Well on the way to becoming a recognised parkrun tourist

There is a special page on the parkrun website which lists all parkrunners who have run 20 or more different parkrun events.  One of my aims for this year was to get onto this table, and I’ve been busy slogging away working out which new parkruns I can visit just lately.

I’m currently up to 92 parkruns at 17 different events, and I’ve loved seeing all the differences in the parkrun events I’ve been to.  I really must write a post at some point with all of my favourite elements of each parkrun as I’ve seen some great ideas this year which might come in handy for anyone setting up a new event.

I thought I only had my last three parkruns to write up, but it actually turns out I’m five behind now.

Annoyingly, I visited Wimpole Estate and Blickling when my phone was still broken so don’t have any pictures to share from those events.

Here goes…

parkrun #88 – Kettering
29th July

This was the first time I had been able to ‘run hard’ at a parkrun in a while.  Dan offered to come along and push Oscar round in the buggy so that I might test my legs out.

I misjudged my starting position though, realising as the chap stood next to me during the briefing raised his hand to indicate that he would be pacing 33 minutes!

I tried to shimmy myself further forward in the pack, but pacers were one of the last announcements made, and before I knew it, I was weaving in and out of other runners with a choppy stride trying to squeeze past others on the narrow path.  There went my potential good time!  Kettering parkrun has a long pontoon at the far end of the course that you run along twice, and I was very held up behind other runners during my first crossing as many of them slowed right down to feel less wobbly as the bridge came up to meet their pounding feet.  It is a very bizarre feeling as you run across with the bridge wobbling everywhere!

Kettering parkrun as a family of three

I think Dan realised just how difficult it could be running with the buggy and avoiding other runners during this run!  Still, I jogged back to see him finish in a respectable 34:07.  Oscar was busy chewing on his giraffe, which he then shared with his swimming buddy, whose Dad was marshaling at one of the corners towards the end of the run.

Official time: 27:30
Position: 94/315
Gender position: 22/145
Age category position: 3/12

parkrun #89 – Wolverhampton
5th August

One of Dan’s best friends got married at the start of August.  Dan was one of the ushers so headed back for last minute wedding details (and drinking) on the Friday evening, leaving Oscar and I to drive across the following morning.  As the wedding was held near to Dan’s parents’ house in the West Midlands and the wedding service wasn’t to be until the early afternoon I jumped on the chance to get some more parkrun tourism in, planning on showering and changing at Dan’s parents’ house after the run.

The Wolverhampton course is three laps around the outside of West park.  I’ve been to the park many times as Dan has often parked there when he goes to watch the football at Molineux on a weekend.

Another runner helpfully pointed me in the direction of the start when I arrived.  The first thing to note about the Wolverhampton parkrun is that everybody had really strong Wolverhampton accents!  I’m glad I’ve spent lots of time around Dan’s family and friends lately because otherwise I’m not sure I would have understood too much of the briefing! 😉

I had been asked to start at the back, as I had Oscar.  I understand why parkrun events ask buggy runners to start at the back, but I do think some of the responsibility of placing yourself and buggy should lay with the runner, especially on a course with laps, as you are much more likely to end up clipping somebody if you are frequently overtaking others with the buggy than if you were to settle in to the correct starting position to begin with.

The first lap was tough with so much overtaking, but by the second lap I could easily move around the narrow path without problem.  I was really shocked how few runners there were actually.  Wolverhampton is a massive city, but with just 266 runners, this parkrun is actually one of the smaller parkruns I’ve visited, especially when it comes to relative size to location.

The nice thing about a lapped course is that you see the same marshals several times.  One marshal kept updating me on how awake Oscar looked, and they loved that he just propped both feet up on his front bar and chilled out for the entirety of the run!Wolverhampton parkrun with Oscar in the buggyAt one point, Oscar caught a falling leaf, and found it the best thing ever!  He was so excited and kept squealing away in his buggy! Wolverhampton parkrun with Oscar in the buggyI ended up with my fastest buggy parkrun time despite the slow start, which was a nice surprise!

Official time: 30:39
Position: 166/266
Gender position: 39/102
Age category position: 7/11

parkrun #90 – Wimpole Estate
19th August

I had a free Saturday morning and had hoped to get in another new parkrun.  A pregnant friend contacted me the day before to see if I fancied running a parkrun the next morning.  I said yes, on the condition that it was a new-to-me one, and so we made the hour-long journey to Wimpole Estate.

Somebody I work with regularly runs at Wimpole Estate, and I knew of a few runners from Twitter who occasionally made it over for this event too.  All had warned me of the hill out on the course!

I had Oscar in the buggy for this run, and bumped into Katie with her little one, Flo, who I have only spoken to via Twitter previously.  Katie’s husband would be the one with the buggy that week, and she filled me in on buggy tips for the course, and at what point the hill would appear!

I vowed to run the entire course with the buggy, and thinking I had already gone up ‘the hill’ decided that it was actually a fairly easy route, despite the long, thick grass underfoot.  I soon realised that the hill was yet to come though, and my vow to run the whole course was almost thwarted here, as it seemed everybody around stopped to walk the hill.  I took Oscar off-track, onto one wheel briefly, head down and continued to push him up the steep climb.

We made it to the top and enjoyed a lovely view before rocketing back down the other side.  Very glad I took Katie’s advice to tuck my hand in the handlebar loop and keep a tight grip here!

I don’t have any pictures of the hill, but Maria has one on her blog.

Oscar and I at Wimpole Estate parkrun{Picture taken from the Wimpole Estate parkrun Facebook page}

At the bottom the other side there were several cattle, but marshals among them to make sure they didn’t wander on course.  One was stood right behind a parkrun sign and from a distance it genuinely looked as though the sign had been pinned to the cow!

Katie and husband were there to cheer me through the finish which was nice, and I then waited for my friend to finish her run, before we headed to the café for cheese scones and hot chocolate.  It was the first time I’ve run parkrun with a friend in a long while and I’ve missed my post parkrun cake shop visits!

Official time: 34:57
Position: 316/396
Gender position: 115/166
Age category position: 10/16

parkrun #91 – Blickling
2nd September

My fastest parkrun since having Oscar!

My Dad volunteered to come along and push Oscar around the course in his buggy and act as support for my run this week.  The course is ideal for support, as there is just short of two full laps of the section of the park we ran.  This meant I passed Dad and Oscar twice, although Dad nearly missed me the first time, despite my mad waving!

There were quite a few other tourists stood alongside me at the new runners’ briefing, as shown by their apricot tops.  I think I’m going to ask for an apricot top for Christmas.  I’d like to have it printed up with my home parkrun, although I’m not really sure I can count Northampton as my home event any more.  I hardly ever seem to run there now!

The course at Blickling starts on a slight uphill.  I had been unsure how to approach the run, but after a strong start, with a low 8:xx constantly showing on my watch despite the uphill, I decided to just go for it and run hard the whole way round.

It’s a very lovely out-in-the-open course run along tracks with vast areas of grass all around.  There is a small section where you run through the trees towards the end of the lap, but this was really pretty.  I guiltily passed a chap pushing a double buggy containing older children who were demanding snacks at this point on my second lap!

It felt so nice to run at a harder pace again.  I’ve had to take Oscar along with me for the majority of parkruns since he was born.  Although, as Dan now has a season ticket for the football again this year, I think he might want to start spending a bit of time with Oscar on Saturday mornings before heading back for the football each week so I might see some more harder runs before the end of the year.  I’m sure I can’t be too far off that 26:xx parkrun time again!

Official time: 27:10
Position: 96/197
Gender position: 22/88
Age category position: 2/8

parkrun #92 – March
14th October

I’ve been traveling back four times a week to see my family since mid-September.  My days tend to be Monday, Tuesday (with a stay-over in between), Thursday and then Saturday.  Evenings only whilst I was still at work last month.  It took me until now though to realise that I was missing out on some serious parkrun tourism opportunities on my drive back on a Saturday!

Last weekend I was torn between Kings Lynn and March for the location of my parkrun.  Either could tie in with my journey back to Norfolk.  In the end though, Oscar dictated the March event, as he took too long to eat his breakfast in the morning, and March is closer to us than Kings Lynn so at least I knew we would arrive in time!

Oscar at March parkrun

I ended up actually arriving quite early and set Oscar up in his buggy, pushing him around what looked like a rather small park as my warm up.  It felt really chilly as I got out of the car, but the temperature soon started to rise and I was glad I had decided to just wear a short sleeved t-shirt rather than any extra layers.

I had hurriedly checked both the Kings Lynn and March parkrun websites the previous evening to see that they were buggy suitable.  I had failed to spot the mention of the four laps at the March event though, each including a set of ten steps!

The steps at March parkrunThey don’t look very steep here, but…TEN STEPS!

March parkrunAfter a walked lap of the park (where we saw a rat run out in front of us and do a little dance, much to Oscar’s amusement!) I hung around the meeting point waiting for things to get underway.  I did spot somebody else with a running buggy, although they had a much older child inside.  There was a new runner briefing, which I took Oscar over to.  After this, the guy who had the other buggy came over to say ‘hi’ and to share his tips for the best way of getting up the bank alongside the steps with the buggy.  He suggested starting climbing the bank a little way before the steps, as it was less steep and less likely I would tip my child out of the buggy!  I hoped that people didn’t think I was taking a short cut each time, but nobody seemed to shout me back at least.  I still ran all the way over to the top of where the steps were before turning back on myself.

The picture below is taken from a video clip of the first lap which was posted on the March parkrun Facebook page.  You can see me to the left of the shot making a getaway with Oscar!

Oscar and I at March parkrun

Mainly people shouted out well dones for getting round with the buggy which was nice.  The marshals were all lovely and so helpful when I spoke to them.  It was a really friendly parkrun.

About half of the route was run along the grass, which was quite rutted in places.  The marshals had used mini cones to place on any rabbit holes which runners might trip or fall from, which I thought was quite a good idea.  The other half of each lap was run along the tarmacked pavement you can see in the above screenshot.

I started from the very back this week again, although quickly overtook several runners near to the start.

Although only a small parkrun, as well as running pacers, there was a run 1min, walk 1min pacer and a run 2min, walk 1min pacer, which I thought was a fantastic way to give non-runners or beginners the confidence to start visiting parkrun.Oscar at March parkrunOnce completed and scanned in, we took a quick visit to the nearby swimming pool to change Oscar before completing our trip to Norfolk.Oscar and I at March parkrunOfficial time: 33:49
Position: 97/132
Gender position: 43/66
Age category position: 5/7

Do you tie parkrun visits in with trips at the weekend?
Have any of the parkruns you have run contained steps?
Do you have an apricot top?
How many different parkrun events have you visited?

Ugh, a new PB and cake

dsfI’m pretty sure that the three of us came away with food poisoning last weekend. We’d taken Oscar out to a large indoor play area on Sunday afternoon. He was having so much fun, and we were having so much fun watching him enjoy himself that we completely didn’t realise how quickly the afternoon had flown by until Oscar started to whine that he was hungry, and we realised restaurant feeding options were minimal in the area.
It was a quick trip to the nearest one we could find, where Oscar sleepily, but thoroughly enjoyed chicken skewers with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob. Dan also went for chicken, and I demolished a mushroom burger.
Oscar with cornBecause Oscar was so tired he left quite a bit of his meal, which is unheard of for him, so we got it boxed up to take home for his lunch the following day.

The next morning, Dan groggily appeared downstairs for breakfast. By that point Oscar had already been through two nappies, and was about to fill his third. Dan managed to force some cereal down but Oscar just moved his breakfast around his tray looking rather sorry for himself.
Fast forward to lunch and, having not yet sussed out the link between the meal from the previous night and our poorly household, I pulled out the remainder of Oscar’s meal for him to have for lunch. When he once again, did not seem too fussed about eating any of it, I placed it onto my plate instead. Sweet potato fries are my favourite!

Ugh.

They are not my favourite any more. And neither is chicken.  :(

I spent the start of last week feeling rough, with a painful crampy stomach and zero energy. I sensibly decided to take a few days off from running until I fully recovered.  It was frustrating not getting out to run during the first week of the Summer holidays, but I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to hit any of my training paces, and would feel rubbish for attempting to do so in the first place.

The Thursday before had been our club’s annual Pre-Welly 5 BBQ run.  Always held 10 days before our club 5 mile road race, the idea is to check over the course, practice our marshaling and to give everybody a chance to run the event who might not be able to on the day if they were marshaling instead.

After a couple of rubbish BBQ runs in previous years I had a great run last year and set a new 5 mile PB of 45:55.  Although it’s not an official race – but instead more of a social event for our club, it is run on the race route, so I’m counting it as a PB!

Having run really strongly since starting my training using the Hanson’s Marathon Method, and having already achieved PBs in 6 mile and 10k events over recent weeks, I was hoping for another PB this year.

It didn’t start well when I arrived feeling knackered and hungry though.  I instantly had doubts for the run and began to talk myself out of it.

When we first set off I looked around and instantly felt like I had placed myself way too far forward, with runners usually much faster than me.  But my heart rate monitor told me that I could run faster, so I carried on.

Pre Welly 5 BBQ run

I chatted to a couple of people early on in the first mile.  Again, projecting my doubts about a decent time to them.  Kev came alongside me and commented on how well I had been running just lately.  I told him that I was hoping for a good time again that day – perhaps something around 9 minute mile pace.  I could see him trying to work out the math!  We spent several minutes talking before he nipped into a bush following the pre-run pint of Guinness he’d enjoyed in the bar before setting off!

I had sat behind the same people for the whole run until we hit the slight hill at mile 3.5.  Here, still feeling strong, I managed to gradually pull past other runners one by one.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold a full on conversation any more, and this ended up being my slowest mile at 9:07.  (So happy that I can say a mile at this pace was my slowest mile now!)

In fact, I ran really consistently for the whole run.  My mile splits were 9:01, 9:06, 8:49, 9:07, 8:50 and then 7:20mm pace for the final 0.09 recorded on my Garmin.

I overtook a couple more runners who I never would have been able to overtake normally in the final mile and then opened up my stride to power through to the finish.  As I headed towards the finish line I struggled to remember my exact PB time, but knew I was in with a shot of hitting it, and so commented to the Group 4 running coach as I came alongside him, who then insisted we run through the finish holding hands.

Pre Welly 5 finish line pic

Watch stopped, 45:33.  A full 24 seconds faster than my previous best!

Despite not really looking it in this pic, I was completely comfortable and was barely breathing heavily at all, able to chat and laugh with other runners whilst heading down the finishing chute.  I guess this picture must have been taken literally as I pulled back from a run to a walk.  You can see the official finish line drawn on the floor just behind me.

Although initially disappointed that I didn’t come very close to 45 minutes, having set myself a rough target of 9 minute miling, I soon cheered up when I checked my watch to discover that with the slight over-distance run I had actually ran an average of 8:57 minute miling!  Hanson’s is definitely doing me some good!

For the first time since the BBQ run has been taking place, we didn’t actually have any BBQs.  Instead, a pizza van.  So I waited in line for my turn to demolish a hot, veggie pizza and sit nursing a drink at the bar.  Very satisfying mid-week and with just one day left of the school term.

So that was last week – poorly sick following a good 5 mile race.  This weekend was a little different again.

I started off this weekend by running Kettering parkrun with Laura whilst pushing Oscar in the buggy.

Kettering parkrun start(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

This was parkrun #87 for me and I completed it in 34:25.  I should really count the amount of parkruns Oscar has been to.  He must be coming up to 20 now?
{Position: 196/255 Gender position: 67/108 Age category position: 10/12 }

Kettering parkrun midrun

(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

Having come right from the very back of the run and Kettering being a very difficult course to overtake with a buggy, I’m fine with that.  Oscar stayed wide awake for the whole run, gripping onto his Sophie giraffe toy.  Good job, because I didn’t really want to have to keep stopping to pick her up along the way!

I’m hoping that at some point during August I will be able to run a parkrun hard and see what time I am currently capable of.  It’s been a while since I raced a parkrun and I’d like to think I’m a little quicker now.

In the afternoon I headed over to The Garden Deli with Laura and Steph for cake and a catch up.  The cake there is a good.  I went for this lemon and ginger sponge.  I don’t even really like lemon flavoured things.  I can’t stand it when bartenders add a lemon slice in your drink when you go out, but this looked too good not to try.

Lemon and ginger sponge cake

The drinks are also amazing!  I went for a strawberry and vanilla fruit crush and was not disappointed!

Strawberry and vanilla fruit crush

Then yesterday was the actual Wellingborough 5 race.

For the last few years my role at the race has been to direct cars down the driveway and onto the car park before the race begins.  I then take photos of the runners along the first 100 metres of the race, again in the final 200m as well as ensure runners turn safely into the final section along the field at the very end of the race.  There were a couple of other marshals with me at the end this year, which meant that I could take pictures without worrying about where runners were headed.

I love taking photos of the event.

Last year a runner suffered a cardiac arrest during the race and was air lifted to hospital, so it was a sigh of relief when all runners were back safe and sound this year.  The club invited Tom, the runner who had been hospitalised following the race last year to our BBQ run the other week, and he finished at a run/walk along with his wife and one of our members who happened to be a doctor who had stopped and helped him on the day.  He finally got the chance to finish the race route!

Wellingborough 5 trophies

This year I also took pictures of all of the prize winners.  Prize giving always seems to go on for ages.  I couldn’t even dream of ever being good enough to receive a prize at a race.

Welly 5 winnersHow did you spend your weekend?

A parkrun catchup

It’s been a while since I posted any details from the parkruns I’ve run.  Over the past few months I’ve gradually ticking off more parkruns, getting ever closer to that magic number 100.  I have just 16 left to go now before I can apply for my 100 runs t-shirt.  I haven’t made much of a dent in achieving the parkrun tourist status this year though.  In total I have run 12 different events, so still have another 8 to go before I can buy my cow cowl.

I did just find an amazing parkrun tourism tool which has whet my appetite for more tourism.  It allows you to enter your parkrun ID and postcode and then shows you the nearest 10/20/30 parkruns to where you are based.  You can also choose to not include those parkruns which you have already run so you can see where your best options are to head to next.

parkrun tourism toolI’ve already run the nine closest parkruns to me so it looks like Rutland Water will be featuring on my results list next!  Wimpole Estate is another one I need to tick off in the near future as well.  I’ve had lots of good feedback about the event just lately.

Here is where I’ve been on my six most recent parkruns…

parkrun #79 – Northampton
6th May

Northampton parkrun is a great course for running with the buggy.  The paths are wide and although it is a super crowded course at the start, the numbers toward the back soon start to thin out.  There are wide grass verges for most of the distance, so even if I feel rather uneasy about pushing the buggy along the path at the start of the run for fear of clipping somebody’s heels, I can always stick to the safer option of running on the sidelines until the crowds start to thin.

Northampton parkrun with the buggyI use my parkruns with Oscar to catch up on all the gossip(!)Northampton parkrun with the buggy(Photos by Martyn Haworth posted on the Northampton parkrun Facebook page)
Official time: 32:55
Position: 459/609
Gender position: 148/256
Age category position: 21/36

Magic Mile #4 – Northampton
6th May

I completely ran out of time to write about this event back in May but for the first time ever I WAS FIRST LADY across the finish line!  Something which I am sure will never happen again and was purely down to the luck of no fast ladies being around to run the mile that day.
I am counting it though.  I didn’t even realise until the results were published the following day that I had been the first female through the finish!  Granted, there weren’t a huge number of runners.  But first lady = first lady…right?!

Official time: 8:09
Position: 18/29
Gender position: 1/7

I finished in the exact same time I had during my previous Magic Mile back in March, which was much better than I thought I would do.  My legs had a marathon and a 50 mile ultra in them from recent weeks, and I had completed very little work at any speed since the previous event.  I would like to think I could beat this time now though.

parkrun #80 – Corby
13th May

So, when I said that Oscar-parkruns are used to catch up on gossip, I haven’t actually stuck solely to this lately.  Most of my parkruns have been gossip runs!  An easy run at chatty pace to keep the legs ticking over and to keep my social side happy on a Saturday morning.
Official time: 29:40
Position: 64/131
Gender position: 16/58
Age category position: 5/8

parkrun #81 – Sheringham
3rd June

I woke up to this on the Saturday morning…

Bruised knee

My knee had been a little sore to kneel on for the past few days, but had not been sore when walking or running and there was no evidence of any bruising or damage at all.
…until the Saturday morning.  The day before I was due to run the Shires and Spires 35 mile ultra.
I quickly snapped this shot and posted it on my Facebook wall alongside a brief paragraph detailing the above information.  Immediately afterwards I switched off my phone and chose to ignore any advice given until after I’d tested out my knee at Sheringham parkrun.  (True runner stubbornness right there!)

The Sheringham parkrun is tough – there’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’ at mile 3 and the course is run through woodland, over lots of lumps and bumps!

I ended up hanging around for my Dad in the morning as he was going to take Oscar for a walk in the buggy so that I could run child-free for a change.  He made us late though and the engine was barely off in the car before I was yanking the running buggy out of the back of the car, giving Dad the fastest lesson in how to steer and brake with Oscar strapped safely inside and then legging it down to the start line.  I wasn’t the only one and despite several minutes of flat-out running I still managed to turn the final corner just in time to hear ‘3-2-1′ and see the runners shooting off into the distance.  The woman who had been a few metres in front of me slumped into a defeated walk at this point.  I eventually caught the back runners and began picking runners off along the way.

When I ran through the finish, Dad was there eagerly telling me that he must have run at least three miles with Oscar as he had walked so fast during the last half hour.  I did point out to him that parkrun is only 3.1 miles, of which I had run all the way and that he had been there at the finish waiting for me to cross the line, so I doubted that he had walked as far as 3 miles, but I don’t think I got through to him!

Official time: 31:20
Position: 108/201
Gender position: 25/73
Age category position: 3/6

I had several responses to my Facebook knee query by the time I turned my phone back on again, including a message from a physio associated with the club who informed me that it was very easy to catch the structures in the knee without really noticing at the time.  Even though it was most likely only a very small catch in the knee, because I kneel on the floor so much as a new Mum it ends up looking much worse as the bleeding inside the knee spreads over much greater knee surface from repeated kneeling with Oscar.  Because Dan had been away during the week I had bathed Oscar alone every evening, likely putting the extra pressure on my kneecap, distributing the blood further across my knee surface.  (I went on to run 35 miles the next day without issue.)

parkrun #82 – Corby
10th June

Corby parkrun with Laura Laura was volunteering at the track in Corby again, so I decided to head over and join her for a social chatty run before her shift began.Corby parkrun with LauraOfficial time: 30:27
Position: 95/182
Gender position: 20/81
Age category position: 3/13

parkrun #83 – Kettering
17th June

Several runners from my club were planning on running over to Kettering for the parkrun and then back again to make up their long run for the weekend.  Since having Oscar I can’t really commit to running long runs at the weekend with others so I said I would meet them over there for the parkrun part of the run.  Running the group long runs isn’t fair on Dan, or Oscar whilst he is in nursery all week (since I’ve been back at work).  I want to see some of them both at the weekend!

Kettering parkrun with OscarOfficial time: 32:25
Position: 230/367
Gender position: 83/176
Age category position: 9/14

A lady from Oscar’s ‘Stay and Play’ group was there running without her baby and I chatted to her briefly at the start, and again as I passed her out on the course.  She muttered at me as I ran past her pushing O in the final mile, but I hope us running past helped her to achieve the course PB she achieved a few minutes later. :)

parkrun #84 – Huntingdon
24th June

I still hadn’t fully made up my mind as to which parkrun I was headed to by Saturday morning last week.  I had put a shoutout on Facebook for parkrun recommendations but despite several suggestions, none really took my fancy.  I set out intending to run Kettering parkrun but when it came to it, my body went into work-mode when I got into my car and I found myself heading in the direction of the school I work at, so Huntingdon became the new plan.  I hadn’t run the course in a while anyway, and I knew there would be some new, pretty trails for me to run the extra three miles I needed to tack onto my parkrun that morning in order to make up the six miles on my training plan for the day.

I ran the parkrun much harder than intended in the end.  I should really be running parkruns at 10:50-11:40mm pace, as Saturdays are one of my ‘easy run’ days.  I’m finding it so hard not to push myself around others when I’m running solo though.  I really must make an effort to run slowly this coming weekend.  It’s much more important to make it to the start line of the marathon in October at the moment than to cut a few seconds from my parkrun time.

At the end I got my barcode scanned and was about to start jogging back to the car when a familiar face looked up from the grass and waved hi.  I automatically smiled in response and returned the greeting, whilst racking my brains as to who this person was!  Lately I’ve chatted to several people at events who I follow/follow me on Instagram/Twitter, but I couldn’t place this lady at all.  Later that day I eventually worked out that she was one of the TAs from my school.  I just hadn’t connected her with running, as I have always seen her in a school environment before!

Official time: 28:53
Position: 157/297
Gender position: 37/118
Age category position: 3/14

Have you seen people you know from outside of running at events before?
What is your parkrun tourism total?

Weeks 1 and 2 of the Hanson’s Marathon Plan

I have about ten half written race recaps and reviews in the Drafts folder of my blog that I’m gradually working my way through!

Today though, I want to recap the first two weeks of my marathon training plan.

In my last blog post I announced that I intended on following the Hanson’s Marathon Method* to work towards a sub 4h 30m marathon at Mablethorpe this October.  My current marathon PB is 4:54:08, but I have always felt that I should be capable of a much quicker time.  The year I did achieve my PB was after following a specific training plan (on the back of a 70 mile race) and I loved the structure that the plan gave.

Hansons Marathon Method book

This will be my first time working through the Hanson’s Marathon Method plan and although I plan to stick to the scheduled paces and runs as closely as possible, I will definitely be doing some day-swapping, and cutting back on the miles during the early weeks as necessary.  The first week of training began the day after I ran a 35 mile ultramarathon, so I let my legs off a little bit(!)

The paces I’ve chosen are targeted towards a 4h 15m marathon time.  I will be aiming for anything under 4h 30m at Mablethorpe in October.  In the weeks before starting the plan I tested out a few of the sessions and found that I can run the paces required for the 4h 15m target time comfortably, and so I plan on continuing with the slightly faster speeds to give myself a little leeway time on the day.  If I need to knock them back a little later on in the plan, then I will look to do so.

Week 1 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day scheduled due to racing an ultra the previous day)
Tuesday – Banbury 5 (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Friday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Saturday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 8m easy (10:50-11:40mm)

Week 1 actual: (4 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Off
The first week back at work and juggling sending Oscar to nursery and picking him up in the evenings was harder than I thought it would be.  A 4:15am get-up time is never fun, although this week I’ve managed to slide things around in order that I can set my alarm for 5am instead.  I’ve been pushing it to get in to work on time each morning though.  I arrived home on Tuesday night absolutely exhausted and within five minutes of announcing that I would not be driving the 55 miles to Banbury I fell asleep on the sofa.  Right call made.
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 5.8m at 10:56mm pace.
A lovely chatty run out round the streets of Wellingborough with Laura and Steph before the running club committee meeting.

Friday – 5.3m at 10:41mm pace.
Saturday – Corby parkrun at chatty pace.
Corby parkrun with LauraI headed to Corby parkrun with Laura for a change of scenery.
[Official time:
30:27 Position: 95/182 Gender position: 20/81 Age category position: 3/13]
Sunday
– 3.79m at 11mm pace.
It was 9:30pm before I even got out of the door on Sunday evening.  Dan and I had spent all day with Oscar at an Open Farm day in Peterborough.  It was lovely to have the day out as a family, and we continued tag-teaming for Oscar’s evening routine.  When he was in bed, it was a quick rush round the house to tidy and clean and put the washing on for the following day before I could even get changed for my run.  Nearly 4 miles wasn’t the 8 I had in the calendar, but it was definitely better than no miles.

Week 2 planned: (6 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Harborough 5 (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – 7m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Thursday – 8x600m (8:20-8:27mm), 400m rec (12:20-12:30mm)
Friday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Saturday – 6m easy/buggy parkrun at chatty pace
Sunday – 10m long (10:29mm)

Week 2 actual: (5 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Harborough 5
Oscar was overtired when I picked him up from nursery, and wouldn’t let me put him down long enough to get changed to run or for me even go to the toilet.  As soon as Dan was back from work I had to madly rush around the house to get all of my bits together in time.
Annoyingly, as soon as I arrived (three minutes before the start and desperately needing to pee) my Garmin flashed to say that the battery was low and by the time the gun went, there was nothing left at all on the display.  I’d planned on running to heart rate, but in actual fact I am guessing that my first three miles were run at parkrun PB pace.  I then got a stitch and had to walk for a stint as it was so painful!  I’ve not had a stitch in years!  I had a rough fourth mile, but overtook several people in mile 5 to finish in 47m 32s.
Harborough 5 Garmin timeWednesday – Off
We had a carpet fitter coming to measure our bedrooms on Thursday evening after I returned from nursery pickup.  By the time our house was looking as presentable as a house occupied by two full-time working parents and an eight month old whirlwind can look, it was close to 11pm, I was pretty knackered and had no intentions of heading out for 7 miles.
Thursday – 8x600m, 400m rec
1.5m warmup at 11-12mm pace (11:09mm)
8:21, 12:24, 8:26, 2:25, 8:32, 11:57, 8:20, 12:26, 8:30, 11:54, 8:24, 12:09, 8:24, 12:18, 8:23, 12:41
1.5m cooldown at 11-12mm pace (10:59mm)
I loved, loved, loved this session!  I have always loved runs where I have to meet (achievable) set paces for each split and this run reminded me of that.  I managed to teach myself how to set up paces for split distances on my watch and my Garmin beeped every time I was running too slow or too quickly which took the guesswork out of my pacing.
Friday – Off
Run was replaced with sleeping on the sofa by 7pm.  Two weeks into my return to work, super early morning starts and organising an extra person every day had definitely taken it’s toll by this point.
Saturday – buggy parkrun (in 32m 25s) and 4.01m easy (10:52mm) to make up a little for the lack of run on Friday.
Both runs were incredibly hot!
Kettering parkrun with OscarI got quite a few comments from other runners when I ran past them up the hill whilst pushing a buggy!
[Official time: 
32:25 Position: 230/367 Gender position: 82/173 Age category position: 9/14]
Sunday
– 8.09m (10:26mm pace)
Although I was nearly two miles short of the planned distance for Sunday, I was incredibly chuffed with how close I was to my target paces, and especially chuffed with how consistent I ran for miles 3-7 of the run.

Long run consistent split timesBecause (once again) I left it really late to head out on my run, (it was 8:50pm before I headed out the door!) I needed to cut the run short slightly in order to get round and ready for school the following day.

So what have I discovered during the first fortnight of my Hanson’s Marathon Method training?

  • I am loving the set plan with exact paces to follow (especially when it comes to speedwork and long run sessions).  It makes planning for the week so easy.  I know exactly how far I should be running, and at exactly what pace.
  • I spend most of the time in the build up to each run feeling incredibly guilty that I am running instead of doing housework or seeing my husband.  (I tend to run late at night after Oscar has gone to bed so it doesn’t impact on time spent with him.)  I need to stop faffing and just get out and get the full run done as soon as I hand Oscar over to Dan for him to put to bed.  I knew that this plan required for high mileage before I began.  Things will definitely be easier once I finish school for the Summer at the end of July and I feel like I have more time again.
  • If I cut a run short because I’m feeling guilty, I end up feeling cheated as I haven’t completed the run I intended, but I didn’t spend quality time at home either.  The aim for this week is to make sure that no runs are cut short!

Do you enjoy sticking to a training plan?
How many days do you tend to run each week?