Running 5k the Parkrun way

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Five kilometres / 5,000 meters / 3.1 miles, however you look at it this distance will now forever be associated with parkrun .

Fareham’s Cams Hall estate had a cold and crisp feeling to it but when combined with the Autumn sunshine and the waters edge track, it makes for a great location.

With 342 people eagerly awaiting the standard nine a.m. start I observed the multi-coloured assembly of people in their running/walking attire. I pondered what do these weekly events mean to people.

To Mo Farah it’s a 13 minute romp, however, with the average Fareham parkrun time being 30.20 this shows what an all inclusive fitness phenomenon parkrun has become and ………… it’s free !!

Now, it’s worth saying at this point that I’ve only done 16 parkruns, however, I’ve been running for thirty years and I can honestly say the fact that no one has a race number pinned to their chest “really” does make a huge difference. Taking away the pressurised feel of a race means you can run/walk or jog at its purest form. You are running for you, whatever your goals are.

An unbelievable 1,803,378 people had participated in parkrun ahead of this Saturday, that’s in the UK – not Fareham !! 🙂

 

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What also makes parkrun unique is the army of volunteers and the core teams within this. Setting up, marshalling, token sorting, result publishing and packing up … it all takes time, effort and dedication. These volunteers are the ultimate reason for parkruns success.

I bumped into numerous local club runners, some who I see on the trails and some who I haven’t seen for ages. There were people from work and complete family groups who’s kids I’d never met before.

The course quickly skirts Fareham creek and runs parallel with the golf course. Another enjoyable feature is that it’s an out and back route so you get the chance to say hello or well done to potentially every single person taking part !! The track is fairly narrow so be warned as the fast boys come back towards you at quite a rate 🙂

After the initial rush of blood I found my pace and eased off slightly. Three miles need pacing just the same as a marathon !! Set off too fast and you’ll regret it. As we passed the boats bobbing up and down in the creek my first mile was 7.55 and I had Martin and Debbie that I know as markers ahead.

The pace meant my lungs were certainly being worked harder than normal and as I passed Alison marshalling at half way I knew I’d need to maintain this effort. The motivation of numerous shout outs, given and received, can’t be underestimated and even though the second mile dipped a little I geared myself up for the final push. In the end I was just outside my pace but regardless of this I had a big smile on my face.

I generally run my marathons at a 9/10/11 minute pace so a time of 25.06 was quite pleasing (8 minute miles) and so was my 85th position. Talking with Dave and Amy that I know, below, we all agreed Fareham is a great location and the 9 a.m. start sets you up for a productive day.

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So, in summary, to all my running readers we know parkrun is a great community event and its worth making time to pop along more often, I know I will.

Secondly, to the wider blogging community if you’ve heard about parkrun but haven’t ventured along ….. as a famous clothes manufacturer says #justdoit !! The benefits aren’t just physical, there’s a whole new community waiting to welcome you.

Find a parkrun near you with this map UK events

Thanks for reading

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IOW Marathon

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The weather forecast for the Isle of Wight marathon promised wind and heavy rain but as it turned out fortune favoured the brave with the warnings only being accurate up to an hour before the start – thank goodness for that !!

Ryde Harriers were hosting the 62nd running of this event which promised an undulating course (1,450 feet) as you can see from the graphic above. The route combined quiet country lanes, a section of old railway track, occasional sea views and some busier roads.

My marathon running buddy Paul Coates and I had chosen this race for its location and we weren’t disappointed.

We drove to Southampton, with both the windscreen wipes and our imaginations working overtime as to what lay ahead.

iow1Boarding the Red Jet high speed catamaran bound for West Cowes the view out of the window felt more like a car wash than a ferry !! The £17 return for the 25 minutes each way meant our international experience was about to start #ferry #sailing #abroad !!

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Once on firm ground we jumped on a bus that took us up the hill heading out of Cowes to the IOW Community Club which had changing rooms, a variety of facilities and lots of like minded people.

iow3With three quarters of an hour left before the 11.30am start the rain (which had been forecast until 1pm) had virtually stopped. Gathered on the start line there was a noticeable sense of relief that the elements had been kind to us !!

Now, with no idea where we were running I’ll try my best to describe the 4 & 3/4 hours I was out on the course.

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Paul, is much quicker than me so, after some banter and video with his GoPro he headed off in front of me after about 2.5 miles, just as the rain reappeared.

After 4 miles of a steady 9/10 minute pace I developed a curious tightness in my “right buttock” !!! (expect the unexpected on a marathon)

Stopping to stretch wasn’t a problem and in the scheme of things I only wasted a couple of minutes even with three short loosening up attempts. If anything it was more embarrassing at such an early stage of the race.

All sorted, errrr “no” – ha ha, next my big toe started rubbing, only a mile later !! So, it was off with my trainer and a quick inspection. By mile 6, with hardly any swearing at all, (kind of), I was back into my pace and running happy….. Quite a buzz.

What I’d like to mention here is how enthusiastic the marshals, locals and the Harriers on their push bikes and in their cars were. Motivational comments are always welcome in a marathon 🙂

I passed a signpost to the West Wight Alpacas farm near Wellow and then one advertising Alpaca Jumpers, you don’t see that every day. Glorious sea views appeared at about mile 9 as we were on the outskirts of Yarmouth then next, as I headed back inland, I was surprised to be guided off road at about 11 miles. This turned out to be the old Yarmouth railway line and a brief let up from the tarmac.

The railway station has been converted into a restaurant and it was full of supporters, “again”.

Half way was marked with the 4th feed station, fresh oranges and flat coke … “spot on”. I was on course for about 4.40 at this stage but was aware of the 300 feet elevation between miles 22 and 25 as well as the numerous smaller hills we’d already negotiated. Location wise we weren’t that far from the Needles but heading back up towards Cowes.

The weather was cloudy by now and the temperature was starting to drop but I benefiting from the steady early pace. I overtook a few runners between 15 and 21 miles and started using the sponges that were on offer between the feed stations.

Time wise I was around 10.20 mile pace and revelling in the IOW peace and quiet, apart from the vintage buses that rattled by occasionally. To be fair I was largely on automatic pilot for an hour or so and that’s exactly what I enjoy. The tap tap of your trainers, the mile markers passing you by and the knowledge that you are “reasonably” in control.

As promised the three miles between 22 and 25 heading towards Northwood were quite challenging, but I do like a good hill. Using a run walk strategy when needed, again I overtook a couple of runners. Sometimes not knowing a course can be a benefit because you simply manage what’s around the next corner and you aren’t planning ahead at all.

It’s definitely worth a slow jog on hills rather than the easier option of walking, straight away. I read a phrase the other week that applied to those last miles, “There’s comfort in your discomfort” and that’s very much the case when you know you only have a parkrun’s distance left.

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As I crossed the finish line in 4.42 I was pleased with my run and were I am in my training. Completing a training run marathon was very satisfying. Your run is just that, your run, it doesn’t always have to be about speed !!

Paul had finished earlier in 4.06 which is testament to the athlete that he is considering he ran 3 marathons over last weekend in Cornwall. As the ferry docked we were asked to disembark and thanked for travelling with Red Funnel.

I felt a bit light headed on the trip back home because it dawned on me I hadn’t eaten since breakfast time and according to my watch I’d burned 3,812 calories. Thankfully I knew a large chicken roast dinner was waiting for me at home.

Thanks again to Ryde Harriers and Paul for a great day out. The Isle of White is certainly worth a visit whether as a tourist or a runner.

 

 

 

 

Running Awards : Best Blog

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I’m pleased to say my blog has been nominated for the Best Personal Blog in the Running Awards competition. If you enjoy reading my blog and you’d consider voting then follow the link and navigate to the Blog listings that are in alphabetical order.

Click here……     Voting Link

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You do have to log in and create an account but this is simply to stop anyone voting numerous times for themselves !!

Thank you for reading and hopefully thanks for voting 🙂

I promise I won’t endlessly remind you all !!

Regards Roger

Don’t Quit

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Have you lost your running mojo, are you finding training tough, have you considered dropping out of a race ??? – read on ……………

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, when the funds are low and the debts are high, and you want to smile, but you have to sigh, when care is pressing you down a bit- rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns, as every one of us sometimes learns, and many a fellow turns about when he might have won had he stuck it out. Don’t give up though the pace seems slow – you may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man; often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victor’s cup; and he learned too late when the night came down, how close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out – the silver tint in the clouds of doubt, and you never can tell how close you are, it might be near when it seems afar; so stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – it’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Running is a metaphor for life, you only get out what you put in, so don’t quit.

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Forest Bathing

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I do enjoy a forest run but today I tried something completely different, Forest Bathing !! I saw an article by the Forestry Commission which really struck a cord with me, so I headed off to soak up some bathing (no towels are required) 🙂

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese art of forest bathing – taking in the forest atmosphere and connecting with all your senses.

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My journey started with this wooden bridge that lead me into the dabble sunlight of the trees. From my trail running I know a number of routes through these woods, some quite densely forested and some more widely planted.

Today I didn’t need to concentrate on tree roots, branches and other potential hazards I really could simply absorb what was there right in front of me. In many ways the trees are competing for the sunlight and at the same time they all seem to fit into an orderly pattern.

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With spare time on my hands I had no time restrictions but equally with this being new to me I wasn’t quite sure how long I’d be.

The trees spend their lives growing ever taller in an effort to reach that golden sun in the sky, the birds have their continuous search for food and the seasons shape how the forest looks.

I sat on one of these conveniently places logs and quite simply just tried taking in what was around me. The occasional dragon fly, a bird flapping high up in the leaves and the swishing of the ferns were the only obvious noises.

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It’s almost October but the warm sun meant I only needed my t shirt. Our modern lifestyles don’t often allow us to just stop and stare, to breath in the woody air and feel the breeze on your arms.

One of the gnarled tree trunks had insects scurrying in and out and the branches move almost like they’ve waved at me. Don’t worry, I haven’t been drinking, I’m not on any illegal products, I’m just bathing in the forest even though we’re miles from the sea !!

It’s great to be able to step out of your Monday to Friday work and just connect with nature.

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Moving on towards the less densely planted forest the individual trees really stand out. They almost have their own personalities, some stand tall like a soldier, some lean at an angle almost as if they’re about to uproot and find another spot in the woods.

Standing at the base of a tree and looking straight up, as I did with my first photo, really gives you a sense of the trees age, the winters it has endured and the ground that it has dominated for many years.

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Three quarters of an hour later I was back at my car and feeling considerably more at one with myself.

The sights and feel of the forest will change as the new season approaches. I look forward to returning in a month or two for the Autumnal browns, gold and orange as well as the colder air.

#getoutside ……….. go Forest Bathing !!

National Get Outside Day Sept 30th

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To quote those enthusiastic people from Ordnance Survey (OS) Leisure …… On 30 September 2018, they want you to get active outdoors. Join in with a National or Regional event near you, or create your own adventure outside with family and friends.

For more information, just follow this LINK

I’ve long been a convert to the Great British countryside, it’s out there just waiting for you …. take in the fresh air, the scenery, the sights and sounds and you’ll be hooked, just like me 🙂

 

 

Goodwood Marathon

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Goodwood motor racing circuit was the venue for my first race in three months. OK, I realise that 26.2 miles of tarmac don’t exactly amount to off road but the location is only 35 minutes away and the track is such an iconic venue.

This initial photo is my favourite from the day. The historic Goodwood start/finish straight, Stig (possibly not the real Stig), Paul from Fareham Crusaders and Gosport road runners Steve, Catherine, Claire, Lisa, Katrina and Hayley.

With numerous other RunThrough uk races scheduled for the day our marathon started at 9am in pleasant conditions. The pre race warm up set the tone for a light hearted day running within a fairly small field, but a very supportive one.

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This photo from the warm up shows my friend Hayley adopting the New Zealand hakka, me clinging onto an imaginary bar above my head (for what ever reason) and Paul (the Brad Pitt lookalike) talking on his imaginary phone to his imaginary PR agent 🙂 Yes we were all raring to get started !!

Before the off there was just time for mine and Paul’s trademark photo with the motor racing pits behind us.

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The prospect of 11 laps might have put some people off, however, I was keen to use it as a good mental test. I spotted local blogger Anna who eventually placed as first lady in 3.26 and radio/running personality Vassos Alexander who finished in 3.22, the checked flag dropped and we were off.

Each lap of the track was about 2.4 miles and it varied with some gradual inclines and declines as well as the wind direction blowing across, in front and behind you. What I hadn’t considered previously was that there’s an aerodrome in the middle of the track !!

A good thirty or so light aircraft and helicopters were parked up with quite frequent arrivals and departures. I have to say the first time a plane landed above our heads it was quite amusing and quite close !!

With 11 laps there was only the need for one feed station but I was impressed with the number of marshals around the course who offered continued support on every lap. RunThrough had placed speakers to play uplifting music and then totally out of the blue two gentlemen in Mexican attire, complete with guitar and trumpet, added to our entertainment.

With there being a number of races held through the day we were regularly lapped or saw runners coming towards us. This did break up the day and it was great to see Andy Paton from Liss Runners charging along on his 10K.

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There were various motivational signs around Goodwood, with one that read “keep to the racing line” which I wasn’t totally sure was for us but again it made you think as we ran the twists and turns of the track.

I chatted with Hayley on my first lap and then later with Claire and Joanne. The support from the grandstand was a real boost but for the remainder of the time it was largely “you and your thoughts”.

One of the joys of running for me is to completely switch off and simply observe what’s around you. The South Downs in the distance, the aircraft and even the wind on your face or the sun on your back. Running is definitely my mindfulness.

Pace wise I stayed around ten minute miles but drifted slightly once past 20 miles. The mile markers were dotted around the track in reverse order which personally I wasn’t sure about but it did motivate me when it said 5,4,3,2,1 miles left !!

Both Paul and Hayley were a lap ahead of me and Anna must have lapped me twice but I only remember seeing her once 🙂 #oldage !!

I have to say I walked a few times on lap eleven due to a lack of training but with the marshals encouragement, the sight of the finish line and the ever supportive Gosport ladies, this was enough to carry me home in 4.42 which ultimately was a fair time for the day.

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Yes, I do look quite knackered but I achieved what I came for i.e. to get back on track and Goodwood was certainly a great place to do it.

One thought for the future …. the water came in the form of endless single use plastic bottles. It seemed such a waste with piles of them, some only half empty, scattered around the course. Naturally that also meant they needed picking up as well as going against the single use of plastic that’s becoming more frowned upon #savetheplanet.

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I liked this board …..”You will never win, if you never begin” it might not have been a quick time compared to the Berlin world record but I think all of us that entered should be proud of completing what is still the benchmark of distance running.

Thanks to RunThrough uk for a well organised day in a great location and an impressive t-shirt and medal.

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Happy Running everyone …………. thanks for reading and see you at the Isle of White marathon in four weeks.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meon Valley Trail training

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Over the last month I’ve been using the Meon Valley Trail for my training. In its basic format the trail is a ten mile stretch of disused railway line that starts in Wickham and heads north to West Meon.

The trains may be long gone but this local gem has been resurfaced and now provides access for runners, cyclists, walkers, horse riders etc etc. The tree lined track gives shade from the sun but at the same time creates dappled sunshine markings ahead of you.

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Numerous bridges break up the essentially straight pathway and you are constantly reminded that you’re in the countryside with the birds in the trees, the occasional squirrel and sights of the surrounding fields.

You really can switch off as your miles tick by because with the exception of only a couple of road crossings the horizon in front of you is one long tunnel of green.

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Seven miles into the trail you’ll come across the South Downs Way signs to Exton and Eastbourne in their West and East direction. You pass old sidings that have laid asleep for decades as well as a privately owned station at Soberton.

Whats at the end of the trail I hear you ask ??? The remains of the West Meon station and a car park.

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All in all if you are in the Southampton / Winchester area I’d recommend it as a great route to run. There’s a gradual incline as you head North but naturally you benefit from this on your return.

Whether you are starting out on your running journey with a couple of miles or you use it as I’ve been doing for marathon training, the Meon Valley Trail offers something for everyone.

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For lots more information just follow this link MVT

Happy Running !!!

10 miles & an Air Traffic Control Tower #history

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I only had 90 minutes to play with today so I decided to take in an historic sight which has now been modernised. I do enjoy exploring the past, taking in the surrounding area and imagining what was taking place years ago. One such place locally to me is the Solent airport.

The airport was previously HMS Daedalus and the vast expanse of land is gradually being developed with new businesses, potential housing and an engineering college.

What I was really interested in was the runway that RAF planes had used in WW2 and the iconic control tower which would have masterminded all the comings and goings of British and other nationalities aircraft. In fact on June 6th D Day, 435 sorties were flown, the most by far of any UK airfield.

The recently modernised control tower also now has a café and they have done an excellent job of charting the airfields history and significance. If you are local you’ll need to approach the CEMAST college turn off and then turn left along the perimeter fence, past the new driving test centre and businesses.

Image-12 The helicopter straight ahead was an impressive sight but the boards that commemorated the sites history were even better.

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Image-15I’ve run past the outer perimeter fencing numerous times so now that the site has been opened up commercially it made a great detour but still meant I could gauge my ten mile run. My mile splits were all pretty even so I’m looking forward to pushing up the mileage.

Two cyclists were just arriving as I turned back on my return leg and with the café being open seven days a week as well as it having patio benches outside, a small slice of history can be taken in along with a slice of cake !!

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My aim for today was 10 miles at a steady 9 minute per mile pace which I was spot on. Its good to appreciate what the RAF and many others did for our country in desperate times. You could almost imagine the spitfires taking off.

Running isn’t always about pace and time, it can be about discovery and appreciation too. Thanks for reading 🙂