Olympic inspiration

Hello again! Oh dear, it’s been rather a long time since I last posted. I haven’t quite got over the reluctance to run I reported in my last post, but you’ll be pleased to know I am getting there. Since I last wrote in mid-July, I’ve been on a grand total of 7 runs, none of them very fast, and none more than 10k…

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Evidence that I have been running, exhibit A! Arrow Valley parkrun #IAmTeamGB © Nick Haynes

But in the last two or three weeks I’ve definitely got some of my mojo back after being super-inspired by the amazing Team GB athletes at the Rio Olympics! My hubby Tom and I watch a lot of sport on TV anyway, whether it’s rugby, football, cricket, or more recently cycling – but we were absolutely addicted to watching the Olympics, so much so that when we finally had to admit defeat and go to bed, we still set an alarm for stupid o’clock in the morning to watch Usain Bolt and Mo Farah run their gold medal races!

IMAG0285My Olympics highlight was definitely the track cycling. Tom’s been pretty into watching the major classic road races on TV for the past couple of years, so in the lead-up to the Olympics we watched the Tour de France highlights pretty much every night, but track cycling is a completely different kettle of fish. At the start of the Olympic events I had almost no clue what was going on, but I think I’ve got a handle on it now (sort of), and boy is it exciting! I thought I might have a heart attack during Laura Trott’s Omnium points race! What a woman (#girlcrush)!

Runners in red, white and blue for the #IAmTeamGB sports day at Arrow Valley parkrun © Karl Hanks

Runners in red, white and blue for the #IAmTeamGB sports day at Arrow Valley parkrun © Karl Hanks

Sadly, I don’t have a bike (yet…watch this space!) so there was the slight problem of a lack of suitable vehicle to give output to the awesome inspiration provided by the Olympic cycling! Nevertheless, I have managed to get off my bum for a few runs recently, including yesterday’s “I Am Team GB” themed parkrun, and I even played a game of badminton for the first time since school! Well, when I say “played”, I mean Becky and I played two against one with Tom (who still won). Never mind – I got sweaty and ached like mad the next day so I must have had a pretty good workout! I’m definitely keen to play again!

Another exciting sporting development is that I have started to learn how to swim! I mean, I *can* already swim, and actually I can swim quite far when I want to, I just don’t swim very well. I had operations on my ears when I was a kid, which meant that when we had swimming lessons at school I wasn’t allowed to put my head underwater. As an adult I’ve kind of taught myself to do “head under” breast stroke, rather than the “head up” granny stroke, but whenever I’ve had a go at freestyle I end up whirling my arms around and kicking my legs like a mad thing and get absolutely knackered after a length or two.

So, me, my friend Ruth and a couple of her friends Sharon and Helen, who are also running folks, had a lesson last Monday with a triathlon coach called Mark. We spent 20 minutes or so on dry land, learning the correct arm technique for front crawl, then about half an hour in the pool to practice what we’d learned. We used a ‘pull buoy’ – a float that you put between your legs so we  could just focus on the arms.  I definitely feel that I made progress in that one session, so I went to the pool again on Wednesday to try it all out, and again this morning with Ruth and Helen. I still have some work to do on technique but this morning I managed quite a few lengths without the pull buoy so, er, triathlon here I come?! (Once I’ve got a bike…)

Finally, sorry about the lack of sweaty selfies – I lost my phone recently (boo) and the old phone I’ve been using in the meantime has a really naff camera. I’m getting a new phone after the bank holiday and it has quite a whizzy camera apparently, so you’ll soon be able to see my sweaty face again, lucky people!

Here we go again…

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Me and my brother-in-law Howard completed the Two Castles 10Km run on 12th June

So I haven’t been running much recently, which you might have guessed if you’re a regular reader of this blog! I have no excuses – no injuries, no major life events…I’ve just been quite lazy! After the marathon in May, I suddenly had no reason to get up and go for a run…so I didn’t!

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Post-run on 1st June

I have done a few runs…just not many. Since I last posted in on 28th May, I did a short-ish run with the Run Alcester gang, and then the Two Castles 10km race on the 12th June with my brother-in-law. That went pretty well, despite the fact that I totally wasn’t up for it, and it absolutely hammered it down with rain, but I was pleased with my time of just over 56 minutes – not a 10km PB but it is a course PB by quite a way, and it’s a pretty hilly course too.

But since the 12th June…nothing. And I have continued to eat as if I was still training for a marathon! So when I pulled on my netball kit the other day and found it a bit of a squeeze to fit in my skirt, I realised it was time to get running again!

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Arrow Valley parkrun 16th July

I did my first parkrun in quite a while last Saturday, which – as always – was great fun, and made me regret every time I’ve ever stayed in bed on a Saturday morning! It happened to be Arrow Valley parkrun’s 4th birthday, so as well as a huge field of 395 runners (!!!), many of them in fancy dress (including some bonkers people in onesies on a really hot, muggy day – and one guy dressed as a tree?!?), we ran the usual two-lap course backwards, which made a nice change!

Inspired to start making running a part of my schedule again, I got in touch with Becky, who has been out injured for a while, and we made plans to resurrect our previously-regular Tuesday night runs. So that’s what we did tonight – only we hadn’t bargained on it being the hottest day of the year so far – over 30ºC, even after 7pm, phew!! Still, we did it, a hot and sweaty, no pressure 4 miles, and we’re already talking about entering the Birmingham Half Marathon  and the Tempo 10K Winter Series. We’re back!

Parkrun #35 – not quite a PB but close!

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Look at me all happy because I thought I’d got a PB…!

I woke up unusually early for a Saturday and was wide awake, so I decided to lace up my trainers and go to parkrun for the first time since Christmas (well, as a runner – I’ve volunteered a couple of times since then)!

As I’ve been training for the marathon my average pace has got quite slow, so my target for the next few weeks, before my next 10k race in June, is to try and get quicker again. I’d forgotten it was the last Saturday of the month, which at Arrow Valley parkrun means it’s Pacer Week – perfect!

I lined up behind the 26 minute pacer, which was rather optimistic I thought, since my PB (or so I remembered!) was 26:36. Nevertheless, off we went and although she got a bit ahead of me I managed to keep her in sight. Turns out she was doing too good a job as I crossed the finish line (by my watch) in 25:50!! Hurrah! No parkruns for months and I pulled a PB out of the bag! Or so I thought…

A few hours later my phone beeped with the all-important official parkrun time. “Lisa, your time in position 126 today at Arrow Valley parkrun was 25:54. Well done…service powered by aql”

Grr, 4 seconds slower than my watch…ok…but hang on, where was the “Well done on a new PB” bit?

I scrolled back through my messages and to my surprise, I found one from almost a year ago to the day congratulating me on a PB of 25:48. Oooops!! Must’ve forgotten about that one!! Oh well, I got PBs on 3 out of 4 Strava segments, so I’ll have to be content with that for now!

https://www.strava.com/activities/590539454/embed/11a02a09d84904bd6d8a21244e39b1653318c7b1

MTR#25: 6.5 miles with Run Alcester

2016-04-13 21.05.09It may or may not be anything to do with the two pints of cider that I consumed post-run this evening, but today has been one of those days where I am so happy and thankful to be a runner!!

After the ludicrous vote by Stoke Gifford parish council in Bristol to impose a charge on Little Stoke parkrun for using a public park – the first case of its kind in the world – there was a lot of negativity on social media last night. I was barely able to sleep after writing my own massive rant about the stupidity and short-sightedness of the decision, and thousands of other passionate parkrunners also took to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online petitions, emails and even the national news to air their outrage.

Some people have been spamming the parish councillors’ email addresses with angry emails, and many others have been talking about staging a protest parkrun involving thousands of people descending on Little Stoke this Saturday. I even considered that this might be something I’d like to do, if I wasn’t going away this weekend.

Parkrun UK has formally expressed its disappointment and announced that the council’s decision will be appealed. In the meantime, and in the event that the decision is not overturned, Little Stoke’s event directors are standing true to the spirit of parkrun by announcing that they will not bend to the council’s ridiculous charge, but will find an alternative venue that will keep parkrun “free forever”.

Tweets and shares quickly did the rounds to discourage angry parkrunners from staging any kind of vigilante protest run, and later an official email from parkrun UK was circulated to quiet everyone down, urging the parkrun community to “remain calm and measured in our actions” while the organisation deals with the fiasco via “the proper channels”. I dare say that there will be more than the average number of runners at Little Stoke this weekend, since Stoke Gifford parish council have so “graciously” given until the end of May to reach a resolution (i.e. if you won’t pay to use the park yourself, apply for a grant and get someone else to pay on your behalf), but I suppose this just goes to show how passionate people feel about parkrun, and the the threat that Stoke Gifford’s decision might pose to their own events around the country, and the world. It really is very humbling and I am so proud to be a part of the parkrun family!

Anyway, I had a fabulous run in the sun this evening with the guys from Run Alcester. The pace was pretty quick for me tonight – averaging 9:38 minute miles! – and we finished up in the pub. Which brings this blog post full-circle. Mmm cider…

https://www.strava.com/activities/544575832/embed/6bb292e1a66280d5a0eed05764d867442cb70d97

 

MTR#24: 7 miles, hill reps and a parkrun rant!

2016-04-12 21.27.40After a few days off following my 401 Challenge marathon on Friday, feeling a bit bleurgh after finally catching Tom’s cold, and after much deliberating, I eventually decided I would go for a run after all last night. And I thoroughly enjoyed it – funny how that happens!! I even went 2 miles further than the 5 miles I’d planned, and threw in some hill reps for good measure! After 3 days off, my legs felt super springy and it turns out I’m really not that ill after all…

Perhaps part of the reason I eventually had a really good run was to burn off some anger following some really quite shocking news concerning parkrun.

2016-04-09 08.59.42If you’ve never heard of parkrun, it’s a free, timed 5km run that happens in parks all over the country (and indeed the world!) at 9am every single Saturday. It’s absolutely brilliant – I actually volunteered as a marshall at my local event in Redditch on Saturday past. Parkrun UK is the non-profit organisation that oversees the events, and through sponsorship by a few companies they are able to provide each event with basic safety equipment such as hi-vis vests for marshals and route markers, and the basic timing equipment needed to ensure every runner who wants one gets a time for their run. This keeps runners coming back week after week as they try to better themselves and chase that elusive PB.

Other than sponsors providing this basic equipment, no money is received by local organisers: each and every one of the 395 events is entirely run by unpaid volunteers, and takes place in free-to-use public parks. A big part of parkrun is that it is, and always will be absolutely free for absolutely anyone to take part. It is all-inclusive for able-bodied and disabled runners, children, elderly people, people who run with dogs and prams, everyone. It’s no wonder more and more parkruns are popping up all over the country (a new one started in Stratford-upon-Avon just a few weeks ago!), and numbers of parkrunners are growing by the week.

But one stupid, stupid parish council in Bristol has decided to ruin it all for the parkrunners of Little Stoke. They have been threatening for months to impose a fee for Little Stoke parkrun to use the park, (unfoundedly) claiming that as “an organisation with paid directors, fund raisers and sponsors”, it would be unfair to expect the tax-paying residents of Stoke Gifford parish to cover the (undefined) costs of the “wear and tear” that parkrunners (allegedly) cause to the park. You can read their full, ridiculous statement, with Parkrun UK’s very fair and logical responses here.

I must confess I never thought this ludicrous proposal would go ahead, but last night, at a Stoke Gifford Parish Council meeting, the motion to charge parkrun to use the park was passed by 6 votes to 4. I am dumbfounded.

I take particular umbrage with two of the parish council’s points. Firstly, the suggestion that parkrun should pay for park maintenance because it is an organised event with paid directors. As with any large organisation, whether for profit or not, of course some paid staff are needed – that website isn’t going to get updated by itself and the logistics of managing over 8,000 volunteers each week isn’t going to happen by magic! The number of people on parkrun UK’s payroll? 12, including the founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt who was awarded a CBE in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours (because, y’know, if the monarch of our country thinks you’re doing a great job, that’s kind of a big deal).

But, as mentioned above, each and every one of the events is managed at the local level by unpaid volunteers. Parkrun is a non-profit organisation. Any money left over after paying 12 people their wages goes back into parkrun events. By Stoke Gifford’s logic, it would seem fine by them if 300 runners just decided to get together for a run but didn’t call it ‘parkrun’! (This would also surely be far less safe!) Likewise, if they have a problem with giving free community access to organisations with paid staff, then they should also take a cut from poppy and Big Issue sellers, or charge nannies and childminders for using the park.

The second thing I am stunned by is the insinuation that the goodly people of Stoke Gifford should not have to pay for park repairs caused by the “many” Little Stoke parkrunners who come from outside of the parish. FFS! Parks are meant to be used! What is the point of any of us paying council tax or parish precepts to maintain parks if no-one ever bloody uses them, and who gives a flying fig if – gasp! – outsiders from 5 miles down the road come to enjoy them as well! In reality, almost half of Little Stoke’s regulars live within the Stoke Gifford parish, and 60% live less than 3 miles from the park. Apart from a few visitors or parkrun tourists, the rest are likely to live in a very nearby area of Bristol, because if you travel much further away you’ll find another parkrun that is closer to home. Heavens forbid anyone should use a park in a different postcode to the one they live in! I live 7 miles away from my nearest parkrun and that’s in a completely different county!

Sadly, it looks like the end for Little Stoke parkrun. Standing true to parkrun’s values, they refuse to accept the fees that the council wants to impose, so are looking to move to another venue. In the meantime, the runners who used to enjoy their Saturday morning run around Little Stoke (and the children who used to enjoy their Sunday morning junior parkrun) will have to run without the safety and camaraderie of the parkrun banner, or drive to another parkrun nearby. Such a shame!

 

3.1 mile run: 972.3/1000 = 27.7 miles to go!

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My new 401 Challenge running shirt arrived just in time for Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!

Woke up with a bit of a sore throat and a sniffly nose this morning, but I felt guilty for not going as planned yesterday so was determined to go to Christmas Day parkrun!

I actually woke up at 7.30am thinking it would be on at 9am as usual, but in trying to convince Tom to come with me, he said I should check whether there even was a Christmas run at Arrow Valley this morning, and I found that it in fact started at 10am today. Oops.

2015-12-25 10.33.30So we had an extra hour in bed, during which time I convinced Tom to come with me. He didn’t want to race it today though, so he went at my pace – well, if I’m honest, he pushed me a bit faster than I would have run myself, but I kept up with him and came out with a time of 28:01 – not my best by a long way, but a pretty decent time considering recent pace.

Now to enjoy our traditional breakfast of a sausage sandwich and slice of pork pie, followed by present opening and a turkey dinner!

https://www.strava.com/activities/457320876/embed/e585796b707deadcedc4644b5c255986f01fe1cb

10.8 mile run(s): 941/1000 = 59 miles to go!

2015-12-19 09.39.45Double run parkrun VRUKbloghop day!

Yesterday was my third Christmas do in a row, following a meet-up in London with some friends on Wednesday, and part 2 of my netball team’s Christmas get-together in the local pub on Thursday night. This time I drove over to South Wales, where my boss for one of the organisations I work for lives, and we had a delicious lunch followed by yet more drinks in her village pubs.

I stayed over at her house near Monmouth last night, and took the opportunity this morning to do a bit of parkrun tourism in the Forest of Dean!

2015-12-19 09.39.55As was to be expected for a forest trail run, the route was incredibly muddy – my excruciatingly slow time of 34:16 can largely be explained by the fact that it was a constant battle to stay upright! Still, it was pretty fun – the forest is really pretty, all the regulars were dressed up in Christmassy outfits, and a couch-to-5k group was also making its parkrun debut, so there was lots to smile about.

I drove home in bare feet as my socks and shoes were absolutely soaked and caked in mud!

2015-12-19 14.08.18When I got home, I decided to don an old pair of (dry) trainers and go for another run to make up for the fact that I missed the 6.2 miles I’d pencilled in for Thursday (I was just too busy with work in the end, and maybe suffering a bit from Wednesday night…and I had a pub quiz to [almost] win in the evening!).

Though the streets of Alcester are significantly less muddy than the Forest of Dean, the weather was horrid – bursts of heavy rain and blustery wind. Still, I plugged myself into my headphones and busted out 7.1 miles, which was a bit further than I’d intended!

Blog Hop

9.1 mile run(s): 858.8/1000 = 141.2 miles to go!

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Me and Becky after run #1

Happy VRUK bloghop day, parkrun day, and a double run day t’boot!

This morning started with my first parkrun in quite a few weeks. Yesterday I had the crazy notion that I wanted to run to parkrun (7 miles), do parkrun (3 miles), and then run home (7 miles). I re-evaluated slightly and asked my friend Becky if she could she give me a lift there so I could just do the run, then run home. But Becky said she wasn’t sure if she was going, so my plan changed again to drive myself there and perhaps do a few extra miles around the park after parkrun.

Just before I was about to leave this morning, Becky texted me to say she did fancy parkrun after all, so I gave her a lift. We were running a bit late to be sure of getting a parking space at our “home” run, Arrow Valley, so we went to Evesham instead.

Blog HopAs I’m sure I’ve said before, Evesham parkrun is a lovely, flat riverside course, but it’s also half on grass – and today it was pretty muddy. I’m not the most stable on my feet at the best of times, but throw bumpy, muddy ground into the mix and I am a wobbling, achey mess! Combined with the horrible gusty cross wind, and my general tiredness at the moment, I did one of my worst parkrun times ever today. But never mind, I still did it.

2015-12-05 12.27.26I’d almost decided not to run again today and to have a rest instead, but with another 5.8 miles to go to meet my target of 39.2 miles this week, I thought I’d just do another “little” 3 miles or so to make up for yesterday.

Actually, when I set off, taking it very slow, I felt pretty good and turned off to do a 5 mile route instead. But that would have left me with just 0.8 miles to do tomorrow, and to be honest I don’t fancy the idea of running after playing a netball match tomorrow morning, so I rounded it up to 6 miles and actually went over my target by half a mile, yay!

I’m a bit tired now…We have friends coming for dinner tonight so I’m looking forward to lots of food and a glass or two of wine 🙂

https://www.strava.com/activities/444638126/embed/71cc17c04291361754c9cbc89ed22e82cbbf731a

3.6 mile run: 727.3/1000 = 272.7 miles to go!

2015-10-17 09.39.44Last run of the week and needed to do at least 3.4 miles to meet my target of 26 miles this week – as parkrun is only 3.1 miles I added in a little extra half a mile warm-up! Not a PB week for me this week – far from it in fact as my legs were pretty tired after yesterday’s 11 miles, but never mind, it’s another 3.6 miles in the bag, and my 31st parkrun. Just 19 left to get my 50 t-shirt!

Blog HopTom did parkrun with me this morning, and although he’s still 3 minutes off his PB, he was pleased to have done it over a minute quicker than his last attempt a few weeks ago. He didn’t make himself sick this time, which is always good!

Warm-up: https://www.strava.com/activities/416123291/embed/99e0a2b6e45f9d261c46c64b214b7985937c57dc

Parkrun: https://www.strava.com/activities/416123295/embed/586f1e7d64607807ec253ac35aac03048b12926f

4 mile run: 648.7/1000 = 351.3 miles to go!

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Me in front getting a nice bit of air 🙂 Photo by Erin Roberts

Happy parkrun/VRUK bloghop day! Tom decided to join me this morning for the first time in ages, yay!

Our parkrun is getting so popular now that it’s starting to be a struggle to park, so we set off early to try and get a parking space. Nope! We arrived at 8.40am and quite a few people were already turning around because they couldn’t get in. So instead, we parked down the road in a Morrison’s supermarket carpark and ran the extra mile, getting to the start line just in time!

After that sprint effort, and last night’s 10k, my legs felt a little bit weary so I had in mind to take it easy. But, I hadn’t realised it was ‘pacer day’ today! This is something that our parkrun organises once a month, where volunteers offer to run at a set pace so people can follow them and aim to finish in a particular time – great for PB chasers. I knew there wasn’t any point in trying to go for a PB today, so I optimistically settled myself in between the 27 and 28 minute pacers. Even that was a bit much though, and I dropped back a bit, finishing in 28:29. I’m OK with that – I’ve got too used to running slow recently, I think!

Blog HopTom beasted himself trying to get under 24 minutes – which he did, but was rewarded for his efforts by being sick about 50 metres from the finish line, eeew. For someone who hasn’t run properly since the half marathon in April, that’s not a bad (his PB is 20:28) , although I wish he wouldn’t go quite so hard!

Here’s a few more pics taken by our lovely parkrun volunteers 🙂