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5

Jan

2020

Parkrun

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Running | No Comments »

I’ve known about parkrun for years, but since I’ve never really considered shorter distances my thing, and I tend to like the solitude of running alone with just my thoughts (or maybe a podcast!) I’ve never done one. This week however, my wife mentioned that she would like to give it a try and didn’t really want to go on her own the first time. As it happens, the kids were staying with their grandparents overnight which meant we would be child free on Saturday morning so we signed up and headed off to our local run at Heartlands in Cornwall for a 9am start.

My first parkrunIf you’re somehow unfamiliar, Parkrun is a movement that was started about 15 years ago in the US and how now spread across the glove. With over 1400 regular runs worldwide, it allows runners, joggers and walkers of all ages and abilities to just turn up and run a 5k every Saturday, completely for free. The events are timed, and results are emailed out later that day, and often photos are taken and shared on a social media group. The events are run entirely by volunteers, with the ethos that you “run a few, then volunteer one” and I have to say, I was extremely impressed. It felt very well organised, better in some regards than some of the paid 10k races I used to enter. The course was very well marked and marshalled, the volunteers and the runners were extremely friendly, and the overall vibe was one of positivity and encouragement.

It’s definitely “not a race” – the idea being that it’s very inclusive and the last walker is treated as being just important as the first runner over the line. Having said that, there’s definitely some friendly competition towards the front of the pack, and I overhead the work “personal best” or “PB” many times while runners were chatting before and after the event. I overtook a runner in a spint finish on the final straight, and his reaction was to shout out “You go buddy, finish strong!” and then congratulated me on my finish after we crossed the line. When my wife crossed the line she thanked me to, for getting her out of bed (not a morning person!) and encouraging her to run for the first time in quite a while – all in all, a successful and enjoyable first park run.

Carn Brea Castle

Carn Brea Castle

Now 5k wasn’t going to cut it in terms of distance for my Saturday training schedule, so while my wife jumped in the car to head back for a shower I donned a waterproof jacket and pack and ran back via the carns for a hilly, winding, wet and slippery extra 13km. The thick mist actually cleared as I reached the peak of Carn Brea giving me a great view of the castle and the surrounding countryside including a clear view over to St.Agnes which made me reaslise I’ve never ran from St.Agnes Beacon to Carn Brea or back… will have to work out a route and check the distance on Mapmyrun.com and sort that out!

By the time I got home, my parkrun email had arrived confirming a finish time of 21:48 which put me in 9th place out over 163. Not a bad first time and now I have a goal to beat next time. Checking my data on Strava confirmed what I though which was the first 2 -3 minutes passing slower runners had held me back quite a bit. I’m pretty sure if I start closer to the front next time I could easily get that down under the 21 minute mark, and since I’m doing some speedwork as part of my regular training now anyway, I think a goal of a sub-20 minute 5k/parkrun by the end of the year needs to be added to my list!

If you’ve never done a parkrun before I highly recommend giving it a go. You can sign up for free at www.parkrun.com then all you have to do is print off your barcode and turn up any time you have a free half our on a Saturday morning. We’ll definitely be doing more of them, and I’ll be signing up as an occasional volunteer as well to give something back!

 

2

Jan

2020

2020 – an Ultra Year!

By ActionGeek. Posted in Action, Running | No Comments »

While I’ve had “Complete an ultramarathon” on my list for a long time, 2019 was finally the year I got to cross it off. Wanting to build on that I decided not to sign up for 1 more in 2020, but for 3 of them!

First will be the Cousin Jack Ultra in February. An out and back on the Cornish coast path, starting and finishing at St.Ives with the turnaround at Cape Cornwall for a total of 35 miles. It will be the most exposed route I’ve done so far, and with a night time start the first couple of hours will be done in the dark with a head torch. I’ve been running with a head torch for years so that doesn’t bother me, but I don’t usually run on the coast path in the dark so I want to get some practice in before the event.

Next up is the Classic Quarter. This was actually one of the events that originally peaked my interest in ultra running. It starts at Lizard Point (the most southerly part of mainland UK) and follows the coast path for 44 miles to finish at Land’s End (the most westerly part). It’s a step up from my longest run so far which was 40 miles, is perfectly timed as a “training run” for event 3 of the year, and will likely bring back memories of rolling into Land’s End back in 2003 when I cycled the length of the UK from John O’Goats to Land’s End in 11 days. This one is in early June which builds perfectly into event 3…

The Plague! Part of the Roseland August Trail (RAT) running festival, last year I ran the Red Rat (20 miles) this time I’m skipping past the Black Rat 32 mile option and going straight to the 64 mile (100km) run. Starting at Porthpean (where all RAT runs including the red I ran last year) finish, it’s another out and back this time following a very jagged stretch of coastline south to St.Anthony’s Head and back. It starts at midnight so will be quite a few hours of running in the dark, and is a significant increase in distance so I need to be well prepared.

So – 35 miles, 44 miles, 64 miles, seems like a nice solid progression! I have to admit the thought of the 100k still makes me nervous, but that’s half the point isn’t it… if it was easy there would be no point. Competing my first ultra last year gives me confidence, and hopefully completing both the Cousin Jack and Classic Quarter in turn will only build that confidence further. I have what I think is a solid training plan in place (which will no doubt go out the window once or twice along the way when life throws spanners in the work) and I’m raring to go… let’s do 2020!

This is a fantastic short film about a runner’s first entry to the plague. I’ve already watched it twice, no doubt I’ll watch it a couple more times before the event it both gives me confience I can do it, and reminds me how tough it will be at the same time!