Saturday, 4 February 2012

Aiming for under 30

Having PB’d with 29.37 on New Years Eve with the help of a fast and very competent runner, today I set out for my 23rd parkrun hoping to achieve 29.59. I had not run since my first 10km on New Years Day which I had really enjoyed as I had found someone there to run with.

This morning in the freezing cold - it was minus 1 - I desperately searched the crowd at the Norwich parkrun briefing for a woman whose name I know and whose parkrun times I had looked at, I was disappointed that I could not see her or her husband.

I made my way to the start line and set off - on my own. I started out fast and soon let my Garmin settle me into the pace I had in mind - an average of 5.59 minute kilometres which would get me a sub 30 minute parkrun time. As every runner overtook me, I looked at them to see if they were who I had wanted to run with. I tried to remember everything my pacer had said to me on New Years Eve, stride out on this lap, sort your breathing out here, take it easy here, push along there. Unfortunately I didn’t see the person I wanted to be running with, until halfway. Hooray, no more looking at my watch I actually had a pacer right there. I followed Lynda for half a lap and then had to resort back to my watch. I maintained my 5.59 however during the last half a mile I struggled to maintain the pace and kept dipping to 6.00. Each time I saw this on my watch I had to push on with my eyes fixed to my watch until it returned to 5.59. In the last few hundred metres I didn’t have much left to push so just ran, I didn’t even have a sprint finish in me! I forgot to stop my watch and when I remembered to I decided I must have just missed out on the time I had wanted.

My result arrived by text and to my delight I achieved 29.57. Wow. I had hated my run on my own but I had managed to pace myself a great time which I was really pleased with.

Happy 2nd Birthday Coventry parkrun!

It was the chile-est parkrun of the year so far at -7.5C, according to the temperature gauge in the car. I scraped the windscreen, started the engine and after releasing the handbrake didn't move forward an inch. Too cold for the brakes to work, norway that car was going anywhere! So a quick change of plan and I jumped on the bike round to my good friend Mr Slatford's house, which turned out to be a pretty decent 10-minute warm-up in the end. Arrived 5 minutes later than planned and after a quick czech realised the beard, sunglasses and headdress were all still intact. Phew.

Paul came to the door and we jogged up to the park together for a slightly-shorter than normal warm-up to allow for the late-running and pre-run awards ceremony. Not quite so many friendly waves and tooted horns on the way there as the Santa outfits had received a month or so earlier, but we still felt very pleased with our matching Arab costumes.

We arrived at the start line a good 20 minutes before 9am and met up with a few of the Coventry parkrun regulars. A few left-handed handshakes and twiddles of the beard later and the crowd was ready to be addressed. First up was the winner of the Women's Points Competition - Ruth Mahon. Many congratulations to Ruth for her efforts over the last 12 months. Great to see her getting into the spirit of 'Countries of the World' too with a Hawaiian grass skirt and flowery headpiece, neck piece and wristbands. Secondly, the winner of the Men's Points Competition - Andy Wilkinson (aka me). The presentations made and the cakes spread all over the table by the finish and we were ready to run.

Jason got us underway dead on 9 o'clock as usual. The resistance of the tunic meant there was not quite so much Arab spring in my step at the start but I still wanted to post a sub-20-minuter for the first run of the new points year. On completion of lap one in exactly 10 minutes, Paul and I decided to try and get a few seconds in the bag down the hill to the park main gates. Halfway around the second lap and we were only 20 seconds ahead of having to run at full speed to make our 20-minute target. A decision needed to be made. I lifted the pace slightly and quickly pulled a few yards ahead of Paul. I wanted him to come with me but I wanted the 19:xx finish time more. I crossed the line in a satisfactory 15th and 19:54. Time for some birthday cake.

One mini-roll, two shortbreads, two slices of birthday cake (with yummy icing), a mini-magnum and a pint of Mallory's Nesquik / For Goodness Shakes drink (to be confirmed) later meant there was no need for a bacon butty from the cafe this morning. Paul and I had another go at uploading the final results ahead of Jason's week off in 2 weeks' time. I think one more week next week with Jason on hand to answer any queries and we will have it sussed. Two hundred and thirty nine finishers today, a great turn-out for a great occasion. Many happy returns Coventry parkrun!

Norwich parkrun, First Timer

Hello and welcome to my first ever Blog and first ever parkrun, Saturday 4th February, cold and icy!! I only took up running in August and have been doing loads of 5 and 10K runs around the Thorpe St Andrew area and whilst away on business and you could say I'm hooked!! As far as organised runs are concerned I've only ever done two, the first was back in September when I did a 5K fun (I used that word loosely, back in September) run, which I struggled round in 35 minutes, but I did it and that's all that mattered to me as it was what got me started. My second was a New Years Day 10K which I completed in under 54 minutes and the rest they say is history...... So on to today, my first parkrun I heard about parkrun through twitter, where I have chatting with loads of like minded, Lycra wearing nutters who go out no matter the weather and pound the streets to get that fantastic feeling of well being (I can picture loads of you nodding your heads in agreement)and they suggested I get involved with parkrun on Saturday mornings at Eaton Park in Norwich, so I signed up, got my barcode, prepared last night by not drinking, eating sensible and getting plenty of sleep (maybe too much prep for a 5K, but hey, it was my first!), got up this morning, fuelled up with a banana and some porridge, slipped in to my Lycra (I say slipped, I'm mean squeezed) and off I went to take on the world!! When I got to Eaton Park, I started chatting with a guy who had been doing these for a while, so he talked me through what happens regarding where you start, where you finish, where you get briefed, and how the chipping and barcode system works, then he shot off to warm up (which for him was a full lap!!) for me it was just running about a bit, stretching and chatting with other like minded runners, some wearing SHORTS!! (it's minus 2!!), the whistle went and we all huddled close to hear (or in an attempt to get warm, you decide!) and clap the volunteers (top people!), off to the start line and waited in anticipation for the 3,2,1 off you go, where we all huddled for position and I shot off like Usain Bolt, far too fast, far too keen, far too many jelly beans!!! But it did mean I was at 2.5K in 11 mins 26 seconds!! I was never going to maintain that pace especially in the wintery conditions and I was right, but I did settle down and still had enough to power (I say power, I mean jog slightly quicker) past 5 other runners, to finish with a new PB of 24 mins 34 seconds and a pace of 4:55/K with is the first time I have been under 5 mins per K, so all in all a great time, great people and a great way to get 250/300 people running on a Saturday morning. This just left me to pop in to the park cafe and treat myself to a well earned Americano.......... I hope you enjoyed my first blog, if you did, let me know by checking me out on Twitter @iangolden (simples:)

Half Century Beckons...

Well here we go the countdown is well and truly on, I've just completed my 49th Parkrun, this morning my 24th at Durham the rest have been at Newcastle bar one which was a one off at Princes Park, Liverpool. Another chilly morning down at Maiden Castle and despite the lingering sciatica pain of the right leg, which is currently undergoing some fabulous work by my sports physio Ian " Buster" Gallagher and the addition of a freak injury of a cut lip, which was bleeding profusely after having cut it on the tin foil packaging whilst administering Ibuprofen tablets for aforementioned leg pain, yes it could only happen to me! Stripped to shorts and vest with Tiger Balm daubed on hamstring and Vaseline on lacerated lip, good job I got the application the correct way around or else it would have been hot lips for the rest of the day, I set off at my usual greyhound speed, no half measures with me, it's off from the start and hang on till the finish. Glancing at Graham Garmin at Km signs, hitting the frozen grassed part of the course hard, and the riverbank towpath and finishing home straight even harder, all under the watchful eye of magnificent Cathedral and Castle and regular Parkrun spectators including my sisiter Janet, I crossed the line in 25th position in a time 20:37 A quick ice bath followed by hot shower, then I analyse my performance over a six item breakfast in the wonderful Maiden Castle café Mmmm 20:37 not too bad all things considered, crazy weekly mileage, midweek blood donor session, ongoing runstreak (toady been day 1861) and of course the right leg and bottom lip ailments, yeah I'll take today's time & position! As always great craic from everyone, volunteers, runners and spectators alike in the confines of the cosy café and on checking my mobile phone I receive a Twitter tweet from Hartlepool United legend and current player/coach Ritchie Humphreys who due to the postponement of today's match at Bury I managed to cajole, encourage him to run Parkrun at Sheffield's Endcliffe Park. Ritchie said he enjoyed his first Parkrun and was eagerly awaiting his official time. On hearing that Ritchie had ran a Parkrun and enjoyed it on my suggestion gave me more satisfaction than my own personal effort this morning, however he needs to stick at it as he has a long way to go to catch me up, as the time ticks down to next week and my milestone of 50 Parkruns, I can not wait, bring it on!!


Before parkrun my most recent experience of volunteering was two weekends working for an organisation called Serious at the 2011 London Jazz Festival.  That showed me that commitment to doing a great job can be completely unrelated to money, and that volunteering can get you doing things that your paid employment never could.

My first parkrun at Greenwich as a runner left me with a really positive impression of the technology behind it all. Getting the bar code before the run, and seeing the results online and by email after the run were quick and easy. But of course that is not only down to great technology, it also depends on the work of volunteers.

As a first-time volunteer at my home run at Avery Hill Park Greenwich I felt some stress. If I made a mistake, could the efforts of all the runners go unrecorded?  Could runners doing lifetime personal bests hold me responsible for those pbs being forever unofficial?

My wife had wisely encouraged me to volunteer while it was still mild. But I delayed and on 14 January Greenwich had its second real frost of the year.  My task was handing out the numbers to runners after they crossed the finish line. Next to me was another Paul who was pressing number 1 on the timer box each time a runner came through. We kept warm cheering on the runners and complaining to each other – Paul about how cold that timer box was, and me about how fiddly those little number cards were with cold hands.

All went well and a couple of hours later, 85 runners’ results were displayed on the website. Well done Paul and all the Greenwich parkrun volunteers.

The next week I was volunteering again at the test event for the new Bexley parkrun which has its launch on 4 February. Perhaps more on that in a future post, but for now here are a few tweets I did from the event on @paulhruns:

Being unfaithful to Greenwich #parkrun. Sneaking off to Bexley parkrun test event. Meeting by Danson Park lake. Feeling guilty but excited.

Bexley #parkrun test run underway!

First runners past my marshal point at Bexley #parkrun test event.

Congratulations to Les Pullen on doing a #parkrun double today - @greenwchparkrun at 9am and then the Bexley test run at 10am. Impressive.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

parkrun Course Description: Roundhay parkrun

Posted on behalf of Richard Irvine (@richard_irvine on Twitter)

Roundhay is perhaps one of the most challenging but picturesque parkruns and takes in 3 laps around the central area of the park in front of the mansion.

It all begins with the obligatory 8:50 rendezvous at the Victorian shelter (bandstand) close to the mansion at the top end of Roundhay Park (North East Leeds), before walking 100m downhill to the start line. A few announcements later and we're off!

It's a slog from the outset, heading back up Carriage Drive towards the Mansion house. A left turn takes you along the main promenade in front of the mansion and visitor's centre for about 500m and almost to the Street Lane entrance. This stretch is relatively flat before another sharp left takes you down the slope (referred to as Hill60 although I have no idea why!) to the cricket pitch and then left again round in front of the pavilion. By this point you've just about caught your breath from the initial climb.

The path curves left, away from the cricket pitch and then turns to the right as it drops down once more to the children's playground, Lakeside Cafe and the corner of Waterloo Lake. If you're having a gentle stroll around the park, this is the place to be. However, on a Saturday at 9:05 for those 100+ runners this is the point where things get a bit tougher.

You've perhaps run just over 1km at this point before taking the final left hand turn to head back uphill towards the start.

Lap 1 is okay, lap 2 is harder and you just dig in for lap 3! It's always the 500m uphill stretch that hurts, and on the final lap you run through the start and continue back up to the bandstand at the top of Carriage Drive to the welcoming sight of the finish line.

It's a fantastic and scenic route that's now run for nearly a year and gathers new momentum each week.

Of course, as you've been so virtuous in leaping out of bed and into your running shoes early on a week-end morning, you can feel completely justified in dropping by the Roundhay Fox for a post-run breakfast.

Good run. Good company.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cannon Hill 28/01

After a very long week at work, I was quite excited about having managed to change my Saturday shift . This meant working 15 hour shift on Friday to enable the Parkrun to happen for me. I only managed nice easy 2x 5k during the week.

I found it so difficult to wake up on Saturday morning and realised finishing so late on the night before wasn't a genius idea. I proceeded with my stretches and a large coffee then off I went . One of my daughters, Nikita & Buzz (my Chi dog) accompanied me.

I arrived at the Park just as the briefing began. Immediately, I was a little disappointed with myself as I really wanted to get there early enough to warm up properly (my fault). Upon start up I meet a work colleague .. Oh dear. For some reason I was rather put off because I keep my Parkrun separate from work (it's my private zone). I felt as if work had followed me on my day off to the park; I guess you are thinking silly woman!!

Anyway, the whistle blew and off we went . The weather was icy and dry. The start went well, but by the end of the first mile I was slowing down. However, I remained the same pace for the next mile and half. My final half I did manage to step up my pace hoping I beat my personal best. And I did.. I beat my PB by 1 second .

How did I feel? Rather disappointed that I only managed my PB by 1 second. Reflecting back now, I am pleased even if it was a second

Lesson learnt : NOT to work double shift day before. To wake up earlier and warm up properly. To be grateful for participation and being part of my weekly Parkrun.

Results: 29.08
5th in my age category
57th lady out of 272 runners

Looking forward to this weeks run. Shall keep you posted.

Kind Regards, Kim

Happy New Year

This weekend marks Coventry Parkrun's second Birthday. As a relative newcomer I'm still getting to grips with the ins and outs of the whole parkrun thing - points and percentages?? At the start of the calendar year the Parkrun show asked what NY resolutions people were setting. I posted then but in view of a new year starting at Coventry I would like to affirm my goals for the new Parkrun year.

I aim to run 30 parkruns. Could that 50 shirt be realistic by this time next year? I have 7 runs under my belt so its one big commitment.
I will volunteer 3 times. First time is already on the rota.
I want to get my time into the 30 minutes. This is going to be the toughest. I am not a fast runner, but after another PB last week its feeling more achievable than a month ago.

Did anyone else set targets? How are they progressing after a month?

parkrun Course Description: Coventry

I suppose the clue is in the name, "parkrun". And being a run based in a park location I'm sure that most parkrun courses offer the more scenic views that our Towns and Cities have to offer.

I doubt that Coventry is the most beautiful, or the least, but Coventry parkrun is my home parkrun and I want to describe it for you in words and pictures, so that all parkrunners can get a better idea of what a parkrun tourist trip to War Memorial park in Coventry would have in store for you.

Firstly the logistics....There is a massive free car park within the park, adjacent to the course and only 500 metres from the start line. The car park is signposted as the "park and ride" for miles around. I can't see Coventry parkrun ever becoming too big for this car park.

The course is in a capital B shape, starting at the mid-point of the straight line and heading upwards, then doing both the humps of the B before completing the the lower half of the straight line. The B is only 2.5km long and is therefore run twice in the same direction.

The course starts alongside the building housing the main cafe and fairly close to the hardcourt tennis courts and childrens playground. Conveniently, the public conveniences are also located in this building and these are (now) always open before parkrun. The view from the start line:

The first 150 meters are flat and tree-lined, running alongside the crown-green bowls area, before decending downhill for the next 200 meters or so, again tree-lined, bearing slightly to the right half way down the slope. The view downhill:

After the downhill section there is a bit more of a right hand turn before heading uphill for another 200 metres or so, again tree-lined. Starting to get the picture? (yes, its tree-lined most of the way). The uphill section is not too steep, but the length of the hill can catch you out if you have started a little too quickly on the tempting downhill section.

Following the uphill section we have a curved 90 degree right-hand turn, then a further 10 metres uphill, before a steady gentle slope downwards for the next 300 metres or so.

There is another 90 degree turn to the right, slightly tighter then those before it, and then a narrower path with a couple of minor kinks, again slightly downhill for 150 metres, to complete the first kilometre.

The second kilometre starts with a steady uphill straight for 200 metres alongside the tennis courts. This returns you very close to the start finish area. There is a 90 degree left hand turn with a tricky steeper uphill section for the next 50 metres. This reaches the highest point on the course. Another 100 metres on and another 90 degree left hand turn takes you along a 300 metre long, gentle downhill, tree-lined section to the recently refurbished golf pavillion. For the first year or so of Coventry parkrun, this was the finish straight.

Beside the golf pavilion there is a 90 degree right-hand turn. A slight up and down stretch of another 150 metres and a further 90 degree right-hand turn brings you to the main car park. The car park section is about 200 metres long and is the only part of the course that is not lined with trees on both sides. At the end of the car park we have reached the 2km point (4.5km on the second lap).

We then take yet another 90 degree right-hand turn and head uphill for about 300 metres, to return to the highest point of the course.

We are then into the final 200 metres, 50m downhill and then 150 metres flat onto the start finish straight beside the cafe.

The good news is that you then have to do it all again!

The finish line is about 50 metres on from the start line, eye-balling at you at the start, tempting you at the end of the first lap and welcoming you home after the second lap.

I hope that this has helped give you a picture of the Coventry parkrun course. And if it has tempted you to take a parkrun tourist trip to Coventry then I hope to see you there someday.

Monday, 30 January 2012

St Peters parkrun, Sydney

As I write this I’m sitting on Virgin Australia flight DJ535 from Sydney to the Gold Coast a very happy little camper. Why? Yesterday we successfully launched St Peters parkrun, our fourth event in Australia and our first in Sydney. This is a real milestone for parkrun ‘down under’ and I am delighted with how smoothly it all went.

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia with an approximate population of 4.6 million people. As the site of the first British settlement in 1788 it is the historic capital, and today it is also Australia’s commercial and economic hub. As such Sydney needs a great parkrun, and we need Sydney to be considered a truly national organisation!

Yesterday’s launch had been a long time in the planning. I was first contacted by Event Director Paul Wilcock in April last year so, just like having a baby, it has taken 9 months from conception to birth. Initially we were planning the first Sydney event for Centennial Park however at Paul’s suggestion we decided upon Sydney Park located in the inner-west suburb of St Peters, sitting along the borders of Alexandria, Newtown and Erskineville. Formerly a brick works and a municipal waste tip, Sydney Park is 109 acres in area, which makes it the third largest park in inner-city Sydney and perfect for a 5km parkrun.

Ably assisted by Aaron Pidgeon, the former remedial massage therapist at Main Beach parkrun, Paul has been leading keen punters in Sydney Park for the last few months for ‘unofficial’ parkruns as a way of building momentum and gathering support from the local running community. Paul and Aaron did a fine job of this as the event had 137 registrations prior to the launch, not to mention well over 200 ‘likes’ on the ‘Sydney parkrun‘ Facebook page.

On launch morning itself the overcast weather threatened rain but ended up holding beautifully enabling the 64 runners who attended a perfect first St Peters parkrun event. Congratulations to Sato Ashida who came in first in 17:12 and is, for one week at least, the course record holder! I came in 7th place in 19:47, a pretty good time considering the ‘heartbreak hill’ we had to battle up mid-run!

So thanks to Paul, Aaron and the other volunteers who made 21 January, 2012 a special day for parkrun in Australia. Our next event launch will be Kirra parkrun on 18 February, our 2nd event on the Gold Coast. See you there!

Added on behalf of Tim Oberg, country manager for parkrun Australia.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Thoughts after running this weekend!

Over the last few years of running I have tried various ways of trying to distract myself from thinking of the miles while im running and just wondered if anyone else had encountered this?

What do I mean?! Well, when I first started running I used to use my ipod with a random collection of songs on so I could sing my way through my run. I found though that I knew most of the songs on my ipod and so knew when the end of the song was and how many minutes I would have been running by the time the song finished. I decided to ditch this and rely on my watch with a countdown of 10 minutes which would be roughly a mile of running. Then with my phone, I found an app which clocked the route I was running, the time etc etc etc and had a voice shouting out when I got to each mile (which could be changed to a different distance). I found in recent weeks though that the phone was getting heavy so I have invested in a gps watch which I have found to be very good. Not only is it light, it is giving me decent stats on my run which I'm finding a great help!

While running events and taking part in parkrun, I have seen people with a gps watch, headphones or neither. What do people find works for them?

In my parkrun at Brueton this weekend, (picture above) I finished in 82nd place in 27:28, it was my 15th parkrun and I enjoyed running with Rus who finished 1 place and 1 second ahead of me! (Jenni who was volunteering on registration thought that it might have helped if we had concentrated more on running than chatting as we went round the 1st lap!) I really enjoyed the sprint finish over the last 200m! We also had with us Peter who usually runs at Brockwell parkrun who finished 4th overall in training for his London Marathon in April