Marshaling at Pitsford Triathlon

Last Sunday I marshaled over at Brixworth for the Pitsford Triathlon, put on by Go Beyond. Regular readers will know that I regularly marshal at lots of the Go Beyond events. Steve Adams, the Race Director is a member of my running club.  I fell into marshaling for Go Beyond a few years ago now and it is something I have continued to do, as I enjoy being the other side of the tape now and again, and love to meet new runners.

I last marshaled at Pitsford in 2014. I couldn’t make it last year as it fell on the weekend that we moved house, but I added my name to the marshal list again once the date was confirmed for 2016.  Marshaling at a tri is a little different from marshaling at the many ultras and other running events I have helped out at in the past.  For one, there are lot more marshals required as there are three elements to the event.  I marshaled at the Shires and Spires ultra back at the start of June and commented on the blog at the time about how nice it was to be so knowledgeable about the course and the race to entrants as they questioned me on the registration desk, having run the course many times over the past few years, and having experience of both running and marshaling at a variety of ultra events now.
…Complete opposite at Pitsford!  Different swim times?  Cap colours?  Where to stick your number?  Huh?!
Although I’d never say never, a triathlon doesn’t really appeal to me right now.  I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, (for some reason my arms always end up doing all of the work and I only seem to kick my legs occasionally when I remember to do so) and I hate the feeling of bending over on a bike.  The thought of leaping into open water with hundreds of other swimmers with legs and arms and bobbing heads everywhere is also a little off-putting if I am honest, although our club is putting on a ‘Try a Tri’ event in August which I have said I’ll help marshal at this year and which I could potentially have a go at next year if it goes ahead again…
…We’ll see.
As usual, I was down to start on the registration desk last weekend.  Working on the registration desk is one of my favourite marshaling roles.  You get to meet and greet all the competitors and the role requires you to be super organised and think on the spot – skills I’d like to think I possess(?!)  Several of the competitors had been to collect race packs the previous evening, so we weren’t quite as busy this time round as we have been at some events in the past.
Pitsford triathlon
The swim began at 7:30am so from this point I was available to load my car with two large water containers, a box of plastic cups and my fellow marshal for the morning, Cathie – before heading over to my marshal spot at the far side of the reservoir on the run course.
Pitsford triathlon
We had a few problems finding the spot by road.  We’d both run round Pitsford dozens of times in the past, but never had to access any of the route by car before!  We found it in the end though after lots of map consulting, a chat with a random stranger and a bit of good luck.
Pitsford triathlon
As I was turning the car around to park it up by the spot we would need to get the tables out at, another car sped up towards me on the road.  They had to wait for maybe 5-10 seconds as I finished turning the car along the small lane.  (I had taken Dan’s new car so that I was able to utilise the extra boot space, so it was a little heavier to handle than I was used to.)  Despite it being barely 8am by this point, the couple in the car could not wait for me to turn and repeatedly honked their horn and shouted abuse at me out of the window.  I was not impressed!  There wasn’t much I could do about it though, other than continue to turn the car and move over onto the side of the road as soon as I was facing the right direction.  At least they were shooting off up away from the checkpoint so I wouldn’t see them again (or so I thought).
It didn’t take long to set up the marshal point.  We had a table to pitch, and then half-cups of water to fill and place on the table ready to hand to runners as they came by.  We were at about the halfway point on the run course and at the top of a gradual incline, so I knew the majority of runners would be taking advantage of the water out on the course, especially as the heat of the day had begun to pick up by this point, and I was already considering removing my Go Beyond hoodie before the lead runners came through.
Pitsford triathlon
As we were just debating whether or not to fill any more cups, the same car from earlier sped down the road again with their music on full blast and turned onto the grass verge set back on the private land a little along from where I had parked my car.  My car blocked the view of theirs, but even over their loud music Cathie and I could tell that they were having a very serious argument, involving lots of swearing and name calling.  At one point, the woman got out of the car and staggered up the road (in the opposite direction to where the runners would be heading), seemingly drunk whilst on her phone as the guy remained in the car shouting at her to return.
It wasn’t long before she returned to the car and then all we could hear was the sound of loud music again for 10-15 minutes before the fighting resumed.
The land owners drove past at one point and clearly indicated that the couple were parked on private property.  They started their car as if to drive off, but turned the engine back off again as the land owners disappeared back out of sight.
As the woman got out of the car for a second time (this time seemingly looking for Pokemon!) the guy weaved the car backwards and forwards across the road behind her.  As they were finally out of earshot, I quickly called Alan, the run course sector lead and asked for advice.  They had been hanging around for more than an hour by now I was concerned that they would still be weaving in and out across the road as runners came by later and potentially cause an accident or direct abuse at the competitors.  I was feeling rather uncomfortable and vulnerable at the road-side at the still fairly-early hour and needed a bit of back-up!  Alan suggested that as it appeared they were both heavily drunk I call the police.  As I was then starting to do so, the woman got back into the car and they sped off up the road for a final time.  Just in time too, as the front runners were then heading round the corner.
I finally felt like I could relax and do my job properly once more!
Pitsford triathlonRunners ran up this slight incline towards where I was stood at the water station at the top.  As it was on a hill, their pace had dropped off slightly and I managed to perfect the technique of handing half-filled cups of water to competitors as they ran past without getting anyone too wet!
Pitsford triathlonRunners then continued to run past me, along the road, before turning back onto the gravel track that loops around the reservoir.  Cathie stood on the corner collecting thrown cups to be binned.Pitsford triathlonOther than the drunks in the car, our shift went without hitch and after the last runner had passed we emptied the water containers and refilled my car with the now-empty containers, remaining cups and full bin bags before heading back to base where the final runners were now crossing the finish line and presentations were taking place.
I bumped into Sarah here, who proudly showed me her first in Age Category trophy.  Well done Sarah! :)
Time for a sausage sandwich and hot chocolate before helping to pack away the equipment!
Have you ever felt vulnerable following the actions of others whilst out in the countryside?
Have you tried a tri before?  Or would you be tempted to do so?
Do you prefer water in bottles or cups at an event?

The inaugural Linford Wood parkrun

As I mentioned in my parkrun post last week, I’m hoping to up the amount of parkrun tourism I complete this year.

Last weekend, Laura had heard of a new event taking place in Milton Keynes, so we toddled off to the inaugural Lingford Wood event.
I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get there, so left just before 8am. Despite being further away than my home event at Northampton it was actually a lot easier to travel over to and parking at the designated car park the other end was super easy as there was a marshal in an orange parkrun top stood on the entrance to the car park who was then directing runners along the short walk to where the race briefing was to take place.
Laura and I met another runner from our club there as we arrived. (The guy I mentioned in my post last week who has run in 31 different parkrun locations so far.) Laura started a conversation with him about her parkrun times dropping recently due to her injury and my pregnancy. Turns out, his wife is also pregnant at the moment and due on the 5th Oct (the day after me) with plans to deliver in the same hospital!

Linford Wood parkrun(I’m in the blue jacket at the front with my back to the camera.)

Apparently the event organisers had been nervous that the new event last week would attract large numbers and had been pushing the fact that the other Milton Keynes parkrun was offering a pacing event on the same day in the run up to the event.  There ended up being the perfect amount of starters on Saturday morning though with 188.

We had the pre-race briefing where the Race Director mentioned that he had a sign up list for anyone looking to marshal at future Linford Wood parkrun events.  I haven’t seen a sign-up list at any other events before, but it clearly works, as I believe they have six different Race Directors lined up for the coming weeks.  All of the marshals and volunteers on the day were absolutely superb and very encouraging.

When we were directed along the track towards the start I took a short detour to the edge of the path in order to drop my jacket off by the tree where some marshals were stood.  We would be running past the tree on the way out, and then we would pass it again just before the finish.

Linford Wood parkrun(I’m in the purple tank top in the middle of the photo.)

What we hadn’t realised was that upon reaching the start line, we needed to push our way through the already-forming line of front runners, as we would be running back in the direction we had come from.  Laura and I were some of the last runners to make our way to the start and were desperately trying to squeeze our way through to the back ready for the start, but never made it and instead ended up just turning around when the run began.  Much closer to the start than I am comfortable with at the moment!  There wasn’t a lot we could do though, except spend those first several minutes getting overtaken by faster runners!

Linford Wood parkrun

I had been in two minds whether or not to remove my jacket before the run, but I was so glad that I had.  It was a really warm, muggy morning and I was glad to be wearing one less layer out on the course.  The whole route is through woodland, so we were actually pretty sheltered from the sun which made things a little easier.  Still not comfortable wearing my loose shorts over the baby bump I had opted for a pair of very thin three-quarter tights and this combo seemed to work well to keep me relatively cool out there.

I felt better and better as the run went on, and managed to pick my pace right up towards the end.

Linford Wood parkrun

Mile 1: 10:51
Mile 2: 11:11
Mile 3: 10:36
Nubbin (0.16m): 9:06mm pace

Paths are narrow on the course, and it was very twisty-turny out in the woods along several of the tracks.  There wasn’t a huge amount of space for overtaking in some parts and brambles and nettles encroached onto some of the edges of the footpath in places.  I’m not sure that it makes for a ‘fast’ course as such, but definitely an enjoyable one and one I would like to try again when I’m back to full fitness later in the year.

Garmin time: 34:08
Official time: 34:10
Position: 147/188
Gender position: 42/70
Age category position: 4/6

There were loads of 250 parkrunners out at the event.  For one of them it was their 381st parkrun!  I don’t think I’d even seen a 250 parkrun t-shirt before!  I still haven’t worn my 50 parkrun top as it arrived when my bump was too big and I didn’t want to stretch the material so that it looks silly after I’ve had the baby.

All pictures are from the Linford Wood parkrun Flickr page.

What is the highest number of parkruns run by someone you know?

28 weeks pregnant

I’ve left the ‘Running at…’ part off from my post title this week, as these pregnancy countdown posts have been more general just recently, although I still fully intend on mentioning the running!  School finishes for me on Thursday afternoon (finally!) and so after that I should hopefully be able to blog more frequently and about individual runs during the week after that anyway.  I’m also hoping to get more on track with these posts as I’m falling behind each week.  My ‘changeover’ day for each week of pregnancy is the Tuesday, and with me posting my weekly recap on Sunday this week, I’m actually pretty much into my 30th week already!

28 weeks pregnantThis was me before heading out for a run on Tuesday evening at 28 weeks pregnant.  As you can see, the bump is getting harder to hide now!  (If you can see me behind the dirty mirror glass in our bedroom that is.  Whoops!)

We had the dreaded, but not unexpected, call from Ofsted at school on Monday afternoon, so I only managed to get in two runs this week.  Bedford parkrun last Saturday morning, and then just short of 8 miles of trail with a friend on Tuesday evening.  Somehow this week I managed to feel more comfortable on the trail run at a slightly faster pace than I have done just lately and despite a couple of walk breaks and some rough ground on the route we managed to complete the course in an hour and a half.  I was convinced that by now I would be running 15 minute mile pace on all of my runs, if I was even still able to run at all!  The urge to pee every five minutes seems to have disappeared this week thankfully as well.  Perhaps because my belly has grown so much over the past fortnight so the baby is no longer pressing on my bladder as much?  I managed to run the whole 8 miles without having to duck behind any trees this week anyway!

28 weeks pregnantIt did spit with rain slightly on our run, but it was quite nice and refreshing to be honest.  The weather we’ve had just lately has been bizarre.  Most of the time it’s been super muggy, but every so often we’ve had a flash rainstorm, or I’ve been freezing when I’ve woken up in the morning.  I never know how to dress each day!  I saw my first double rainbow in years from out of our home office window last weekend.

Double rainbowThis week was a busy one in terms of baby-related things.  Not buying of baby related things mind you, – we are still yet to do any of that.  Something which I only really thought we perhaps should think about a little more about when a friend who is just 14 weeks pregnant told of how she had already filled a room with baby items and been practising wrapping nappies for when her first baby arrives in January!

On Tuesday evening after work I had my whooping cough vaccination.  For someone that isn’t a fan of needles I can’t praise the nurse enough.  As soon as I’d mentioned that I don’t like needles she jabbed it in my arm so that I had no time to react and then I was sent back to sit in the waiting room for 10 minutes just to make sure all was OK.  By Wednesday morning I had a proper dead arm though.  It doesn’t help that I sleep on my left side and had kept waking up during the night from the dull ache in my arm on that side.

I had been given permission to have the day working from home as an inset day on Wednesday as I was having a visit from the local Health Visitor in the middle of the day.  I only had one lesson during the day anyway due to school trips, year 10 work experience and interform activities so had been granted to spend the day at home marking and catching up on new schemes of work for next academic year.  Luckily my request was granted before the Ofsted visit was declared, otherwise the school might not have been so lenient!

Our house is currently in a state of…well, just a state actually!  Our lounge was looking something like this on Wednesday morning…Electric socket in the lounge…with huge holes in the wall cut in for electrical sockets, half stripped wallpaper and the majority of the skirting removed.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the Health Visitor visit, but knew the main purpose of the visit was to introduce themselves and to ensure that we were preparing ourselves and our home for when we return from hospital with the baby in the Autumn.  Before I even let her in the house I apologised for the state of redecoration and she made it clear that as long as it was clean that was the main thing.  Which it was.

The visit ended up lasting less than an hour and consisted mainly of me answering a series of questions to reassure her that Dan and I had thought through how things are going to be different next year.  I was asked what Dan did for a living, if we had bought any baby items yet, what my plans for maternity leave were, whether or not we had looked into childcare, how far our families lived away…and various similar questions.  I was left with several leaflets of information and details of when I would next be visited again. (Between 10-14 days after birth, 6 weeks after birth, 8 months after birth and 2.5 years after birth!)

Later that afternoon was the second of our antenatal classes, which Dan returned home from work for.  Despite arriving with just a minute to spare we were the first to arrive for our class and for a while thought it might end up being just us.  A few minutes later though we were joined by a lady who had also been there the previous week, and then 15 minutes later another, whose partner also joined us just before the end of the class.  It’s scary to think that some of the ladies from the previous week might not have been there because they had already had their babies!  The three of us there this week are all due in October.  Me with the smallest bump though it seems.

This week’s class was all about the actual giving birth part.  We watched a video and the midwife explained in detail what to expect.  Dan made me laugh when he turned to me after the video and exclaimed that he thought they were going to blur out the actual birth part, not show it!
I must admit I haven’t learnt a huge amount from the antenatal classes so far – although I did discover that each midwife is only assigned to one expecting couple in hospital, not multiple couples.  I don’t know if that’s just a local thing though?

I weighed myself for the first time this week since falling pregnant to see how much weight I had put on since doing so.  The scales showed as me having gained about 19lbs in total so far.  I’ve used my pre-pregnancy starting weight as my weight from just before Christmas, as I would have fallen pregnant early January and didn’t weigh myself when I first found out.  I used this pregnancy calculator to work out if I was roughly where I should be in terms of weight gain at this point and I’m at the lower end of the expected weight gain based on my starting weight apparently.  I could weigh up to 9lbs more than I do and it would still be classed in the ‘normal’ range.  Not that I’m concerned, as I don’t feel like I’ve put on loads of weight (despite 19lbs sounding like a lot!) and I still feel fairly comfortable considering that I am in the third trimester!

One of my biggest concerns at the moment are the varicose veins that appear to be popping out of my right leg from the side of my knee.  I meant to talk about them in my post a few weeks ago but kept forgetting.  I first noticed them when I was about 15 weeks pregnant.  They are blue and purple, large, raised and very ugly.

Pregnancy veinsThey are almost impossible to get a shot of, and this photograph does not reveal the full horror that they are.  :(  I’ll try and get a better image later this week.  I haven’t spoken to my midwife about them yet (I intend to do so at my 30 week appointment this Thursday), but from researching online myself it appears that the extra pressure during pregnancy often results in veins being pushed to the surface of the skin like this, particularly on the right side of the body as the uterus grows.  They appear much worse if I have been on my feet all day, like at our year 7 interform event on Friday this week, when they were really sticking out.  :(

Have you had varicose veins before?
Are you a fan of needles?

A bit of parkrun tourism in Bedford

Feeling the need to head out for a bit more parkrun tourism this past weekend, Laura and I decided to head over to Bedford – a course new to Laura and one I had only run twice before.

Traveling to any races in the Bedford region always makes me feel like a runner – from where I live I have to drive along the Paula Radcliffe Way dual carriageway, – it gets you in the running mood before you even arrive!

Bedford is a two and a half lap course and has similar numbers of runners to the Northampton course.  It is also about the same distance away for me to travel, but less of a parking headache at the other end!

Despite saying the other week that I feel that I am running better in the mornings at the moment, I’d like to retract that statement after recent morning run attempts!  Because I now can’t really eat or drink before leaving for a run (baby leaves me no room in there!) I find myself rather lacking in energy on my morning runs as I’ve just been in bed asleep for the past seven hours (slight exaggeration on recent night’s sleep!) without food or drink.

Getting dressed for a run is also a chore at the moment.  I have just two sports bras that fit and that I can do up on my own now and some of my running tops look ridiculous or ride up over my bump as I run, so washing is frequent at the moment and I am limited as to what I can wear each time I head out!  I’ve stuck to wearing long tights for runs too, as they offer more support for the bump than my preferred loose-fitting shorts do.  The humidity of late has not really called for tights though, and I do find myself getting rather warm early into a run now.

I arrived at Bedford in time for the briefing and Laura and I also met up with a couple of other runners from our club who were there for some Saturday morning tourism.  The briefing is a short walk away from the start line and after receiving the briefing, we returned to the start and to the back of the already-formed crowd.  Always better to be overtaking people than to be overtaken yourself.

The course is two full laps of the park before a half lap which then cuts down through the middle of the park from the cafe and down to the finish line.  We were overtaken by the first male after just one lap, and the first female stormed past us through the middle of the park towards the finish as we ran past the cafe on our second lap.

On the bright side though, my running was pretty consistent for being 28 weeks pregnant, we chatted the whole way round and I still managed to achieve a Royal Flush negative split. (11:04, 10:52, 10:47, 9:27mm pace)

On the not so bright side, I was desperate for the loo before even reaching mile 1 and we were overtaken at the end of the first lap!  The past few weeks has gone from me running with Laura through her injury to Laura running with me through my pregnancy.

Garmin time: 34:18
Official time: 34:20
Position: 289/367
Gender position: 100/143
Age category position: 8/9

On the last lap we ran past someone who had used to work in Laura’s office, who then asked if she could tag onto the back of our little group to keep her going.  She crossed the finish with us, introducing me to her husband at the end.  Until she mentioned, he hadn’t realised that I was seven months pregnant!  I hope everyone doesn’t just think I’m lacking in effort and am rather chunky because I like my post-parkrun cake! 😉

Although parking at Bedford park hadn’t been a headache, remembering which side street I had left my car on was, and it actually took me the best part of 30 minutes to find my car again at the end!  Whoops!  Will take a better mental note of where I parked next time!

Laura alerted me to this link on the parkrun website, where runners who have run the highest amounts of different parkrun courses are listed.  One of the runners at our club features on the list having run 31 different parkrun locations during his 54 parkruns.

I’m a fair way off his impressive total.  My 53 parkruns have been run over just seven different courses:

  • Northampton – 28 runs
  • Peterborough – 10 runs
  • Sheringham – 6 runs
  • Corby – 4 runs
  • Bedford – 3 runs
  • Huntingdon – 1 run
  • Daventry – 1 run

This coming Saturday is the first Linfood wood parkrun event in Milton Keynes which I’m hoping to be able to attend, taking my total up to 8 parkruns.

The other negative about running in the mornings at the minute is that I often then find myself wanting to nap in the afternoon at the moment.  I did succumb to a 90 minute nap later on in the day before heading out for a veggie burger for dinner with Dan that evening.

Vegetarian burger

Side note: I hate food served on a wooden board!

How many different parkrun events have you run?
Which is your favourite parkrun event and why?
Food on wood – yay or nay?