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.

 

 

 

 

Goodwood Hill Climb 5 mile run

With Race to the Kings double marathon well and truly out of my legs now I’ve been looking around for some interesting Summer evening races.

The 53 second video above shows the iconic hill climb at the Goodwood motor racing circuit. I’ve now found out that there’s a 5 mile run that includes the hill on Monday August 7th at 7pm. This fits in perfectly, lets face it, I was sold as soon as they mentioned “hill” !! Naturally there may not be tens of thousands of fans cheering us on but it will be  a great night. The run isn’t on the race track but the grounds and the hill will be well worth the visit.

Organised by the Goodwood health club this annual event takes you through the glorious parkland of the estate and up the 1.2 mile hill with its 95 metre elevation. Winstons Wish (a charity for bereaved children) will benefit from the night and there’s also a food option if you wish to soak up the atmosphere even more.

£14 for a run along this historic route seems quite reasonable to me. We may not cover the 1.2 mile hill in 40 odd seconds but I’m looking forward to an evenings run with a difference. Come and join me ?? Click and Enter Here

Race to the King : 53.5 miles, 12 Hours & 1 Big smile

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Race to the King (RTTK) is a trail running challenge from Slindon to Winchester. The route was 53.5 miles along predominantly the South Downs Way (SDW), which also meant 5,200 feet of elevation. I think it’s fair to say that the longest day might have been last week but Saturday was certainly mine and everyone else’s. There are so many people and places that I’d like to mention so bear with me, get comfortable, and I’ll be begin.

My journey up to this point has involved a lot of preparation and planning but most of all the sheer enjoyment of trail running. It seems fitting that my trail running buddy Paul Coates and I are in the first photo because we’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting to the start line. At this point I’d like to thank Paul for all his help, everyone who has sponsored me for the Walking with the Wounded charity, £375, and all the good luck messages.

After a 4.45am alarm call myself, Paul, Dave, Lucy and Kate (all Fareham Crusaders) set off at 6am for Slindon. On arrival we had the first of our many positive impressions from the RTTK organisation. A huge marquee, lots of toilets and friendly staff welcoming us. This photo shows all of the above mentioned as well as Paul Southon but not Thom Dillon who was another Crusader I’d come across later.

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Also running today were our friends Phil and Teresa from Second Wind Running, a great local running outfit, I borrowed this next photo from them, so thanks for that. Phil was 30th overall (9.20) and first in his age category, Teresa was 4th in her category (10.40) fantastic times for two real “givers” to our local running community.

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Now, 53.5 miles and 9 hours 20 minutes I hear you cry, what did the winner run it in ?? Profeet‘s Jack Blackburn ran an amazing 7.13 !! (OMG) It was also great to have a chat with Perfect Pickles from twitter, sorry I can’t remember your first name as my brain isn’t working 100% yet !!

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Conditions were perfect for us with an overcast but humid day that would offer refreshing drizzle at times and thankfully no real sunshine to worry about. Hydration was clearly going to be a major part of the strategy so it was a huge relief that the weather was kind to us. I used two 500ml soft flasks and refilled them both at every aid station with electrolyte tablets.

I’m not that familiar with the first 8 miles or so but as we headed North for 3 miles and then looped around towards Gratton Beacon for another 5 miles all we seemed to be doing was going up !! Paul and I were running conservatively and when there was any doubt we walked, so as to save energy for later. The first feed station was at 7.9 miles and we were treated to portaloos, numerous snack options, plenty of water and a rousing welcome. Buoyed by the prospect of this being the case for the remaining aid stations we headed off with an extra spring in our stride.

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By 10 miles we’d crossed the A285 and my recollections from the South Downs marathon of 2 years ago meant I knew where we were and this also meant 43 miles of course knowledge to come (yes we’d done our homework !!) This also meant a long gradual hill through the crops that came flooding back to me !! Our pace was “steady” as we ran along the top of the Downs making sure to keep an eye on the chalk and loose gravel that characterises this area. I didn’t take many photos because I was concentrating on the matter at hand and ultimately there’s lots in my training blogs.

We chatted to out fellow runners on our way and as we started the descent towards the A285, and Cocking, we knew the second aid station and the long tarmac road that climbs back up to the Downs was approaching. What we didn’t expect was our friend Cat Underwood, she greeted us with her usual enthusiasm !! Hugs were exchanged and off we set. Thanks Cat ….. you’re a star 🙂

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The route out of the feed station meant a long gradual walk, after all we still had 38 miles to go. Our “steady start” strategy was working well but I did get the sense Paul was holding back. By the time we reached the Monkton estate and tree cover we’d had more drizzle but again it was refreshing so no jackets were needed. The 20 mile alarm on my garmin was a pleasant surprise because I’d hardly looked at it and that was after nearly four hours 🙂 I remember thinking “my god” four hours, a third of the way potentially.

Around this point we unexpectedly ran up Beacon Hill (the first one to avoid confusion) we’ve never run up this because it’s quite technical coming down the other side. As feedback for next year I think this was a mistake because with 20 miles in your legs they can run away with you and sure enough I fell over. Luckily it was my pride and a graze on my elbow but I don’t imagine I was the only one who fell. By now Paul was disappearing into the distance but I figured the 3rd aid station wasn’t far away at 23.4 miles. Harting Down was next and then we headed South towards base camp and half way.

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Once again we were greeted with help and cheer, I decided to eat a plate of pasta, bread and rice which took about ten minutes, I’d briefly seen Paul but he was keen to crack on and I wished him well. So, every now and then as runners we have a “moment”, it dawned on me that there were still 29 miles to go but in a funny way running on my own meant I was more in control, I smiled with that thought in mind and said to myself “this is where the run really begins”.

The next 6 or so miles took us through narrow lanes skirting around Butser and then as I ran through QECP there it was, the highest point on the SDW. I marched up Butser trying not to let it beat me and then I had an inspired moment, why not text a few people seeing as I was walking. This worked really well because it took my mind off the gradient and also updated my loved ones that I’d managed 30 miles.

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As the top of Butser Hill I had another hug from Cat and she said Paul was at least ten minutes ahead. Feed station 4 was a significant one because along with the oranges, melon, water and snacks was the thought that the miles between them would now get shorter 🙂 Previously it had been roughly every 8 miles, it was now 6 to Old Winchester Hill (OWH).

Both my legs and feet were bearing up well at this point and my concentration was aimed at trying to keep my average pace under 13 minute miles. The scenery is amazing along the South Downs and it all seemed quite unreal when I looked at my watch and saw 8 hours on it. The furthest I’ve run is 36 miles so it was new and exciting territory.

After leaving the OWH feed station I caught up Thom Dillion from our club, we had a chat, wished each other well and I pressed on down the hill which has lots of tree roots so care was needed. Joining the old railway line briefly I was starting to feel a couple of my toes were sore after the downhill section and my left thigh was tightening. I rubbed deep heat on my thigh and even though this meant stopping it did mean I had 3 other runners to tackle Beacon Hill for company (the second one 🙂 ) We walked a good proportion of it but chatting really helped, not that my spirits were low but just for some variety.

Reaching the trig point at 42 miles was a massive relief because that was the last big hill and I knew the remaining trail well.

I got quite emotional when my watch said 43 miles because that meant I was down to single figures. We’d worked out before hand that 13.5 minute miles were needed for a 12 hour finish. I was at about 10 hours now and still surprisingly bobbling along even if slowly. As long as I was running it kept my goal in sight.

The last aid station was at 46 miles and Cheesefoot Head was approaching. This was significant because it was a gradual climb but at 50 miles you see Winchester for the first time.

When my 50 mile alarm went off I have to admit a tear came to my eye, it was all downhill or flat now and even with some stomach issues and some walking due to that, I knew I could savour the moment because I was going too finish. The bridge over the motorway said 1 mile to go, the streets of Winchester were fantastic to see after hours of quite trails. I knew the road around Winchester Cathedral and as I ran my last100 metres to the finish, there it was, the Cathedral and the finish line.

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Those 3 steps were taken with care and it was all done. What does 53.5 miles feel like ???

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This photo from pic2go sums it up !! Thanks for the photos 🙂

It’s only when you stop that you realise what you have achieved.

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219th out of 581 (some would have been walkers) I decided to let myself off the 6 minutes and 18 seconds that I was over my target 🙂 I felt fantastic, proud and shattered.

DSC00485The great medal was then followed by the realisation I had to walk about a mile to the train station !! I missed the 8.19 so had to wait for the 9.19 but to be honest sitting down for 50 odd minutes was lovely. The train took me to Fareham and another 10 minute walk but this probably did my legs a favour. I was becoming aware of toe pains but three small blisters were an acceptable price to pay.

We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world and having The South Downs Way only 12 miles away means we can enjoy running parts of todays 53 miles again in the future.

Well done to Paul (10.59), a great time, as well as all the other Fareham Crusader runners and everyone that was brave enough to enter. Thanks to all my twitter and ukrunchat friends for their messages and support too. If you haven’t discovered trail running yet, give it a go, it’s beautiful.

Thanks to “Race to the King” and everyone that has supported me in my quest to achieve a double marathon.

In short, you can achieve so much, if you just “believe”.

January 2019 Update

I’ve entered RTTK 2019 June 22nd …. can’t wait !!

Many thanks …. Roger