Saturday, 17 November 2012

Alice Holt inaugural parkrun

About six months ago I answered a request for people to help set up a new parkrun.  It was all very exciting, planning new routes, meeting new people, setting up new Facebook pages and so on.  Sadly, due to work and home commitments, I couldn't play as active a part in the event team as I would have liked, but I still kept up to date with what was going on (as I have admin rights on the Facebook page!) and was thrilled to hear that the event was starting today.  

I'd run a couple of the proposed routes with Martin Bushell (event director) and other members of the team back in June, but I hadn't even looked to see where the official route would take us.  Alice Holt is far from flat, so I knew we would be in for an interesting run.  

This is now my nearest parkrun, being about 4 miles up the road from me, this meant that I could have a little bit of a lie in this morning, getting up at ten past seven rather than seven o'clock!  I chivied the two younger boys into their shorts and trainers, drank a quick cup of tea, transferred my Alice Holt parking ticket from one car to another, checked I had all the barcodes and bundled the children into the car.  Finding a parking place at 8.30am is not going to be a problem at this venue - there are vast pay and display car parks.  Canny locals tell me that there are free car parks a short walk away, but I'm far too lazy for that!

It was lovely to see so many friendly faces at the start.  There were regulars there from Basingstoke and Frimley Lodge parkruns, Chineham Park Running Club had a huge presence on the day, and I spotted several people from the online running community that is Fetcheveryone.  parkrun royalty was represented by Paul Sinton-Hewitt (it is his fault we are all up early running round parks in the first place) and Danny Norman (of 'The parkrun show' fame).   Event director Martin welcomed us all to the forest and did the first of many very successful pre-run briefings.  If he was nervous it didn't show!  

And then we were off!  The start is nice and wide, with a gentle downhill slope for the first couple of hundred metres.  'Not so fast Freddy' and I fell into step (for a little while) beside a lady with a 50 club t shirt on and we ran and chatted for a while.  We talked about various things running related, and she mentioned that she runs round marathons counting them out in parkruns.  'That's odd,' I said, 'There was a lady on the parkrun show the week before last who said the same thing!'  'That's because that lady was me!' said Louise Ayling! 

The two lap course is lovely, very up and down, but the hills are quite short so you don't notice them too much!  It is a beautiful place to run and I reckon the changing seasons will provide plenty of wonderful scenery.    

It was wet and quite slippery today, Freddy went flying at one point fairly early on, covering his 10 club t-shirt in thick mud.  Strangely (!) he was quite grumpy about the whole thing after that and I really had to cajole/bully/threaten/bribe him round.  On the plus side this did give me time to chat with the wonderful marshals and to take photos!  Another advantage is that if I run it on my own I will easily get a PB!  My other son had run on ahead of us.  

We were only lapped by one person, I do hate being lapped, but was gracious and cheered Danny on!  Danny in turn encouraged Freddy as he passed us (again) on his warm down lap!  I don't think this will ever be a very fast 5k course, even in dry conditions as it is quite undulating with a lot of uneven ground (which was quite 'challenging' for my dodgy foot), but is it a fun course with lots of twists and turns.

Coffee afterwards at The Cafe on The Green was very welcome on a chilly morning.  Lots of chance to socialise, eat cake, discuss the route, eat cake, talk about other parkruns and eat cake.  Actually, the boys both had the 'woodsman breakfast' which was good value at £4.95 each and looked delicious.  The coffee was good too!  

My middle child is planning to do his ESB exam talk about parkrun this year, and was keen to get pictures of all four club T-shirts (and their wearers!) in one place.  Danny (250), Nicola (100),Freddy (10) and an as yet unknown member of the 100 club obliged.  I am very grateful, as is he! 

So, will I change my home parkrun?  Probably not, but I will try to run my local parkrun on a regular basis.  I have one son who loved Alice Holt and one who swears he will never run it again (that'll be because he fell over!) but will happily volunteer!  So to keep everyone, including me, happy (I like a shopping fix after my B'stoke parkrun as well as a gossip with my B'stoke parkrun family) it looks as though we will be visiting Alice Holt occasionally.    If any of my running buddies wants to visit Alice Holt parkrun I am more than happy to meet you there!  

Friday, 16 November 2012

Night running

Last night I went for my first properly dark run of the autumn.  By the time I got home from work it wasn't dusk or twilight anymore, it was just dark. 

I don't like running in the dark, it means that I can't run my normal routes along single track country lanes because there is absolutely no street lighting out there and many potholes!  I am rather fond of having two ankles that function reasonably well most of the time and see no reason to increase the chances of breaking one, or both of them.  Winter evening running means a change of route, I have to turn left, not right, as I leave my road and towards town.  This at least guarantees me pavements and street lighting for most of the route. 

But I still want to be seen.  I'd rather not become a hood ornament on a 4x4, so I make sure that I am wearing a neon yellow top with reflective stripes and that I have a head torch.  My new one is rather clever in that it has a red light at the back as well as an exceedingly bright white one at the front.  I don't like wearing a head torch - it feels odd, and my field of vision is constricted to the illuminated beam directly in front of me, but I'd rather be safe. 

Last night's run won't go down as one of my best ever.  I am pretty sure that one shouldn't wheeze while running, but the remnants of the 'flu are obviously still with me.  Still, I'd had a stressful day at work and mentally felt far better after my run than before.

I ran 4 miles and in that time saw four people riding bicycles without lights.  I know that a lot of cyclists complain about inconsiderate drivers, but these four (who were all adults) really do give cyclists a bad name!  I am sure they would be most upset if they were hit by a car.  I was moving a lot slower than a car and almost ran into a cyclist stopped at a junction.  I thought lights on a bicycle were a legal requirement after dark, but maybe I am wrong.  If they aren't required by law then common sense says it is pretty obvious that they are sensible!  Mind you, none of these people were wearing cycling helmets either....

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Running free?

You may or may not have noticed that I quite like running.  I've been through periods where I've not been running well (I'm going through one of those at the moment) but even when this happens I hate not running more than I hate running.  In the 4 years since I started running I seem to have taken the blame for a fair few other people getting the running bug.  I quite often wax lyrical about the fact that running is a cheap activity.  Most of us own a pair of trainers and some sports wear.  All you need to do is lace up the trainers and step out of your front door.  No gym subscription vanishing via direct debit every month (whether you manage to make it to the gym or not) - what could be simpler than that?

But it isn't quite that simple is it?

Once you start getting more involved, dare I say obsessive, about running, you suddenly decide that you can't possibly manage without at least a couple of running outfits.  If you're lucky, you've hit this phase in the summer, and you can pick up a pair of shorts and a tech t-shirt for about £20 each, which makes 'running socks' at £10-£12 look really quite expensive, but you throw them into your shopping cart anyway.  If it is winter, you are probably going to end up with long running tights, long sleeved tops, maybe a running jacket, possibly a hat and definitely some gloves (I have been know to cry tears of pure misery if I've left my gloves at home in the winter).  The cost mounts up and up.

Then there's running shoes.  I've just bought a new pair and it only feels like a couple of weeks since my current pair were shiny and new.  Running shoes last for about 500 miles, and if you run 30 - 40 miles a week, well, you can do the maths as well as I can, the shoes don't last very long at all.  Like most people who run a lot, I don't ever want to find myself in the situation where I have to go on a long run, possibly a race, in new shoes, so I tend to buy a new pair about three quarters of the way through the life of the old pair.  And running shoes tend to be pricey.  Especially if you need shoes that stop you pronating as I do.  I had a voucher for 20% off running shoes today - and still ended up spending £80.  (They are lovely - I can't wait to wear them, but eighty quid for glorified plimsoles....)  Oh, and then someone mentions trail running and trail shoes, so you end up buying another pair of trainers that are destined to be covered in mud in perpetuity, never, ever fully drying out between puddle ridden (but great fun) runs.

Oh, and I almost forgot gadgets.  I do love a gadget!  This could range from a few pence for an add free version of an app on your smart phone to a couple of hundred pounds for a GPS watch and/or heart rate monitor.  If you are running you may as well know where you have been and how fast you were!  It all adds up....

.... and that's before you decide to enter races!  I try to forget how much these races cost to enter as soon as I have submitted my application.  I do know that the Reading Half for next year is £31.50 (for UKAA members) and the Great South Run is £41 (for just 10 miles).  The more high profile the race the greater the cost!  I don't even want to think how much I have spent on entering races in the last few years.

I'd like to apologise to the children and partners of anyone I have encouraged to run for any economies they have been forced to make just so the runner in their family can acquire a must have item (this week's must have item for me was a head torch), you know that running makes them happy don't you? You wouldn't really want them being cranky at home without a nice new {insert currently lusted after running item here} so that you can get the latest X-Box game would you?  Of course not!!

Thankfully parkrun is free!  A weekly running fix that cost nothing (although volunteering at events ins encouraged).  It is also a great way to get some experience of running with other people (in some cases a lot of other people - Bushy Park parkrun has over 800 runners every week), and challenging yourself against the clock and other people!