Sunday, 5 November 2017

An eventful weekend in Edinburgh...

And by eventful, I am mean a weekend full of events :-) Many may call them races but I think the organisers of both prefer to call them events, just being the nature of them. But if you put a bunch of people in the same place, say the word "go", time people and give them a finish line. I suppose you could call them races too.

Edinburgh parkrun

Saturday's event was Edinburgh parkrun situated in Crammond in the northwest of the city, running along beside the Fourth river. I met up with some old workmates in Edinburgh on Friday night, so since I was there I thought I'd take advantage and book a hotel for the night which gave me the chance of doing a parkrun I have never done before. My hotel was in Edinburgh park which is only 4 miles away from Crammond. But since I didn't have the car, it meant I had to go into Edinburgh by tram and back out by bus. So about an hour an a half to get there. Would have been quicker from Glasgow by car lol. I looked at staying in the centre but hotels were 60 quid more expensive. 

Anyway I got to Crammond just after 9 and walked to the start.  I found myself a wee seat and just chilled out listening to music.  Then about quarter past they gave the shout for the first timer/visitor briefing. I always like to go to these even though I have done so many parkruns now. And this one I was glad I went to.  It was Davie Black doing it who is a prominent figure in the parkrun community, not only in Scotland but on the parkrun facebook group too. He told us all about the history of parkrun in Scotland, Edinburgh and his own parkrun achievements. I think he has done the most parkruns out of anyone in Scotland sitting at 401. Obviously he went over the essentials and the serious stuff but he was also very funny and the 20 odd people who were there were made to feel very welcome.

By the time he had finished it was actually time to start! So I made my way to the back of the pack.  After a technical glitch with the pa system meant the run director had to shout; we were on our way. For this run I wanted to take it as easy as possible, knowing I had a tough race the next day. Being at the back was perfect as there was 577 runners today, so it meant I wasn't going off too quickly. At the same time the path is so wide that you can find your own space pretty quick (at least where I was anyway!).  After the first couple of K, the course goes into a 1 km loop and then the last 2k goes back the way you came. Very similar to Strathclyde parkrun.  At the 2km mark it was busy, but spread out enough. I found myself catching people. Then I would aim for the next and the next.  My orignal plan of just taking it easy went out of the window and ended up finishing bang on 30 minutes. Which seems to be my standard time at the moment. I know I can go faster than that though if I started off at a better pace. Probably can get down to 28 minutes soon, 27 at a push.

Afterwards I headed back to my hotel for a shower and got the train home.

Cancer Research Tough 10

Having not done a race since June and backing out of the Aberdeen half having not done the training. I needed something else to focus on. So back in September my brother signed up for this. I was a bit skeptical as I had done zero hill training at that point and I know how tough the hills in the Pentlands are. And the fact that it has "Tough" in the name means they are not going to make it easy!

Fast forward and even yesterday after parkrun I was thinking whether I should do this or not. Although I have been running, the max I have been up to in the last wee while is 4 miles and I have been nowhere near the amount of elevation in this 10k, which sat just over 1200 feet in total. But then I thought why not. I'll just walk the uphills and run the flats and downs.

So my brother, mum and my 2 nieces headed over to Bonaly, in the foot of the Pentlands. We got to the start with about 15 minutes to spare along with probably another 200-300 odd folk. As you would expect the first km was pure uphill. While many around me attempted to run, I just got into a fast walking pace which wasn't much slower than people trying to run up it. But after about a 1 km of that I was beginning to think if I am actually going to make it. It was tough going already and I had just been walking!  After about a k, it starts to level off, and although the paths were very uneven. It was runnable. And I got myself into a run walk rhythm. Then after 3k you got a great view of the loch pictured below:

It was a nice run down to the loch and then there was a short section of tarmac round the loch where you hit the 4k mark.  Then you turn left up the hill known as the "Calf burner". That was a toughy but the marshal at the top was so enthusiastic it really made you want to get going again. I must say though there were marshals all over the place and they were fantastic.  I should really mention my brother here to. At first I thought he was going to run off and run his own "race". But it ended up he was quite happy running with me and then sprinting off, stopping, and so on. He is a lot fitter than me at the moment so would have been interesting to see what time he would have done if he gave it his full effort.

Anyway the climbing continued up to the 5k mark and it just got muddier and muddier. As much as I like getting muddy it does make the going tougher and meant I had to even more. But after a couple of km of climbing. It must have been about 7km where I got this view over Edinburgh:

After this picture was taken it was pretty much all downhill. The first of which was pretty steep which I took my time going down. Then it got into the nice gradual downhills which I like and I ran all the way to the finish from there. At the finish my nieces and my mum were there to cheer us over the finish line which was nice. 

In the end we got there in an hour and 24 minutes. Not bad, especially when you consider I have done zero training on hills like that, I have just done road hills. To put this in perspective the winner was 46 minutes. I would do this one again and I wouldn't even say "Oh I need to do more hill training next time". Yes it would help me get a better time. But I enjoyed it the way it was. If I did it next time in say 1hour 8 minutes I don't think I would be more happy than I was today as it was more about just getting out in the hills and hanging out with the family. ...........I would like to get my parkrun times down a bit though!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

More setbacks in September, but on the up

Since the last post I have had to spend more time on the sidelines due to illness. Somehow I have still managed to keep my streak going of getting out at least once a week this year but calling some of them runs are questionable. But at least I am getting out there.

The first run back from illness was at Tollcross parkrun in the east end of Glasgow. My reason for doing it was because I haven't done it since March so deserved another outing. Plus I knew it would be a struggle so I wouldn't be setting any speed records if I did a flat course. But what happened in this run was something I really did not expect. I came 2nd last!! I know the tail walker goes down as last in which case I would be 3rd last, but still, the only person I was in front of was a 70 year old!  First run back from illness or not, this maybe was the wake up call I needed. Not just in terms of my time but my general health. For the record my time was just over 36 minutes which is my worst 5k time ever.

The next weekend I went to Springburn parkrun.  After Tollcross the previous week my expectations were low and I just set out at a very easy pace. Just before the end of the first lap where the slight incline starts I felt the need to walk, so I did up to the small car park. But after that I was able to run fine the whole of the 2nd lap. Then in the last half lap I even managed to pick up the pace a bit and push on for a sprint finish! Where did that come from I don't know but it was reassuring to know I hadn't completely lost my fitness. I started to think that because I was bed bound so much I hardly did any activity at all when I was ill meaning my body needed to get use to being active again. Anyway this parkrun I did in just over 30 minutes! A 6 minute improvement on Tollcross.

Hmmmmmm, the weekend after Springburn saw me to return to Pollok for the first time since June. I felt alright at the start but wanted to take it easy still just to gradually try and build things up rather than go for it and have a guaranteed blow up.  In the end it could be seen as my biggest blow up ever at a parkrun and that was taking it easy!  I didn't even complete the first km or some might say the easy bit, without walking. And walking featured heavily on this "run". The reason for this is that the more I went on, the more ill I felt. I probably should have stopped after 1 lap but I'm too stubborn sometimes. I finished in 42 minutes. A PW for 5k by a long way.

It only took me a few days to recover from this though and I was back at it for the final parkrun day in September.  This time I was heading south for a family wedding with my parents. They very kindly let me do a parkrun on the Saturday and I chose one which was on the way as the wedding was down in Cornwall. So I picked Arrow Valley just south of Birmingham in Redditch. To be honest I don't really have any criteria for picking a parkrun - like flat/hilly, laps/out and back etc. It was going to be somewhere I haven't been and its a parkrun so they were the only 2 boxes that needed to be ticked.  I knew it was a busy one by the results. Usually they get about 400.  It starts in a big grassy area and then its 2 laps of the lake, although the path does veer away from the lake in sections.  The paths are quite narrow and I started quite far back, so pace was very much dictated for the first mile or so. But then it spread out and I could pick people off for the rest of it. I ended up finishing in 30 minutes completing a very up, down month of running.

In terms of looking forward and future goals I know I said I might just stick to doing parkruns but I do think I need bigger goals to get me going further and faster during training. So maybe a 10k in November could be on the cards. I also have set some strava segment goals to keep my hill work interesting.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Back to the day blog

Well at time of writing my first vlog still hasn't reached the 500k views I was anticipating so thought it was best to give it a back seat and go back to blogging.

I did say on my last vlog that July needed to be a big month to get me in the right shape for Aberdeen half later this month. I also said that I was feeling ill. That got worse and I had take take some time off work. After that I have found it difficult to get back into running again. Not helped with being in a bit of a stressful work situation. So basically my big month of July never happened and I think I was lucky to get over 20 miles for the entire month.  I did Ruchill parkrun yesterday basically run/walking the whole way in 33.30 minutes and yes I was trying.  I do wonder how long it is going to take me to get back to where I was just the month before when I was in the 26 minute region for parkrun.

So what now? ......

I have cancelled my hotel in Aberdeen. No way I am in any state to do a 10k never mind a half marathon at the moment.  Even if I was taking my time I would struggle.  It is frustrating to have to cancel another race as it is does seem to be a regular occurrence over the last few years. While I'm still running I think I'll always be in the mindset of wanting to do a big race again and yes while I was on my high of training during June I did enter a marathon for next year. Which you never know I might be in a position to do it. But I keep saying to people that I might just stick to parkruns for the rest the year. Now notice the word "just". I say it as if there is something wrong with that and that I should be going longer. But there is really nothing wrong with it! And it is a mindset I need to change for now. So for the rest of the year it will be parkrun fest and that is that. :-)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

2nd Vlog on my week in running and a feature on coming last in races

Here is my latest Vlog

For those who would prefer to read a blog here is a brief report on my week.

On Monday and Tuesday I was feeling better but decided to take a few more rest days. On Wednesday I did a 2 and half mile run round the campus at work which was good. Thursday I struggled a bit and just managed 2 miles. Friday rest day. Then Saturday I had planned to run to parkrun, do the parkrun then run back but went back to bed instead. So went on my own run later. I sent out at a really easy pace but struggled to keep going after 2 miles and stopped it there. I thought I would try again today but not feeling that great again.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

First vlog

Back in 2010 I did a few race videos which you can find in the right hand side of the page.  But today just on a wim, I decided to try doing a vlog instead of the usual blog. The first one is basically a short introduction to my running just to try and get to grips with doing vlogs. So if you followed this blog for a while (thanks!) but I'm afraid there is nothing new on there. But in future the vlogs will be new stuff. I haven't decided yet the balance I will give between the vlog and the blog I'l just see how it goes. I've never been good at public speaking or anything like that so I thought this might be a good way of improving that skill. That may take a while lol.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the first one.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

18/06/17 - Mens 10k Glasgow

The 2 weeks run up to the 10k haven't really gone according to plan and I have missed quite a few sessions. I haven't been ill. But in the harder sessions I really have been pushing it and I found it has been taken me longer to recover from them.  Most notably the Monday before the race where I did a 10k over a very hilly route in 1 hour 11 minutes. I was going at a easy pace but due to the hills it really took it out of me and ended up run/walking after 3 miles.  So it was going to be interesting to see how I would do today.

Although I have done plenty of parkruns this year I haven't actually done a race since last July.  Last year my best 10k time was 59 minutes so I was hoping to beat that today.  And I was confident that I would beat the 1 hour 4 minutes at the Mens 10k 2 years ago.  This was also the first time my brother and I would run in the same race, although we have done parkruns together.

So on to the race. We arrived in plenty of time and did a warm up before making our way to our pen. We both put down an hour finish time so we were both in the same pen. We were actually in the last wave of people to go off. As it started I was determined not to dodge in and out of people and wasting my energy. But that was never a problem and I was able to get into the pace I wanted immediately which was 9 minute mile pace. I never checked my watch during the race but going by feel and what I had practiced in training I knew I was going at that pace or there abouts.

In the first couple of km my brother got further and further away from me till he was out of site. I was confident he would stay ahead of me today judging by some of his training where he did a 55 min 10k training run.  About 3k I caught up with Stuart who I know from parkun. He was being a VI guide and doing a great job. Its amazing the detail he was going into, telling the runner about the surface and giving information of the degree of turns coming up and when exactly he'll be hitting them. 

I was in a good zone at this point. I was putting in an effort but I felt I could sustain it.  When I got to Buchanan Street I was expecting the 4k marker but it never came. I got to the water station which was half way but I never saw the 5k marker. It wasn't until going down the street back towards the Clyde where I saw the 6k marker which was a relief.  When I turned left onto the road going up to the top end of Glasgow green, all of a sudden my brother came into view and I was reeling him in and passed him in between 7k and 8k. I gave him some encouragement and pushed on. 8k I was feeling it but I kept it going. I found that the km markers did seem to come quickly (at the times I saw them). Which was a good thing mentally.

Passing the 9km mark I knew there was lots of twists and turns as it weaves its way to George Square. I found this quite difficult.  I'm not sure if it was the heat or my head or just physically I was done. But halfway through that last km I had to take a walk break. I don't know about anyone else but when I take a walk break it feels like you are walking for an eternity.  I did pick up again and start running. And somehow I still did the last mile in 8.40 so I cant have been walking for long. And the last .2 of a mile at 9.10 pace (I'm not sure exactly what point I started walking).  

There were great crowds at the finish. I think I finished at rush hour as literally as soon as I crossed the line the queue for the medals and goody bags started. It took a while to get through but everyone was patient and it didn't take away from this excellent event.  I crossed the line in 55.39 so its the fastest 10k I have done in years and I think well and truly reflects where I'm at, at the moment.  I really gave it everything and pretty much paced it the way I planned.  Well done to my brother who finished in 57 minutes in his first race in many years.

Now onwards to Aberdeen at the end of August.

Monday, 29 May 2017


Well this has been a fun month.  It started full of promise and full of hope as I set out on a structured training plan for my half marathon in August. The first of the month, a bank holiday, 35 minutes easy running it said.  This should be easy enough! I got about a mile into it and started to feel more and more unwell till I just stopped, turned around and walked back feeling very faint.

That was me for the week. House bound. No exercise. No work. No nothing. By the time Saturday came round I was perking up a bit so headed over to Ruchill parkrun which at the time was the newest addition to the Scottish parkrun family. So I decided I was just going to jog round given the week I had. Well I thought it would be a jog. Its a 3 lap course and somehow it feels like you are always going up apart from one wee bit where there is a short, sharp downhill.  I jogged about a mile and a bit and ran/walked the rest.

For the rest of the month I really got into the plan and stuck with all the sessions bar one where I wasn't feeling up to it that day. But I am enjoying the mix of speed sessions, easy runs and slightly longer runs. Before this plan I have always just done loops of a certain distance. But this plan does so many minutes. So I have been doing out and backs trying to keep even pacing and doing smaller loops at the end if required to make up to a certain time. I think I may go back to loops though as I kind of know roughly how long each loop takes anyway.

One run on the schedule which I have changed is the 25 minute easy run on the Saturday. And you will be shocked as to the reason. To do an all out parkrun.  The week after Ruchill I did Linwood and did just over 27 minutes and gave a really good effort.  Then the next week I did Strathclyde. I wasn't unwell but I just didn't feel like going fast that day so set off conservatively.  But I found as the run went on I was gradually getting faster and finished off just under 29 minutes.  Then my last parkrun of the month was Victoria parkrun where I surprised myself a lot.  My brother came along too who has been running well recently so I expected him to beat me.  He shot off at the start and I settled into a nice steady pace. With Victoria being three laps and going round a loch I saw him build a substantial gap.  But on the 3rd lap I realised I was closing and I took a point where he passed and counted 20 seconds gap. But I thought that was too much as there was less than a kilometre left.  On the straight back towards the loch though I caught and passed him. I fully expected him to overtake me again on the home straight but he never caught me.  I finished in a seasons best of 26.06 with my brother getting a 5k PB just 7 seconds behind me.

I have also started the steps challenge again last week where I am aiming to cover 10,000 steps every day for 100 days (till the end of August). I have decided not to do lots of blogs on this, this year though and focus on my half marathon training instead. I am aiming to beat my average last year which was 13,000 steps a day and will give wee updates just to say my progress compared to last year.

Step count as at 29th May after 5 days

2016: 61,620
2017: 75,121