Things I did

I’ve been rubbish with posting lately despite doing a lot of events and things worth posting about. Instead of doing a “more things I didn’t blog about” post, here’s an actual “things I did” post.

20140531_064047Nottingham Triathlon

Well, so this was certainly my big event of the year so far, but prepare yourself for an absolute blogging anticlimax. It’s two weeks ago now and I loved the entire event – which was flawlessly organised – from start to finish. The travelling was stress free, thanks to a hire car, and with my start time of 0730am, the registration and setup was straightforward and quick. I missed most of the pre-run briefing because I was faffing about with strategically placing some warm clothing next to the finish due to not knowing when we would be allowed back in transition.

20140531_085710The swim was unproblematic thanks to my previous open-water training sessions and thanks to the floatatious wet-suit. I started near the back, kept out of trouble and thoroughly enjoyed swimming for more than a minute without having to turn. I can really see myself falling in love with open water swimming. Coming out of the water as one of the last T2 was nice and empty and I was able to “live out” my cold-water vertigo without fearing of bumping into someone else. After two minutes in transition I mounted the bike and joined the leaders on their second lap for my first lap of the four-lapped course (get it?). This was the most exhilarating moment of the race, those first minutes on the bike, still wet from the swim but finally on dry land and so much faster. This is where I knew that triathlon was for me!

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Finally, the 5K run – the discipline where I am at home – and I managed to bang out 23 minutes 12 seconds; a time that is good for a parkrun without all the swimming and cycling! Through the finish at 1:18:12 and 20 minutes later, belongings collected and wrapped up warm I stayed for the beginning of the second wave and realised how far back I actually must have been in the swim with my time – but didn’t care. Because I can now officially call myself a triathlete!

  • Swim 750m OW: 0:16:30
  • T1: 0:02:00
  • Bike 20k: 0:35:32
  • T2: 0:01:04
  • Run 5K: 0:23:12
  • TOTAL: 01:18:20

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Brueton parkrun

Different parkrun event number 18. Notoriously difficult to get to by public transport from where I live I found myself in luck and in possession of a hire car. A 25 minute drive away, Brueton parkrun in Solihull must be the poshest parkrun I’ve been to so far. They have a special baggage tent, scanning table funnels and – get this – a special electronic PA system for the clearest and loudest pre-run briefing ever! Storm and rain was forecasted and, although on wet ground, luckily the rain held off and with all of the run on tarmac the footing wasn’t bad either (apart from the occasional puddle).

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Hampstead Heath parkrun

Different parkrun event number 19 and my first ever in Greater London. Yes, I probably should have done Bushy but it was hot and I was down for the day so really wanted a place that offered a cold shower afterwards. Instead I found a cold pool in form of Hampstead Heath Lido. A hot and sweaty and very hilly parkrun followed by a cool and refreshing 45 minute swim in the unheated water was the perfect start to my weekend. Coming from Germany – where open air pools are probably more common than ordinary pools in the UK – I thoroughly missed swimming outside without a wetsuit and this was a welcome reminder of many childhood lido visits! Can’t believe they are not vastly more popular in the UK!

I’ve got one, maximum two, more parkrun days left in the West Midlands, so definitely need to go back to Coventry parkrun one more time and maybe take in Telford if time and mood allows!

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Things I did not blog about

  • The Massey Ferguson Easter 5 Mile Event where I ran a new PB of 36:47.
  • The Massey Ferguson May Bank Holiday 1 Mile where I completely underestimated the effort it takes to run a mile as fast as possible (three day DOMS from less than 10 minute running) but still achieved a time better than expected of 05:52.
  • The purchase of my wetsuit and my trisuit.
  • My first open water swim that ended with an eye inflammation and a visit to A&E.
  • My second open water swim that I thoroughly enjoyed and that confirmed my suspucion that I would indeed love swimming for more than 50m without having to turn.
  • My DNS at the Stratford Triathlon due to mentioned eye inflammation (blind cycle anyone?).
  • My pull-out of Falmouth Triathlon due to logistics.
  • My visit to Wolverhampton parkrun.
  • My realisation that I am quite underprepared for my first ever Triathlon in Nottingham in less than one week, but that I don’t really care because I had such an enjoyable open water swim today!

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Shrewsbury parkrun

20140419_083748So, when my alarm went off at 5:45am on parkrun day I wanted anything but get up in order traipse all across the West Midlands and Shropshire for Shrewsbury parkrun. I think the recent spurt in parkrun tourism has tired me out a bit and I definitely wanted some lie-ins. But then I would have the Bank Holiday as an extra lie-in day and I knew that I was going to do a local 5 mile race on the Easter Sunday. What’s more, I only have eight parkrun days left in the West Midlands and on my list are eight more events to visit before I leave. So I really HAD to go.

After a slightly irritating journey on Arriva Trains Wales where every single train announcement was followed be “thank you” (“The next station is Telford Central. Thank you” – Thank you for WHAT?) and a stroll along the river Severn I got to a fun fair and a slopey field with some people in high-viz vests at the top. I parked my running backpack including all my valuables behind a bush, knowing that this is just the start area and the finish is quite a bit away, and hoping that everyone with a mischievous attitude to life was still fast asleep on this (rather cold) Saturday morn.20140419_084111

Shrewsbury parkrun is held in The Quarry (park) which borders the river Severn on the (lower) end and borders the town on the (upper) end. The course consists of one small lap and 1.5 larger laps. The start is at the top of the hill and the first lap goes down to the river, along the river for about 300m and back up to the start. Second lap goes down to the river again then along the river for quite a long out-and-back and then up the hill again, round the finish in order to come down the river once more and then follow it for another 800m to the finish. Alas the start is quite a way away from the finish, but it is a net down-hill course. And it has an out-and-back which I love!

20140419_084933I was actually tired after my PB attempt last Saturday and a week spent doing lots of walking. The prospect of having a 5 mile race the next day did not add to speedy aspirations on this parkrun day. This meant of course, that – although I started carefully – I ended up going flat-out the last two miles or so. Responsibly for this irresponsible approach is the out-and-back. I love out-and-backs and I already said this in my Edinburgh Marathon report. I like running on the inside with everyone just whooshing past me the other way. It makes me speed up and feel very fast and the cheering and watching the oncoming runners distracts from my own pain as well.

I ended up with 23 and a half minutes or thereabouts; a time I was very happy with. I then had to sprint back to the top, collect my backpack and jog across town to the station in time to catch the 0947 back to the Middle Lands.

Another parkrun location ticked off. Thirty-one total runs now with sixteen different events visited.

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Hanley parkrun

20140412_084409Ramping up parkrun tourism, my alarm was all set for 5:15am in order to head up north on various trains in time for Hanley parkrun which is in Stoke-on-Trent. Hanley is pretty much the furthest I would travel on the day in order to do a parkrun (furthest as in: time it takes to get to on public transport). I saved these for summer, but as it is already warm and light early enough, my weekend was relatively free and I felt up for an adventure, I decided to slot it in early rather than leave all the far events till late.

20140412_083257I think it may have been the early start to the day and the early breakfast, but by the time I got to Hanley I was properly awake and in the mood for a good blast. So I set myself the target of running within one minute of my PB (and by that I mean up to one minute SLOWER than my PB). I didn’t feel like I was particularly early, but there were only about five people there at 8:45am. I stored my stuff (of which I had quite a bit to keep me busy on my train odyssey) within the bandstand. These bandstands really do double up well as a luggage store for parkrun – this was the second time I have seen them used for that purpose after Cannon Hill.

Hanley parkrun is quite a bit undulating, at least for Coventry standards. It consists of one small lap and two large laps and is entirely on tarmac. It has a sort of eight-shape as the course crosses over the Caldon Canal, which runs straight through the park. Imagine the number eight painted onto a ramp, the run starts in the middle of the number 8, heads around the top half (small lap), then another lap of the top half plus a lap of the bottom half (large lap) and then another lap of the top half plus a lap of the bottom half (second large lap). Obviously the top of the top lap is the highest point, the bottom of the bottom lap is the lowest part. The finish is in the centre. Or you know what? Just check out the course map (which looks nothing like an eight). Point is: There’s hills!

20140412_083644The initial number of five runners eventually sized up to about 130 runners who took to the start. I headed off mid-pack still with the plan of having a blast but without any plan of the course of the upcoming undulation and without any plan of my pace. Just run.

I enjoyed the run and was kept entertained by the various inclines and downhills as well as by crossing the bridge with runners coming in both directions various times. After about half-way my oxygen burners came on and I went into “angry mode” – characterised by the churning and crumpled face and generally evil look. Anger appears to be a new fuel for my running and, my God, it worked wonders. I came in half-dead but on position 21 and with a massive new 49-second PB of – and get this: without pacing – 21 minutes and 59 seconds.20140412_092853

Didn’t plan to run a PB. Didn’t plan to go sub-22. Had no idea of my pace during run. Had no idea of the course or elevation (which is definitely more than at Coventry where I had my previous PB). Still my fastest ever parkrun.¬†Didn’t even feel as bad as when I ran my last PB. Success all around! Definitely worth the trip up to Hanley!

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Kingsbury parkrun

Two weeks late, but hey…

For the first time I got a lift to a parkrun! Luckily it was Kingsbury as well – which is quite hard to get to by public transport (but not impossible!). Kingsbury Water parkrun is held Kingsbury Water Park and there is water there, as well as a park and a parkrun; I’m not sure about any kings and whether or not they are buried there.20140329_082919

We arrived early and took time to scout out the toilets as well as walk part of the course which runs next to and across a miniature railway (which luckily was not operating at the time or it could have been a significant obstacle to one or the other PB attempt!). Talking about PBs, Kingsbury Water parkrun is one lap and flat as it goes out on tarmac, circles around a large body of water on gravel and “forest” ground, and returns on tarmac. It was sunny and relatively dry, but due to the location next to lots of different lakes the course can easily be flooded.20140329_085119

I can’t really remember much about the run, apart from the fact that I went out slow the first half and stayed with my chauffeur and then took it out from half way. In hindsight this was a silly idea, because I was absolutely dying by the end of it – Not sure whether it was the sun or what.20140329_092617

Then I lost my laminated paper bar code (but luckily got it back later as one of the volunteers had picked it up) and then we got lost on the motorway. Oh, and then I lost one of my gloves in my chauffeur’s car (but got that back as well now). It must have been the sun.¬† 20140329_093647

 

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Canterbury parkrun

20140322_093023Slightly belated (one week) report of my tourism shenanigans down to Kent to Canterbury parkrun. Some of you longer-term readers may know that I first started doing parkruns in Kent with Whitstable in April 2011 (yes, I could have had my 100 T-shirt by know, but alas I am still on less than 30 runs). Also, I actually started run/walking in Canterbury on the very path that is now included in the Canterbury parkrun course.

I went down for the second running of the event the week after all the inaugural tourists have gone and just the small group of regulars-to-be remain. Having lived for a year during university just next to the course I knew it wouldn’t be an easy feast.20140322_084709

The course starts off going half-way round some football pitches and onto an out and back section which includes a valley, i.e. a total of two hills. Then around a smaller football pitch, the out and back again (hill #3 and #4), the small football pitch again, and finally around the pitches from the start but the other way around. The Sports Pavillion doubles up as the race HQ and wind shelter and has toilets and changing rooms (which are locked during the run).

All my respect goes to the brave couple who pushed a twin running buggy around the course! Canterbury was definitely the hardest course I have done so far – although maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised as it was my 13th different event.20140322_092851

There were quite a few students and young people, which is always nice to see on a Saturday morning and especially since that age group is underrepresented in the parkrun demographics. I hope Canterbury keeps growing and gets established as yet another parkrun in Kent! I went away with quite a respectable time of 24:14 and a definitely aching chest!

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Braunstone parkrun

So, for some reason my memory seems to have failed me this weekend. I went to Braunstone parkrun in Leicester yesterday and already cannot remember the majority of it! Here is a fragmented parkrun review with the bits I can remember:

  • Braunstone parkrun is held in Braunstone Park, which is a rather expansive, open park in a cone-shape with its highest point in the centre which holds the magnificent (now defunct) Braunstone Hall (pictured below)
  • The course consists of two laps starting and finishing at Braunstone Hall, thereby requiring runners to climb up Braunstone Hall twice (well, one-and-a-half times as the finish is half-way up the ascent)
  • It was quite windy(!)
  • I wanted to take it slow, but that only lasted until about a minute into the run I spotted the 25min pacer zooming past me (and also past the 30min pacer – go figure!)
  • The usual run-your-lungs-out mode commenced here and did not stop until after I crossed the finish line…
  • .. which I did after just under 24 minutes (I overtook the pacer at one point, cause too slow!)
  • There are no toilets unfortunately(!)
  • And that’s about all I can remember

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