Why I love my Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport running buggy

It was always going to be the case that I purchased a running buggy.

Out 'n' About Nipper Sport V4

Despite saying during pregnancy that I thought I probably wanted to keep running as my ‘me time’ during the week, having a running buggy makes it so much more practical to fit runs in since Oscar arrived and it helps me remain a regular attendee at parkrun on a Saturday morning.

When Oscar was just a few weeks old, a friend from my running club told me about Wendy from Running Buggies coming to Stanwick Lakes the following week.  She was going to be demonstrating some of the different running buggies that her business sold and be on hand to offer advice to buggy runners.

I think it might have been my very first trip out on my own with Oscar in the car at that point, and I still had no clue what I was doing as a Mum with a new baby (do we ever really know?!) but I was determined to get to Stanwick Lakes, just 2 miles up the road and a regular running haunt for me – as I felt it would be so helpful to view the buggies in person and to be able to chat to other Mums as well as Wendy, who had a wealth of knowledge about the different buggies available.

The day before the event I messaged to say that I would be going along and Wendy asked what my requirements were in a buggy.  I told her that I would mainly be running short distances with the buggy – plenty of parkruns and runs around an hour in length, including some off road running.  The buggy wouldn’t be used for town trips, but would potentially also be used for weekend walks in the countryside.

The two buggies which she suggested I try out that (very cold) Friday morning were the Thule Glide and the Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport V4.  Both would be suitable for my requirements, with the Out ‘n’ About weighing in slightly heavier and the Thule sporting a larger price tag.

Thule Glide and the Out n About Nipper Sport V4Wendy helpfully held Oscar for me (and found an extra blanket to wrap him in as I was totally unprepared for the chilly wind that was raging that morning!) so that I may run along the track (childless!) and test out each of the two buggies.

Although I didn’t purchase a buggy immediately following that visit, I took sets of information packs home with me to weigh up my options and check my bank balance ready for the day I inevitably did purchase a buggy.

Had it not been for Wendy putting on an event I wouldn’t have known where to begin when it came to testing out running buggies or knowing the difference between all the makes and models.  Where do you go to try out a running buggy?!  I had assumed that all three wheeled buggies were suitable for running and in all conditions, but that is not the case at all.

It is recommended that you do not run with a baby in a buggy, even a dedicated running buggy, until they are at least six months old and capable of holding their own head up confidently.  Similar to the time that you are confident in placing them in a high chair at the table with you for dinner.

Just before Oscar turned six months old I spoke to Wendy again.  She was headed back up to my side of the country and offered to bring along a couple of buggies for me to try out now that I would be able to test them out with Oscar as passenger.  I thanked her for her kind offer but had already decided to invest in the Out ‘n’ About Nipper by this point, so headed over to her website to make my purchase.

And I haven’t looked back!

Oscar and I with the running buggy

Having my own running buggy has been great for so many reasons, mainly:

  • I can easily take Oscar out on walks so that we may both enjoy the fresh air along bridleways and footpaths – some tracks which a regular buggy would not be able to cope with.
  • I can fit in runs during the daytime when I’m a lone parent, or during weeks when Dan is working away from home and I otherwise would not be able to run.
  • I can run Oscar to sleep on all those days when he refuses to take a nap!

Some of the features of the Out ‘n’ About Nipper Sport I have found really useful are:

  • Great suspension
    • When Oscar was about 3 or 4 months old I liked to take him out for a walk every day in his day-to-day buggy.  I vividly remember walking along a wide rocky gravel track and Oscar crying so much from the movement of the buggy that I ended up picking him up and placing him on my shoulder to calm him, whilst awkwardly pushing the heavy buggy along with my other hand.  I regularly run down this gravelly track now with my Out ‘n’ About buggy whilst Oscar snores away inside!
      Oscar and I at Wimpole Estate parkrun
  • Handbrake
    • Alongside the handlebar is a handbrake.  I always make sure to have my hand close to this when running downhill!
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy
  • Safety strap
    • Sliding my hand through this strap when running gives me piece of mind that if I trip or stumble, the buggy and Oscar aren’t going to continue rolling out into the road, or into potential danger.  Instead, the buggy will stay by my side (and hopefully help to keep me upright should I trip too!)
  • Undercarriage storage
    • There is a fair amount of storage underneath the buggy for items you might need on a run or space for a mini food shop after an emergency run to the shops!  (If you push the sun visor up, it does a great job of holding a french stick in place too I discovered!)
      French stick in the running buggy
  • Top pockets alongside the visor
    • These are great for holding my phone and keys when I run, so that they’re easy to grab should I need them.
  • The adjustable back
    • Although Oscar could sit up unaided from about five months old, I still always made sure to place an array of cushions behind him when he was on the floor during the early days, as he wasn’t always that stable!  The back of the Out ‘n’ About Nipper can be adjusted so that it reclines and this is how I used it when we first started out running together.  Now that Oscar is older, he wants to be able to see where he’s going all the time so I’ve adjusted the back to a more upright position.
      Oscar at March parkrun
  • It’s Lightweight (9.8kg)
    • Following my Caesarean, when Dan returned to work I remained housebound for several weeks as I could not lift or turn the original buggy we owned.  The difference in weight between that buggy and the running buggy is very noticeable, and I am able to hold the Out ‘n’ About easily with just one hand.
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy - lightweight
  • Adjustable handlebar
    • I’m fairly tall so have the handlebar set at it’s highest setting.  My friend Jenny is much shorter than me and when I was unable to collect Oscar from nursery one day last Summer she was able to adjust the handlebar so that pushing the buggy became more comfortable for her.
  • 16″ wheels
    • Every non-runner comments on the size of these!
      Oscar in the running buggy
  • Fixed front wheel
    • This takes some getting used to.  My brother still complains that he finds it impossible to push Oscar’s running buggy when out on a walk, but it’s really not difficult when you’re used to it.  All running buggies should have fixed wheels.  If you were running along with a regular buggy which has front wheels which twist and your front wheel hit a large stone, causing the wheel to twist quickly to the side you could soon end up heading into the road, or into other runners if you were at a parkrun or race.  When turning a buggy with a fixed wheel, the way to change direction is to lightly put pressure on the handlebar at the back of the buggy, resulting in the (very light) front wheel lifting from the ground.  You can then angle the buggy in the direction you want to be headed before returning the front wheel to the ground again.
      Sounds complicated and slow, but very quick easy after a few tries.
  • Easy to use foot brake
    • The foot brake is located at the back of the buggy and is bright red, so impossible to miss.  It’s a quite large plastic flap, which is really easy to push down and up again when you want to remove the brake to continue on with your journey.
  • Ease of fitting in a car boot
    • I choose to leave the back seats down on one side in my car, meaning I can literally just throw the buggy into the back of the car and drive off when I want to head out, with the buggy ready to go as soon as I arrive at my destination.  If we travel in Dan’s car, Dan likes to keep the buggy within his boot, but it takes just seconds to unscrew and pop off the front wheel, meaning that it easily fits widthways in the back of his car.
  • Super rain cover
    • I’ve had to use the rain cover a few times whilst out on a run now and found the cover so quick and easy to throw over the buggy.  There is a large velcro strip which runs along the back of the cover, and two sets of poppers which attach around the front wheel support to keep the cover in place.  Oscar sleeps through the whole thing!
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy with raincoverOut 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy with raincover
  •  Breathable back panel
    • Not only does this mean that the buggy doesn’t become so stuffy in the hot Summer months, but it also helps to make the buggy more aerodynamic when you want to pick up some speed.
      Out 'n' About Nipper Sport running buggy with Oscar
  • The viewing pane
    • Very handy to spot when Oscar is falling asleep, or when he is munching on falling leaves he shouldn’t have in there with him!
      Oscar in the running buggy

You can also buy footmuffs for the buggy, which look super snug, but I love this blanket which my friend crocheted for Oscar not long after he was born.  It’s super colourful and you can definitely see us coming on a run!
Northampton parkrun with the buggy

So what does Oscar think?  I’m pretty sure he loves it.  He spends most parkruns waving madly at people as we run by.  Just recently he’s also added the phrase “Bye bye” to the wave.  I really hope that nobody thinks I’m sarcastically commenting on the fact that we’re passing them, and instead realise that it is my child waving and commenting as we run by!

Pacing at the 300th Northampton parkrun

Last Saturday was the 300th parkrun held at the Northampton Racecourse.  I’ve run 45 of my parkruns at the Northampton event and it’s the place I would still consider my ‘home’ course.

Training hadn’t gone to plan during the week and I’d ended up missing a few of my planned runs.  I was back in Norfolk for the Tuesday-Thursday as I had another family funeral to attend on the Thursday.  The first night I was back I managed 15 lengths of the road my Dad lives on before my Garmin beeped to show 6 miles.  A very boring, dark and windy run.  But miles done, nonetheless.

The next two days I was quite poorly, and even had to return to bed for several hours on Wednesday afternoon as I really just did not feel well at all.

My Dad did make me and Oscar a lovely salad to share on the Wednesday to try and make me feel better.  I do love a big salad with lots of different elements to it!

Friday – back in Northamptonshire once more and I was all geared up for my long run.  Oscar attends a full day at nursery on a Friday and it has become my getting-things-done day.  I usually spend a fair bit of time catching up on life admin – essentially computer life and typed work – as getting onto the computer whilst watching a toddler is becoming rather an impossible task!

Because I’d been away for three days though, and Dan had been working away in Basingstoke from Monday to Wednesday so had also been away, I spent the first three hours of the day desperately trying to get our house back in check.  Washing done, post sorted, bins out, all the usual stuff that gets forgotten about when you factor in time spent away from home.  I had just changed into my running clothes with the intention of heading out for a long run, catching up on a few blogs over lunch and then getting tea in the slow cooker before sorting the life admin out when nursery called to ask me if I would collect Oscar and book a doctor’s appointment for him as he had very gunky eyes and they felt he needed to have drops prescribed.  I still had so much I needed to get done that day, and having been poorly myself that week, and attending another funeral the day before I ended up bursting into tears.  I just wanted to feel as though I’d caught up a little!  Is that even possible?  I don’t think I ever sit down and relax, and am so jealous of those who can.

I had already rung the doctors that morning to try and get a set of my test results back, but been ‘in the queue’ to speak to a receptionist for 45 minutes before giving up.  Thank goodness for the speakerphone option on a phone because I would not have sat still with the phone to my ear for that length of time!  As the doctor surgery is on the way to nursery I stopped by to book an appointment on the way to collect Oscar.  After his (less than three minute long) appointment that afternoon we then had an hour’s wait for the prescription and so spent some time at the nearby park, which Oscar loved and really did not want to leave!

As Wednesday-Friday had all ended up as non-running days for me that week I decided to turn Saturday into my long run day for a change.  I had already volunteered as 30 minute pacer at Northampton parkrun that morning, and I would be finishing my nightshift at 7am just a few miles up the road.  Therefore it made sense for me to get some extra miles in before the parkrun rather than just hang around in the car for that extra time.  There was no football match on Saturday afternoon so Dan would be around to have Oscar so that I could catch up on a little sleep on my return before I had another shift that evening.

In the end, Laura mentioned that she was planning on running from her home to the parkrun that morning as she was also volunteering that day and so I invited myself along.  We ended up running four miles before our volunteer brief, then 5k at parkrun, followed by a further two miles back again, totalling just over 9 miles for the morning which I was happy with.

A little after we arrived at the briefing location, Rachael, one of the other Milton Keynes Marathon ambassadors, turned up with her boyfriend.  He was down to volunteer as photographer that day.  We had a chat as we’d not met before and as it had been a little while since Rachael had run the course Laura and I filled her in on the course changes.

Tim managed to capture my face perfectly when I was told that I would have to climb up a step ladder to wave at the 700+ parkrunners whilst it was announced I was the pacemaker for 30 minutes!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

The thought of climbing up those steps was probably more nerve-wracking than having other runners rely on me to pace a time!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

A quick briefing for parkrun volunteers acting in new roles for the day and then to our places ready for the start!

Northampton parkrun volunteersPicture credit: Tim Bullard

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

I knew that to run a 30 minute 5k, I needed to be running at 9:39mm pace – a pace I can run at fairly comfortably.  I aimed to run at around 9:30s to allow for weaving or over-distance.

After giving the New Runner Briefing, Laura had offered to run with me with the intention that between us we should hopefully be able to keep on target to run the time required.

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

The first mile is always a little slow at Northampton – it’s such a mad rush from a wide start onto narrow paths.  We still managed to run the mile in 9:39 though.  Worried that I perhaps needed to pick up the pace by a few seconds to allow for the weaving I inevitably had to do I pulled forward a little and ran the second mile in 9:20.  As I had printed out and worn ’30 mins’ on my back, we had several comments as we passed other runners.  Some I could hear were using me as an incentive to pick up the pace and stay at that speed and others just using it as a guide to what time they would achieve.  One guy had a chat to me about how I managed to stay so consistent throughout and I told him it was due to the constant checking of my watch!

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Tim Bullard

As we began the final mile I could feel Laura picking up the pace a little and so called out that I needed to stay steady to not beat the 30 minute mark by a huge amount.  A man running past told me that we were running way too fast and that he was on for 29 minutes, which I found rather frustrating, as he definitely didn’t finish in 29 minutes that day and I knew we would be fairly close to the 30 minutes I had set out to run.  Final mile: 9:37.

Northampton parkrun pacer

Picture credit: Northampton parkrun Facebook

We could see the funnel in the distance wasn’t holding everybody and runners had begun to spill out back onto the track – queuing to get through the finish line.  When I reached the final stretch I had planned on shouting out to those nearby to stick with me if they were aiming for a sub 30 minute parkrun, but I lost my confidence a little when I could see the finish line was backlogged, unsure of what time I would officially record so remained quiet and instead just hoped that those who had wanted a 30 minute time had been following me as they saw the sign I was wearing go by.

My last little nubbin was run at 9:38 pace, although it was then several seconds before the volunteer with the clicker walked back along the line to click us through as finishers.  It took me a few seconds to remember to stop my watch afterwards as well so I wasn’t sure what my official time would be when the results came out.  I was really happy to see how close I got to 30 minutes in the end though!

Official time: 29:58
Position: 410/703
Gender position: 99/292
Age category position: 18/49

There was plenty of cake laid out on a nearby table as Northampton parkrun were celebrating their 300th run that day.  It was my 45 run on the course, which sounds like so many when I think back to last year and how I was really looking forward to achieving my 50th parkrun goal.

After refuelling with a slice of cake each, we were starting to get chilly and I was starting to feel very tired.  Laura and I set off for a final two miles back to hers where I jumped in the car to head home for a post-work/parkrun nap.  I was so ready for that nap!

Have you paced an event before?
Or used a pacer yourself?

The National Running Show

The weekend before last was the first National Running Show – something I had been looking forward to for quite a while.  I hadn’t bought anything running related in what felt like ages, so I was ready to see what gizmos and gadgets shouted out at me at the NEC last week, taking along the remainder of my Christmas money.

The National Running Show

The show ran for both days of the weekend and originally I had planned on heading down on the Sunday with my friend Laura.  I knew things would be a little touch and go when it came to staying awake on the Sunday, as I was originally due to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday night of that weekend (all 10pm-7am).  I would have Oscar on my own all day Saturday, making more sense for me to head down childfree the following day.  A few days before the event I was told that I no longer needed to work on the Friday night though, then making much more sense to head down to Birmingham on the Saturday.  I hoped that Dan’s Mum would be able to take Oscar for the few hours I visited, but she was unfortunately busy so Oscar joined me for the show instead and Dan dropped us off that morning on the way through to watch the footy at Wolverhampton.

Most of the people I knew who were headed over to the show were heading down the following day, but I did get to have a lovely catch up with Anna, who had ticked ‘K’ off her parkrun alphabet challenge list that morning and was buzzing about her upcoming marathon in Dubai later in the week.

I also spoke to Faisal, who I hadn’t met or talked to before, but who is also a member of the UK Fitness Bloggers community and had recognised me from my profile picture on there.  He is working towards 12 marathons in 12 months for charity during 2018.  Definitely making me feel like I need to up my marathon game this year!

Another part of my decision to head to the show on the Saturday rather than the Sunday had been due to the speakers on the program that day.  I really wanted to listen to Jo Pavey and also Susie Chan.  And I ended up listening to several others throughout the day as well.  The exhibition was much smaller than I was expecting it to be and I had seen pretty much everything to the extent I wanted to look at it by the time I settled down to catch Jo Pavey just after 10am which was rather disappointing.

I had hoped that the show would be at least a similar size to the expo at London Marathon, but this wasn’t the case.  I also found that several of the exhibitors I wanted to question directed me to email them via their website to find out the information I was after, which wasn’t really ideal, as I thought I was asking fairly basic, common questions that someone representing the product should have been able to answer.

I had taken Oscar along in his running buggy, as I find it much more lightweight than his original buggy.  We tend to use his running buggy for day to day use now and have done since he turned six months old pretty much.  Several people stopped to ask me about it, and the lady on the Thule stand even used my turning technique as a demo to a number of couples on the few occasions I drove it past!  I’m writing a post about Oscar’s running buggy at the moment, – it has definitely been a game changer when it comes to fitting runs in around everything else this year.  So check back hopefully later this week if you are interested in hearing more about that.

I quite fancied getting myself some nice headphones at the show as mine are forever falling out of my ears.  I have been using my mp3 player regularly since Dan bought it for me for my birthday last October but it’s just so frustrating when my earphones go flying out all the time!  The guys on the Aftershokz stand didn’t seem to want to know though and on coming home I’ve found I can order them for much cheaper online, so that’s probably what I’ll do at some point in the next couple of weeks.

My best find of the day were these fabulous Pace Pockets pace bands, which I picked up in 4h 30m and 4h 15m timings as I hope to fall somewhere between the two at Milton Keynes in May.

Pace pockets - pacer band

The fabric folds over at the top to enable you to hold a key safely inside and they’re completely washable, so it will no longer be sweat-soaked paper pacing bands which I’ve printed from the internet and wrapped in sellotape strapped to my wrist!  They were £5 each – a real bargain!

Pace pockets - pacer band

I also picked up a marathon card for a friend who is running her first marathon this year, but I won’t share that on here, as she often drops by my blog.

I had put together a pack up for the day including lots of snacks for Oscar, and loaded a selection of books and toy cars into the bottom of the buggy.  He was in a lovely mood for the whole morning, and when I let him out to explore along the right of the main stage area he bum shuffled over to those sat around us, desperate for a new friend to play cars with or to read him a book that he carried over!  He was very good, and never strayed too many shuffles away – always coming back for another piece of his snack!  I did manage to listen to the whole Jo Pavey talk, which was very inspiring, and when the lady who had been sat next to me on the floor got up at the end to leave she crouched down next to me and said “You may not think it, but he has been really good!”  (Talking about Oscar.)  “My son would never have let me listen to all of that!”  (Her partner had headed off with their baby in his buggy near the very beginning of the talk.  It was a lovely thing for her to say and I felt very proud of Oscar for being so good.

It was a little after this that Anna stopped by for a chat and Oscar was beginning to get restless as he was so tired by now.  I gave him an apple and loaded him into the buggy but he only managed a few bites before freezing mid-mouthful as he fell asleep still gripping tightly onto his apple!  I managed to get round a few stalls with him like this before deciding to park the buggy up again ready for the afternoon speakers.

I managed to catch Steve Edwards who had some great stories to share.  Steve has run over 800 marathons with an average finishing time of 3h 18m and I really enjoyed listening to his tales of mad rushes around the world to fit in extra marathons!  His talk felt a little wooden in places, as he was reading it from cards, but he needn’t have worried, as he had such a passion for the sport that I know he would have captivated the audience had he not been reading his notes.

The National Running Show - Steve Edwards

After quickly nipping out to change Oscar, Susie Chan – ultramarathoner extraordinaire – was next and I wasn’t disappointed.  Her talk was filled with tales of jungles, long distance races and her story of how she just fell into running in the first place.  I found it quite amusing that the nutritionist who had been talking on stage earlier that morning settled down into position near me at the front just as Susie went on to talk about her feasts of pizza on runs!

The National Running Show - Susie Chan

I wandered round some more stands to kill a little time, although a lot of stands had now sold out and were looking slightly bedraggled by this point.  A friend messaged to say that she was coming over to the NEC for an event later that evening, so Oscar and I went and grabbed dinner with her and her boyfriend over at Las Iguanas before Dan arrived to pick us up and head for home where I fitted in a quick nap before work.

Verdict: I’m really glad I went – there were some fantastic speakers with really inspiring stories.  If I hadn’t had Oscar with me I could have sat and listened to the talks all day.  Twice I headed up to ask questions – Jo Pavey and Susie Chan – and both times Oscar became fidgety with waiting and I had to leave again, so no celebrity selfies for me.  :(  I heard on the grapevine that next year The Running Show has signed up Paula Radcliffe, who I’m sure will be a fantastic head for the event.  She’s definitely somebody who I have always admired.  The event will also be moving to larger premises, so hopefully more exhibitors will be able to get on board to help provide more of a day out.

Did you go to The Running Show?
Who would you like to see provide a talk at a running event?

The good, the bad and marshaling fun

*Touch wood* but the start of my marathon/ultra training has been going really well.

I was never a big fan of speed sessions when I used to run them with my running club.  That’s no criticism.  I know it must be difficult to try and arrange a session each week to suit 10 or more runners, all training for different events.  But, I am finding it so, so satisfying ticking off speedwork sessions on my own.  I find that I can really focus on each mile whilst I am running it and am buzzing by the time I arrive back home, eager to share my consistent split times with Dan.  (Who couldn’t care less!)

Last week I had a set of 400s on my marathon race plan.  A one mile warm up followed by 400 metres at 8:20-8:40mm pace, with a 400m recovery as part of each set (repeat 12 times) and then a one mile cool down.  I was chuffed with my splits, and the session felt very manageable. (Strava workout link)

400s speedwork pace chart

My splits read as 8:30, 8:34, 8:28, 8:30, 8:22, 8:37, 8:29, 8:28, 8:35, 8:35, 8:32, 8:30.  All within the range they should have been, and leaving me feeling me so excited about my training – I struggled to get to sleep that night.

Wednesday night was the club trail run and I ran out on a slightly soggy but enjoyable 10k run with friends.

The rough pattern my training is going to fall into over the coming weeks is as follows:

Monday – rest day (off the back of 2, possibly 3 nights of work a rest day is required!)
Tuesday – speedwork (session will vary each week).
Wednesday – buggy run during the day (To get Oscar to sleep.  O goes to an afternoon group I’d like him to stay awake for when he would normally nap, and he falls asleep during a buggy run!) and trail run in the evening.
Thursday – tempo run (hopefully at running club as often as I can manage).
Friday – long run (Oscar is in nursery all day).
Saturday – parkrun/easy run.
Sunday – mid-length run (10 miles +).

This should fit nicely into my schedule, the only times I might have to change things around being when Dan works away from home during the week, resulting in me being unable to get a speed session or tempo run in as I will have no break from Oscar.
I also intend to keep up with my core work and physio sessions during as many days of the week as I can manage/remember/make time for.

Last week my training was a little out of sync as we ended up in A&E with Oscar in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  Both Dan and Oscar had been rather poorly since the weekend and Dan and I woke to Oscar having convulsions in the middle of the night which was incredibly scary, for both us, and him.  We spoke to 111 who advised us to give Calpol, a drink and to strip O down to cool him off.  The convulsions did stop after half an hour and we were able to put him back to bed, but when they began again an hour later we made the decision to rush him into A&E for a check over.  The doctor who saw him put the seizures down to Oscar having picked up a virus and then no longer being able to regulate his temperature – severely overheating and causing his body to go into shock.  He prescribed a mix of Ibuprofen and Calpol throughout the following day to help keep his temperature low and for us to keep an eye on him over the next couple of days.
It did take a couple of days, but luckily Oscar is fully back to his usual cheeky self again now.

So last week I moved my planned buggy run from the Wednesday to the Thursday and ran Oscar down for a little play in the park to cheer him up.  He loved it and was desperate to climb up and slide down the slide over and over again.  He started to kick up a bit of a fuss when I went to put him back in the buggy for the return journey until he saw that we would be passing dogs along the way.  (Oscar is obsessed with dogs, ducks and cows at the moment!)

Running Oscar to the park

When I woke on Friday I knew that I had whatever it was that the boys had had earlier in the week.  My throat hurt and I couldn’t stop coughing.  I had a 13 mile run on the plan for the day, and with Fridays being my only child-free day I was desperate to get out and run those miles.  I should have stayed home and written off the run for the day but I didn’t.  I was too stubborn and went out anyway.

It was a horrible run.  Despite barely being able to touch my lunch, (leaving most of it plated up in the fridge for another day) I felt nauseous and needed the toilet from the end of mile one.  The route I had planned ran past a toilet at mile 3 so I continued, but I knew a fair while before I got there that I would only be running as far as the Visitor Centre at the local lakes and back that day.

Rubbish run

An awful, awful run, but I did actually feel better for getting out at least and added 6 miles to my total for the week.

I headed to bed early on Friday night, as Saturday was going to be a busy one for me.

At 6:40am on Saturday morning another runner from my club – James, arrived to pick me up for the drive down to Uxbridge where we were due to marshal at the Country to Capital ultra for Go Beyond, along with two other runners from our club who we collected along the way.

James has also signed up for the South Downs Way 100 this year, so there was lots of training talk going on during the drive down!

Cassiobury parkrun

(Picture from the Cassiobury parkrun facebook page)

A week earlier James had suggested that we set off for our checkpoint a little earlier so that we may take in a parkrun on the way down.  Both Sally and I jumped at the chance to add to our parkrun tourism total, even though Sally currently has her arm in a sling!

Sally and I at Cassiobury parkrun

The course at Cassiobury parkrun was lovely and flat.  It consisted of two and a half laps around the park.  Marshals were super vigilant about keeping runners out of the cycle lane, as the park was a busy one and there had been reports of runners/cyclists getting knocked during the event in the past.  Even so, there were several runners who insisted on staying in the cycle lane, despite being shouted at, which was a shame.

Cassiobury parkrun

(Picture from the Cassiobury parkrun facebook page)

I felt a fair bit better than I had done the previous afternoon but still hadn’t dared to eat anything before leaving that morning, just in case it made me a) sick b) need to rush to the loo or c) both of the above.  I decided to just jog my way around the parkrun and enjoy a new course.  In actual fact I was fine with food again by Saturday though.

Cassiobury parkrun

(Picture from the Cassiobury parkrun facebook page)

Official time: 28:26
Position: 192/421
Gender position: 38/177
Age category position: 8/17

I had decided to wear my Country to Capital top from 2016 seeing as I would be marshaling the event later on that morning and ended up running the parkrun just behind a man pushing a double buggy who was wearing a Country to Capital top from 2017!  After getting my barcode scanned, I made my way over for a chat about C2C and future races we both had planned for this year.  He told me of the ‘Last Man Standing’ race he had entered.  An event of laps where you must complete each lap within an hour, or be timed out from the race.  The laps continue until you are the ‘last man standing’, with all other entrants timed out.  It sounded good!

Cassiobury parkrun was the 20th different parkrun event I have run (Bedford, Blickling, Corby, Daventry, Huntingdon, Ketterin, Kings Lynn, Linford Wood, Ludlow, March, Market Harborough, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Peterborough, Rugby, Rushmere, Sheringham, Wimpole Estate and Wolverhampton being the other 19!)  This means that I am now officially on the parkrun tourism table of fame*!  :)
* not it’s official title!!!

Once James, myself and Sally had all finished the parkrun we collected Paul from the sidelines (who had decided to sit this one out) and drove over to checkpoint three of the Country to Capital.  Country to Capital is a 45 mile race run along trails and the canal path from Wendover to Little Venice.  Checkpoint three is the ‘feeding station’ and at about mile 25 on the course.

There were six runners from our running club out on the course, and plenty of names we all recognised on the start list this year.

With delays to the crew van, we were rather concerned that it was going to be a bit hit and miss when it came to setting up our checkpoint station in time, but luckily the crew van arrived armed with the famous Go Beyond cake and lots of other goodies with just enough time for us to set up our feeding station.  We were soon joined by the partner of the guy sat in first place through checkpoint two, who then kindly kept us informed with his location using her phone tracker.  I always enjoy chatting with the crew of fast ultra runners and usually come away having learnt something.  It’s always handy to know how different runners like the stations to be presented too.

Two of our runners came through within the first fifteen runners (eventually finishing in 7th and 8th position), and I also recognised Cat Simpson – who went on to place as second female in the race.

One of our female runners, Helen, came through as fifth lady – a position she remained in until the end.

As checkpoint lead, being that I still wasn’t feeling 100%, I decided to place myself away from the food and instead by the chip timing base, jotting down runner numbers along with clock times as they came through.  I had another member of our club alongside me helpfully shouting out runner numbers as they passed, and the other three crew that I had travelled down that morning with helped runners to fill their drinks bottles, unpacked food as necessary and generally kept the place fairly clear during the event.

Checkpoint three of Country to Capital

Even though we were at a point more than halfway into the race, there never really seemed to be much of a lull and the day went by really quickly.  Four runners withdrew at our checkpoint and a handful of runners just scraped through before cut-off.
We spent thirty minutes or so desperately trying to hunt down a lost runner, but it turns out they had already headed back to the finish, having pulled from the event at the previous checkpoint.  Please runners, – if you run a race, let a marshal have your chip back and tell them you are pulling.  Preferably pull at an actual checkpoint as well, rather than between marshal points.  It makes our job much easier and we can usually provide a nice warm car, food and blankets to keep you comfy until transport arrives to ferry you to the finish.

Luckily, I hadn’t been working on the Friday night, but was due to work Saturday night, so on my return home after wolfing down the chicken tea I had instructed Dan to make over the phone I made my way to bed where I managed to grab a couple of hours sleep before heading in for the night shift.
All good practice at no sleep ready for the 100 in June!  😀

Do you chat to spectators at events?
What food do you like to see on a checkpoint?
Do you enjoy running speed sessions on your own?