Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Riddlesdown parkrun forty-five


The week leading up to event 45 saw me increase my training by a tiny amount and I can report that both hamstrings were still feeling fine. Including the parkrun I have my total mileage up to 17km this week, which is about the same as what I'd like to be at for my long run. Patience is going to be the key ingredient in having a successful transition from the ups and downs of the last six months to a fully recovered body that is able to reach the dizzy heights (and beyond?) of last years peak.

Regardless of how much training I do during the week, the parkrun serves the purpose of letting me gauge exactly how the hamstrings are feeling. I have been pushing hard in recent weeks and I seem to be turning a corner. As I mentioned earlier, it's the patience part of it that is the key - I woke the day after parkrun with a burning desire to go out and run. However, I am forcing myself to have rest days between runs at the moment. Or at the very least - rest days either side of a hard run, especially the day after.

Pushing the above aside for now, here's what happened at parkrun:


The weather over the days leading up to the run had been dominated by rain, this had left the course pretty wet and there were puddles-a-plenty around the course. The worst being a path-blocking lake that had formed just before the half-way point. We've had puddles here before, but in the past there had always been a tiny foothold or two on the edge of the path that enabled the runner to pass without dipping into the water. There were no such footholds on this occasion.

During the pre-run briefing we were given the option to take a diversion around the water feature by leaving the path and running around the bushes.


Today I returned to my usual spot at the back of the pack, where I was joined by Mark, Chris and Paul. We were dispatched and all set off at our respective paces. Chris, who is in great form at the moment, flew off in front of me and although I kept him in sight for a while, he soon became a dot on the horizon. Mark started slower but soon reeled me in and left me for dust!

The trail section had held onto some of the water from the recent heavy rain, but the puddles here were patchy and there was enough room to dance around them if you felt the need - which I did.


I had opted to wear my gloves but by the two kilometre point had whipped them off, a few seconds later, as if by magic, Nicki appeared and offered to look after them until the end. Thank you!

Next up was the blocked path, on approaching it I considered the options. In the end there was only one real choice for me, and as I passed the point of no return I started wondering what route to take through the puddle. I moved to the left and splashed through. The shoes picked up some water but not enough to trouble me for the second half of the run.


As I reached the approach to Condon corner there was a loose dog that seemed very interested in the runners ahead of me, so I slowed down until I was walking. I passed the dog and its owner without incident and eased back into a jog.


Once back in the trail section, a runner that I had passed a while back had caught up with me (that's what happens when you stop running I guess) and he pushed on in front. Once I had regained my rhythm, I started my attempt to move back into my previous position. The puddles slowed us both down, but I think he was slowed more by them because I found myself getting closer to him. Then at the end of the trail we were both weaving around the puddles. He must have lost concentration for a split second and pulled up to avoid running through quite a large puddle.


I continued on at my pace and came out onto the last section. This part of the course was waterlogged in places, so the main focus was on finding the firmest and driest sections.

Before I knew it I was on the final straight, over the line and presented with the number 12 finishing token. The time on my watch was 21:40. I'm pleased with my performance, given that the conditions were not ideal and I lost a bit of time around the dog.


It took a while to recover, but once I had, I took a photo of the finish area to use as my #parkrun photo for the day using instagram. The official photos were taken by Pete and Nicki, the rest of the set is well worth a look. It's over on the Riddlesdown flickr page.

After that I stood with Chris and had a chat while we clapped and cheered the other runners as they made their way along the final straight.


Once all runners were home, we proceeded to the Horseshoe for the usual coffee and results combo. This week there were some awesome chocolate brownies, made by Fiona, to nibble on. Then lots of F1 chat with Chris. We didn't stay for quite as long as the last few weeks and were back in the car by just after 2pm.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Riddlesdown parkrun forty-four


Every Saturday morning before leaving home I run through the same check-list to make sure I am fully prepared for parkrun. I do not wear my running shoes to drive in so there is always a risk that I could forget them, then there are the post-run snacks and water. Also, my phone (for GPS tracking) and the armband that holds it. At the moment the weather is still on the chilly side so I must remember my gloves. Then the most important thing - My barcode! I keep one in my bag, one in the car, and one in a key ring attached to my car keys.

All things accounted for, we got the green light to travel the 25 miles to Riddlesdown. There were a few spots of rain as we drove along.

This week we arrived slightly earlier than usual and parked in our usual space. It was a bit chilly and I couldn't face removing my sweatshirt, so I left it onfor as long as possible before starting the run. Nicki kindly offered to take it from me at the last minute and hold onto it until the end.

Glancing across the field to check the leaders positions for the report [photo: Gill Hallson]

Instead of starting from the back I decided to mingle with everyone else in the start funnel. Morgan said his bits and pieces and sent us on our way. The rain that had threatened during our journey never materialised, and the run continued under dry conditions, with just a little wind.

Initially I had a slow start, but soon picked up my pace and got settled. Soon after, I felt a stitch coming on, this time it was on my left side and low down, I kept the pace steady and plunged my fingers into the stitch to attempt to rid myself of it. It partly worked, but it never really disappeared.

Just over half-way round I caught up with the lady with the dog. She quite often runs with it, and although I am not that comfortable around loose dogs, I trusted that this one is extremely used to being around runners and posed no risk.

Me and the dog that accompanied me through most of my run [photo: Gill Hallson]

I stayed right behind them until we reached the 4.5km point, I then upped the pace until I reached the finish line. This week's finishing time was on-par with my recent times at 21:31. A stitch-free run would still put me close to or just under 21 minutes, but that's probably about it for me at the moment.

The big thing for me this week was that I was writing the event report (my third time), each time I have done it I have tried to vary the style slightly. This time I went for a more standard style of report. You can read it on the Riddlesdown parkrun news page.

I also now have an official role at Riddlesdown as one of the admins of the Riddlesdown parkrun facebook page. If you are a runner or volunteer at Riddlesdown and also a facebook user head over and 'like' the page!

On the final straight [photo: Nicki Clark]

Post-run we headed down to the Horseshoe, in Warlingham for coffee and early results. Again we stayed for lunch, this time I went for the spicy sizzling vegetable fahitas, which were nice. The we headed home so I could start trawling through the results page in search of interesting facts for the event report!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Riddlesdown parkrun forty-three


Conditions: Slightly damp / cool / approx 8 degrees / light wind

The baby was asleep when we arrived at the downs, so I headed off to the start line and left Mrs7t and the sleeping one in the warm car.

As I was feeling good I decided that today would be a good day to see if I could push the pace a little more than last week. I started from the back of the pack even though I really didn't mean to do so - I guess it's hard to break a habit!

The start - I'm in there somewhere [photo: Richard Carter]

Once the run had started I moved to the left and tried to filter through as many people as possible before the first marshal (approx 200 metres), there was quite a bit of water on the grass and I noticed that my feet were now a little wet. I had done quite well by this point but then got trapped between a couple of other runners.

I find that when I am trapped in this way seconds feel like minutes, and it is easy to feel very frustrated. Anyway I broke through and continued my pursuit of the 21.xx, or even the 20.xx runners!

After a kilometre I could feel a very mild stitch forming on my right side, I concentrated on my breathing but kept the pace the same. I pushed on through the trail section and by the end had caught up with the March sweatshop monthly prize winner, Carlos. I had been pushing hard so didn't have enough puff to say any more than 'con.. gratu.... lations'.

Just before two kilometres I reached Graeme, I was still out of puff and my stitch was slightly worse. We exchanged a few words and could see this week's eventual race winner already had a substantial lead.

Neck and neck [photo: Richard Carter]

I pressed on as I negotiated the sleeping policemen before turning onto the gravel path and past the halfway point, where I was given the time of 10:11. I hadn't been that fast for a very long time. At this pace I would easily be on for a sub-21 time.
By the three kilometre point I was just about to overtake another runner, but my stitch had become unbearable and I couldn't sustain the pace, reluctantly I eased off the gas and this week's nemesis pulled away.

I took the next 500 metres easy in the hope that the stitch would subside, normally I would press my fingers into the stitch to attempt to relive the pain. However, the stitch was high up, behind my ribs and I couldn't use that technique. Eventually the slower pace helped and although I wasn't fully recovered I decided that I should attempt to reel in my nemesis!

Throughout the trail section I edged closer to him and were neck and neck as we passed Barb, who was marshaling at the 4.5km point at the end of the trail section. I attempted to overtake but he matched my pace and we stayed locked in position, side by side.

The end [photo: Nicki Clark]

I pushed a little more, the stitch had returned, but I had no time to deal with it. How could I back off after mounting a challenge?

With around 250 metres left to go, I edged in front.

I was still ahead as we turned onto the final straight, I did not want to lose this so I did something that I haven't done in a long time - I sprinted.

I crossed the line four seconds in front of him, collected my position chip, and went to find somewhere to recover. Slowly the stitch eased and my breathing became normal.

HQ - chatting to the Trundleys [photo: Richard Carter]

My official time was 21:20. Without the stitch I would have been sub-21, but it's no good talking about what-ifs. I'm very happy with that time considering the (lack of) training. As it happens I was 12 seconds faster than last week.

Last week I mentioned that this week was significant for a streak that I have been running. This run means that I have now run a parkrun in every calendar month for 12 consecutive months. More streak landmarks are coming up in the next few weeks and months, I will of course cover each one as they happen!

We then headed to the Horseshoe for the post-run coffee, where I tried to learn some more about how the results are processed. It was nice to see it in greater detail, maybe one day I'll be the one that gets to call out 'results'!

After six hours we emerged from the pub, our bellies all happy and full of cake. We arrived back at home at around 5.30pm. It's funny what can happen when you pop out for a 21 minute parkrun!

Steve.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Riddlesdown parkrun forty-two

My week

My training schedule for March was shelved in favour of some serious recovery time. Up until this week the only time I had run outside of the parkrun environment was on my birthday as I had signed up for the 'go for a run on your birthday' challenge on the tribesports website. This week I decided to drop in a short mid-week run, so on wednesday I went for the run and felt good. I took the next two days as rest days.

Saturday

Carlos joined me for the walk/jog warm-up thingy between race HQ and the start line. In the photo, I look like I'm talking to someone on the phone. I'm not.


My viral infection was still hanging around, although by the time the weekend came I was starting to feel a little better.Then when I turned up at the downs there were notices about the fields being sprayed with pesticides - Just the thing I need right now!


The temperature was a bit cooler than last week and the skies were overcast. The conditions were actually quite good for running. Saying that, I did feel the need to slip my gloves on. The ladies kept themselves warm while I was away with a big rug-type thing that was hanging around at the registration desk.


I didn't have to start the day with a panic run to the start line, which made a nice change. I actually had time for a quick natter with Chris 'the half-marathon junkie' before the start of the race.


At 9 o'clock sharp the runners were called to the start funnel by this week's run director, Jenny, who jazzed up the pre-run announcements with some of her theatrical talents! From the back of the pack I started my GPS tracking and at the very moment she said 'go' I hit the start button on my stop watch.

 

I wasn't sure if I was going to push hard or take it easy, I left that down to the running gods. By the time I had reached the first kilometre point, I had filtered through the pack and got myself into a comfortable position. I noticed that I had some music playing in my head. It was 'the suburbs' by Arcade Fire, from the album of the same name, which I have been listening to on a daily basis for the last week or so.

 

I had a couple of brief friendly words in the early stages of the run, but I was working hard and didn't have enough puff to sustain a real conversation. Pete was the official photographer today and, as always, made sure I had a nice selection of photos to use for the blog. Thanks.

 

I pushed a little harder than I had been doing recently and it ended up being my fastest time for March, plus my third fastest for the year. I still didn't feel like I was racing, but I wasn't far off. My finish time was 21:32. It's quite encouraging to know that I am still able to run a time like this even though I am not really training at the moment.

 
Next week's parkrun is another special one for me. I won't say exactly what the reason is, but it does have something to do with my love of streaks. It's not that great so don't be expecting anything groundbreaking!


We had a bit of a strange situation at the good companions pub afterwards. They were closed and a new guy was inside preparing for the day. He knew nothing of the arrangement we had in place and we were basically sent away. Plan B came into operation and we ended up driving down to the horseshoe. It also wasn't open, but they were prepared to let us in and supply us with some much needed coffee!


Oh, then I agreed to write the official Riddlesdown report on 14 April. I'm already starting to panic!

7t.


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