images from previous races. My favourite images were ones of a group of friends who had dressed up as Mario Cart characters. I’ve never properly done a race in fancy dress – I ran a parkrun in a Minions outfit, but I was wearing a running t-shirt and shorts, so I don’t think that really counts. Have you ever raced in fancy dress?

The first activity of the day was a workout with Francesca and Chloe, the Townsend Twins.

The workout was high energy and the twins were so much fun. I also loved their outfits and had to do a bit of online stalking to find out where there leggings were from (Bellum Active – starlight leggings)… if anyone has a bit of spare cash and wants to buy me a present for my birthday next month…

I’ve really not done enough exercise in the last few months, so I was a bit nervous about the workout, but it turned out to be a lot of fun (although I was seriously stiff on Sunday AND Monday!) The music was great and the Townsend Twins explained everything really well. If I learnt anything that I could take into my own fitness career, it was that smiling and being enthusiastic is really important… and that I need to duplicate myself so that one of us can talk and the other can demonstrate!

We did a good mix of exercises, including skaters, squats, jump squats and walking lunges.

We then had a quick refreshment break (water, lucozade and bananas).

 

It was then straight into a pacing workshop with Ali Galbraith, who leads the pacers at a number of events, including Reading Half. I’ve taken notes on all of Ali’s talk as I found it really helpful…

Good training runs lead to great pacing days:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Try to not move the goal posts
  • Practice your pace in training runs
  • You will have good days and bad days – roll with the punches
  • See long training runs as mini race days

I’m really bad at accepting that runs don’t always go to plan. I rarely cut runs short and I never do more than my plan says, so maybe I need to be more flexible.

The necessities of a great pacer

  • Good quality watch
  • Gear you can trust
  • Solid knowledge of the race
  • The ability to adapt

I’ve now got a fantastic watch and I’ll probably wear my favourite black shorts. I need to check out the route of Reading Half as I think it’s changed since I last ran it.

Pre-race preparation

  • Fuel intake – what shall I eat and drink?
  • Route planning
  • Race planning – what will I need?
  • Weather preparation

This was one of my favourite parts of Ali’s talk. When I last ran Reading Half, I tried to fuel up with a vanilla Gu, but it was too thick and my friend threw it in the gutter because she thought I was taking too long and I didn’t have time to waste. Ali said that when he is running he uses Ella’s Kitchen baby food pouches (with Spaghetti Bolognese being a favourite) and Mars bars. I don’t think I could eat something that requires that much chewing when I’m running!

The perfect race morning

  • Review your pre race preparation
  • Get to the race village nice and early
  • Warm up properly using that time to visualise the race
  • Get to your starting pen with plenty of time
  • Never lose a smile

I don’t like being stressed on race day, but I have to admit that even though I arrive early I don’t always do a proper warm up.

Race break down

  • Why break down a race?
  • How I break down a race:
    • Miles 1-3
    • Miles 3-11
    • Miles 11-13.1

Breaking down a race into segments is a good mental strategy – it’s something that I do already.

Miles 1-3

  • Holding back the adrenaline
  • Don’t weave
  • Be prepared for a slower pace
  • Just concentrate on you and getting to mile 3
  • Treat it similar to your warm up in training runs

Last time I ran this race, I definitely wasted time and energy by weaving around people. This time I aim to get myself into the right start pen to and take off at a steady pace. Starting too fast is one of my worst habits. At Gosport Half a few years back, I challenged myself not to look at my watch for the first three miles. I didn’t quite manage it, but it was helpful as it stopped me getting into a panic about going too fast or too slow.

Miles 3-11

  • Ask yourself some questions:
    • How am I feeling?
    • What is my fuel intake?
    • Do I need to slow down?
  • Join a group and interact
  • Settle into your race pace
  • Be prepared for things to get tough

I definitely think that running with others who are going at your pace helps. When I got my half marathon PB, I ran with a friend. We were both running faster than we had ever managed before, but we stuck with each other, which gave us both a mental boost.

Miles 11-13.1

  • Break down into bitesize pieces
  • If you’re looking for a PB, now is the time to start pushing the pace
  • Mental toughness is key in these final miles
  • Treat it as the party bus home

This bit always begins at mile 10 for me as then I repeat my mantra: “parkrun to go!”

After Ali’s talk there was time for a Q&A session before we went out for a warm up and a  5km run.

After a few stretches, we split into two groups. The faster group were going to go at 9-9:30 minute miles. I thought that should be OK as I can usually run parkrun at that pace with a buggy. However, I’ve really not run much since before Christmas, so I found it really hard going… also we started at a slightly quicker pace. I definitely think I needed to start more slowly and build up.

© Anna Smith-James

© Anna Smith-James

My stretch goal for Reading Half is 1:49:59, but I would be happy with anything under 1:52:19. At the moment, I think I’d be amazed if I could finish in under 2 hours, but I know that I was able to make a lot of progress in a short period of time last year, so as long as I’m focused, I should get there.

After another short refreshment break, it was on to the physio and injury prevention workshop, led by Jim Adkins from Berkshire Physiotherapy.

This was another interactive session with a combination of questions, answers, information and activity.

We learned how to warm up properly to help avoid injuries. We did lots of calf stretches, before we did some equipment work.

A common misconception is that running is a cheap sport as there is very little that is required. However, when you speak to someone who has become addicted to running they will explain that they have spent a fortune on the right shoes, socks, clothes, sports watch, other gadgets, nutrition and race entry fees. They may also have spent money on items such as foam rollers, massage balls and resistance bands. Jim introduced us to an innovative piece of equipment that I’ve never tried before…

A paper plate!

The aim of the paper plates was to place one under each foot and then do a bridge and slide your feet in and out. It’s much harder than it sounds and really works your core.

The most interesting stretch that I learnt was the ‘slump stretch’. I tried it out with my work colleagues who’ve renamed it as the bored sulky teenager stretch. It involved sitting on a firm surface with room to swing my legs. I had to slump my lumbar spine (chin to chest) and place my hands behind my back, before swinging alternate legs with my foot flexed. This exercise should ‘floss’ your sciatic nerve, which can help to relieve hamstring tightness.

Overall, this was such a helpful day that has made me feel ready to start tackling my training plan.

If you haven’t already signed up for Reading Half, why not enter now?

If you want to treat yourself, there’s a VIP package, which includes a range of ‘extras’.

There’s also the chance to enter the January competition if you sign up before January 31st.

Returning to my favourite (and fastest) ever race

5 Jan Reading Half training morning
I am so excited to have been selected as a Blogger Ambassador for Reading Half Marathon. The race takes place on Sunday 18th March, 2018. 
I first ran Reading Half in 2012 and was thrilled to achieve a PB of nearly 25 minutes, finishing the race in 1:52:19. I’m fairly confident that I could have smashed that time last year, but my training has suffered, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this year. I absolutely loved running Reading Half in 2012, but I’ve never returned as I’ve been afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I still don’t really know how I did so well in 2012 – I sometimes wonder whether it was down to the bottle of Lucozade that I drank before the start of the race!
Reading Half 2012

With team-mates from Lordshill Road Runners after Reading Half Marathon 2012

Some of the things that I enjoyed about the race were the enthusiastic crowds who turned out to support the runners, the music along the course and the finish inside the Madejski Stadium. I also enjoyed running with my training partner, Irene.
After being ill over Christmas, I’ve not been running as much as usual at all, so I’m keen to get back to training. Tomorrow, I’m attending a Training Morning in Reading.
Reading Half training morning
    The morning will start with a workout led by the Townsend Twins, who will also be leading the warm up on race day. I’m still thinking about studying to become a Personal Trainer, so I’ll be seeing whether I can pick up any tips as well as having some fun!
    Next up will be a seminar on pace management led by Ali Galbraithe. I’ve run as a pacer for several events, and it’s a role that I’ve enjoyed, but it’s much easier to run at a consistent pace when you’re within your comfort zone. I’ll be keen to learn how to improve my pacing and maybe even how to go for that elusive negative split.
    After a group run, Berkshire Physio will be leading a cool down and giving an injury prevention talk. I’ve been neglecting my stretches recently, so this might push me into taking more care of myself.
    Overall, I’m so excited about this opportunity. I’ll do my best to take loads of photos and will be reporting back on what I’ve learnt.

     Have you thought about signing up for Reading Half? There’s a competition to win some great kit for anyone who enters during January, so what are you waiting for?!

    I managed a sprint tri in the space of a week

    13 Nov Fitness instructor course materials

    I really thought that I was going to get back into a routine of work, training and blogging with M starting nursery… but three weeks in and her attendance is 25% 😦 The poor thing has picked up every illness going and shared it with the household, so I’ve not had a lot of free time.

    One thing I have been doing is getting out on my bike. I’m really enjoying my cycle commute – I had forgotten how much I love my quick trip to work, although it’s definitely more challenging with a trailer – and the logistics of adding it on and removing it have taken a bit of getting used to.

    I’ve got back to doing a bit of swimming, starting off with a lunchtime swimming session with Liz and then a week later, I did a 1 hour swim set on my own. I really need to plan my swimming sessions more carefully (and ideally swim more than once a week). Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to swim at the weekend as Stu and I are planning to take M to the pool on Sundays. It would be good to also schedule a midweek swim session.

    Last week we went to Southampton parkrun, where I had a steady run. I spoke to a few people on the way around and was pleased that my time wasn’t terrible.

    parkrun 04 Nov 2017

    This week it was my turn to run with the buggy, so I joined Rachel, Phil and Felix. We started off at a slow pace because of the congestion, but definitely picked it up by the end of the run. I’m not as fit as I was, so it felt really difficult.

    parkrun results 11 Nov 2017

    I love the chance to talk to so many friends at parkrun. I had a quick catch up with my friend, Teri, and we agreed that we need to schedule in some social runs. We discussed perhaps going for a run on Sunday morning, but I decided to have a lie in instead. It was the right decision as I felt shattered.

    On Saturday afternoon, we drove down to Bournemouth to go to the Primera Cycle Expo at the BIC. I’ve been a couple of times before and have picked up some real bargains. This time, there was a lot of Sugoi kit for sale at bargain prices (£5 per cycle jersey and £10 for shorts!)… but everything was in enormous sizes, which was disappointing. Maybe we needed to go earlier in the day. After checking out the reduced kit, Stu, M and I walked around and had a look at the bikes. I still really like the look of Kuota bikes and the paintwork on some of the Specialized bikes was gorgeous… but what really caught my eye were the adorable Cannondale Lefty balance bikes. A sales assistant kindly got out an Allen key and put the saddle down so that M could have a go. She is still a tiny bit short, but I think by Easter, it may be possible for her to have a balance bike. (However, I can’t afford to fork out £200, so it’s more likely to be a bike from Decathlon than a new Cannondale!)

    Cannondale Lefty balance bike

    One of the most exciting parts of my weekend was visiting Bournemouth University to pick up some course materials. Next weekend, I  take the first step on a new career path (although I love my job as a learning designer and can’t see me quitting that any time soon!) I’m going to be doing a course to become a Fitness Instructor, so I’ve been busy studying anatomy and physiology in preparation for the course. It’s a bit challenging as I haven’t studied any biology since the age of 13, but I’m really motivated and excited to be learning.

    Fitness instructor course materials

    On Sunday afternoon, Reena and Mike came over to collect the Mountain Buggy running buggy that we took to Australia. I hope they enjoy running with it as much as we did. Like me, Reena has a place in London Landmarks Half.

    Afterwards, we went and watched some of the cyclocross at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre. I had planned to watch the event a year ago, but ended up back in hospital that afternoon instead, so I was pleased that I got to see some of the action as well as meeting friends.

    In the evening, I read that there will be a new route for Southampton 10k, half marathon and marathon in 2018, which sounds exciting. I loved running the marathon this year, but I think I’ll drop back to the half in 2018 as I’ll be running a marathon in July and don’t want to have to sustain the training for that long.

    Hopefully, things will settle down a bit for me in the new few weeks and I’ll be able to get into the swing of regular swimming, cycling and running with a yoga class thrown in for good measure. It’s not going to be easy fitting in blogging and studying, but I’m sure I’ll find a way!


    Because of baby M’s illness, I’ve not been online much this week, so I was late to visit Rafflecopter to draw the winners of Haseeb Ahmad’s book From Blind Man to Ironman – apologies! The lucky winners who will each receive a copy of the book are:

    Sarah Wakely

    Michelle Dorrington

    Congratulations, ladies! The books will be in the post to you very soon 🙂

     

    Illness stops play

    29 Oct London Landmarks Half

    My plan for last weekend was to go swimming on Sunday, but M was unwell, so we cancelled that plan and went for a long walk instead. She was ill all week and I also had a cold, which changed my plans.

    I cycled to work on Monday and Thursday, which was good, but I didn’t manage to fit in any other running or swimming during the week.

    On Saturday, Stuart, M, my mum and I all went to parkrun. It was my turn to run with M, so we decided to run with my mum. My mum has been really unwell recently and has not been able to do her usual exercise, so she found the run harder than usual. I was really impressed that her final time was within a couple of minutes of her PB.

    Southampton parkrun 28 Oct 17

    Today, we went out for a long walk, which helped me rack up a good number of steps (almost 15 000).

    Hopefully, M will have a ore successful start at nursery this week and I’ll be able to start my new exercise programme. I’m planning to swim with Liz tomorrow and to run with Sarah later in the week before putting in a couple of hours of training on Friday.

    I had a reminder that the London Landmarks Half is now only 5 months away. I’ve not planned how to get there or anything yet, so that might be a task for the next week.

    London Landmarks Half


    Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

    Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

    Running with a buggy Q&A

    25 Oct Eastleigh 10k

    I’m regularly asked questions about running with a buggy (and other issues relating to being a running mum), so I thought I’d share some of my insights and some useful links in a single post…

    parkrun 14 Oct 17

    Do I need a special buggy?

    It’s recommended that you only run with a buggy that is designed for running. There are a number of different brands available at different price points and you can also pick them up second-hand. The most popular ones that are available in the UK seem to be Out N About Nipper Sport, Thule Glide and Bugaboo Runner, but you can also buy running buggies by Mountain Buggy and BOB… and Thule Chariots can be used as running buggies (if you buy the conversion kit).

    There are a number of specialist sales groups on Facebook where you can find a second-hand running buggy, including:

     

    How do you deal with punctures?

    Baby M is nearly a year old and her buggy had its first puncture recently. I wasn’t with her at the time, but Stu dealt with the puncture in the same way that he would on a bike – he replaced the inner tube. It is possible to fix the puncture with a patch, but they’re not always reliable.

    Some people choose to slime their tyres, but I’ve never done that on a bike and am capable of dealing with a puncture, so don’t intend to go down that route. If you aren’t confident that you can replace an inner tube then it might be the right option for you. Essentially, if your inner tube gets pierced, the slime covers the hole and solidifies, so you don’t need to replace the tube.

     

    I’m not a runner, how can I keep fit?

    You might want to try Couch to 5k, which is available as podcasts or an app. It is a sensible way of building your running up to 5k (3.1 miles). If it’s been a long time since you’ve exercised, you might want to start off by walking and gradually increase the amount of time or number of times you walk each week.

    You might also find a Buggyfit class in your area. There isn’t one in Southampton, but I attended ParkLives Buggy Mums classes, which are similar, whilst I was on maternity leave. If you’re in Hampshire, there’s also BuggyWorkout in the Winchester area and a Buggy Workout class at Fleming Park in Eastleigh.

     

    Are there any online support groups that I can join?

    There are several Facebook groups for buggy runners:

    (There are plenty of other local groups, such as East Midlands, Hereford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Fairway, Brighton and Hove, Poplar, Somerset, Rissington)

     

    Can I take part in any races/events?

    There is some confusion about what the UKA (UK Athletics rules) state about whether buggies can be used in races, and it seems to be left to each Race Director to make their own judgement.

    I’ve found that the best place to look for races is Buggy Friendly Running Events (UK) – a closed Facebook group. You might also want to look at parkrun – buggy and wheelchair friendly courses – a public Facebook group.

     

    I’m breastfeeding – is it OK for me to run?

    The evidence seems to suggest that there are no detrimental effects relating to breastfeeding and running, but plenty of benefits. (https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/lifestyle/mom-exercise/ ).

    It’s not always easy to find a sports bra that’s suitable for nursing… and to find one that doesn’t break the bank is almost an impossibility. A lot of people like Brooks/Moving Comfort – Juno, but that’s quite expensive and only available in a limited range of sizes. A similar bra that is available in a much wider range of sizes at a lower price point is SYROKAN Women’s High Impact Full Cup Wire Free Lightly Padded Gym Run Sports Bra.

    Have you run with a buggy? Do you have any tips that you can share?


    Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

    Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

    parkrun Challenges

    24 Oct

    I love attending parkrun every week, so I’ve decided to set myself a number of parkrun related challenges for the next year. Most of them are teeny tiny goals, but I thought they might add some fun.

    parkrun volunteer

    • Achieve my 250 club (17 parkruns to go)
    • Qualify for a cow cowl (I need to do 1 more UK parkrun) Cow cowl
    • Do an international parkrun (this might not happen)
    • Get an overall PB (<23:40)
    • Achieve PBs in 5 locations
    • Do all of the parkruns in Cornwall (Trelissick and the new Eden Project ones to go)
    • Do all of the parkruns in Hampshire (7 to go)
      • Alice Holt – done
      • Andover – done
      • Basingstoke – done
      • Brockenhurst – done
      • Eastleigh – done
      • Fareham – done
      • Havant
      • Lee-on-the-Solent – done
      • Lymington Woodside
      • Medina I.O.W
      • Netley Abbey – done
      • Portsmouth Lakeside
      • Queen Elizabeth
      • Rushmoor
      • Southampton – done
      • Southsea
      • Whiteley – done
      • Winchester – done
    • Do other near-by parkruns:
      • Blandford
      • Moors Valley
      • Poole
      • Salisbury
      • Upton House
      • Weymouth
    • Encourage 3 friends to do a parkrun
    • Support my mum to get a parkrun PB

    Do you do parkrun? What’s your next parkrun goal?


    Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

    Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

    First run after returning to work

    21 Oct Southampton parkrun 21 Oct 17

    It’s hard to believe that my maternity leave is over and that I’m back at work. I’m now working a compressed week (8-6pm, Monday-Thursday), which means that I’ll still have some free time during daylight hours when I’ll be able to cycle/run. I’m also intending to make use of my lunch breaks to do some training – especially as my colleague, Sarah, will be training for London marathon.

    We kick-started our training by going for a lunchtime run on Thursday. I can’t say it was a speedy run as we’re both a bit out of practice, but it was good to have a run and a chat.

    Today, despite the dire weather warnings about Storm Brian, Southampton parkrun went ahead, so I was able to take a step closer to my 250th parkrun.

    Southampton parkrun 21 Oct 17

    I’m feeling so unfit at the moment that my result wasn’t too bad, but I hope that I can get myself back to a 25:XX time in the near future.

    Tomorrow, a lot of my friends will be taking part in the Great South Run. Today’s events relating to GSR have been cancelled, so I hope the weather is kinder tomorrow. I’ll be getting wet whatever the weather as Stu and I are going to take Baby M swimming!

    Are you racing this weekend?

     


    Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

    Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

    parkrunning Down Under

    18 Oct

    As soon as we had booked our flights to Australia, I got online to check out where the nearest parkruns were. I found that there was a parkrun at Gosling Creek in Orange, just a couple of miles away from where my brother lives and that just two weeks before we were due to arrive a new parkrun was starting in North Wollongong, which is near to where my sister lives. Sadly, there are no parkruns in Hong Kong (yet – see this page where someone is trying to set one up), so we knew we’d have to miss one run whilst away.

    The first parkrun that Stuart and I did was run #3 at North Wollongong parkrun. It seems as though there has been some disagreement with the local council about parking, so the start of this run has changed from being in Wollongong to being at Fairy Meadow, which is a shame as there are no facilities there, whereas there are lots of cafes and coffee shops in Wollongong.

    It is an out and back course, starting in a small park before heading off on a sandy path. It’s an interesting route with a little uphill, a board walk section and a section on grass. It is picturesque and not too busy. Also, it starts at 8am, which is earlier in the UK, but not as early as parkruns in Queensland which usually start at 7am!

    Near the start of North Wollongong parkrun

    The original plan had been for Stuart to run with M in her ‘new’ running buggy, but my sister and her husband decided not to run, so M was able to wait with them whilst Stu and I ran.

    Nearing the turnaround point

    I always perceive Australia to be a very sporty country, so I was surprised at how few competitive runners were taking part – more people were jog/walking with quite a few children. I think it’s great that it’s such an inclusive event. It might be because the weather was quite warm, which made the conditions challenging – maybe the speedier runners are out earlier?

    North Wollongong parkrun

    The lack of lots of super speedy people meant that I came 11/121 females and was 3/15 in my age group.

    My next Australian parkrun was Orange parkrun. This is a much more established event that takes place at a nature reserve called Gosling Creek.

    The Run Director did a nice briefing and there were quite a few tourists at the event – I’m guessing that some of them were in Orange because of the mine, rather than just as sight-seers. We got a huge round of applause for having come from the UK, possibly because Orange is off the tourist trail, although there are some lovely wineries in the region.

    This time, M was joining us in her running buggy, so Stu agreed to push M and to run with me. Neither of us is on form, but even with a running buggy, Stuart is much faster than I am, so it was quite a challenge.

    Again, this parkrun was a nice mix of surfaces. It is a looping course with some reasonably steep inclines that are fairly short. There are sections on grass, trail and board walk and the scenery is lovely.

    The Run Director welcomed each runner back individually and then took a photo of the three of us. As you can see, M was exhausted by her early morning exertions!

    Orange parkrun

    My time was relatively slow for me, so I was pleased to find that I was 7/76 females and 1/5 in my age group!

    Our final parkrun was again at North Wollongong on our final morning in Australia. M had not slept well, (she’d spent a lot of the night screaming) so I really appreciated Bryony and Jonno getting up early to take us.

    M stayed at the beach with her Uncle and Aunt and Stu had a foot niggle, so he agreed to run with me. I realised at the start that I had failed to bring my inhaler with me. That was a bad move as the path was very dusty and it made breathing extra hard. I also didn’t have a drink with me.

    Second parkrun at North Wollongong

    I couldn’t remember how long my previous run had taken me, so I decided that I would aim to finish in the top 20 females. I set off towards the start and when we got towards the turning point, we saw the fastest runners on their way back. I started counting the female runners and could see that I was in the top 20, but that I would need to keep pushing to retain that position.

    2nd parkrun at North Wollongong

    I was really pleased to finish 15/107 females and 2/17 in my age group. I also achieved a PB for this course.

    Overall, I really enjoyed being a parkrun tourist in Australia. There are so many interesting courses and I’ve never been to a parkrun event that wasn’t friendly. I’ve now done 3 international parkruns, but am still stuck on 19 different UK events, so maybe that’s something I need to do more of next year.

    Which is your favourite parkrun and why?


    Fat Girl to Ironman has been nominated for the 2018 Running Awards. I would be really grateful if you would vote for me. Thank you 🙂

     

    Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.