“Daddy, on parkrunday …”

My five and a half year old daughter has done two junior parkruns. She ran both last year at Brockwell Park; one in August and one in September. She sometimes mentions parkrun to me and I to her, but fairly infrequently. She is of course aware that I run most days and even has a fairly good grasp of my regular running routine although she probably hasn’t seen my training plan t-shirt since around the time of her last parkrun.

My wife mentioned just a little earlier this evening that five and half year old seemed to be expecting to go parkrunning with me this weekend. A moment ago a freshly post bath time little girl in a fluffy red dressing gown made an irresistible request.

“Daddy, on parkrunday can you wear the same t-shirt as me and your running shorts?”

Recovery is t-shirt shaped.

My five and a half year old daughter has a fairly good grasp of my regular running routine although she probably hasn’t seen the t-shirt since around the time of her last parkrun.

The t-shirt request does not apply to my own bespoke training plan t-shirt which is, of course, unique. We will be wearing our prized limited edition parkrun 10th anniversary t-shirts. And black shorts. I can’t wait 🙂

parkrun anniversary tshirt

My prized limited edition parkrun 10th anniversary t-shirt. This shirt and an array of other official parkrun items are available at Wiggle.

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Swanage SSRC 10k / 9.75k

I ran Swanage Sea Rowing Club’s annual run each year from 2007 to 2010 in its original incarnation as a four mile fun run. Since its reincarnation in 2013 as a 10k yesterday’s race was my first.

I started out with a target of 40:30 in mind since I knew the course was undulating/hilly. As I wouldn’t be making a PB attempt. I did a minimal taper; modifying the preceding two runs from a Thursday 20k long run and an easy 10k on Saturday to two easy runs of just under 10k on Wednesday and Friday. Taking into account the constant elevation changes I didn’t run to a pace target, but rather set out to maintain my effort by heart rate. From the start we gained about 26 metres to the high point of the course at one mile. Noting my heart rate of 154, and that I’d averaged a pace of 4:09/km climbing to this point, I decided on 155 as my target heart rate for the remainder of the race.

first

Since Swanage Sea Rowing Club’s annual event reincarnated in 2013 as a 10k, yesterday’s was my first.

The undulating course through country lanes and quiet seaside town roads made for an enjoyable and quite exhilarating run. The roads weren’t closed to traffic, but this had almost no impact on my race. In addition to the excellent marshals there were quite a few clusters of supporters at various points on the course giving generous encouragement to everyone who passed. Beyond about three kilometres I was effectively running on my own having started immediately behind those actually standing on the start line and passed perhaps eight or ten runners during the initial climb and subsequent kilometre. I could see the two runners ahead of me for the remainder of the race, except when I briefly lost sight of them around a corner or over the brow of a hill, and used them to keep myself focussed. Not trying for a PB I didn’t push hard to reel them in, but held on to them to help ensure I didn’t relax too much. I remember noting that as my watched chimed 6 kilometres the time shown was exactly 24 minutes and so on target for something around 40 minutes. I think it was at this marker or perhaps at the next that I noticed my watch chime the completed kilometre exactly at the marker.

The final kilometre marker appeared just before the course joined the sea front and with the actual road surface absent during the road works it was absolutely necessary to run on the, still paved, pavement. Finishing uphill and back into the car park at Swanage FC the time recorded on my Garmin, 39:18 and just 14 seconds outside my PB set at the almost perfectly flat Brighton 10k in November, caused me to immediately check the distance field. I hadn’t been pressing hard and notwithstanding the ascents and descents I finished still feeling relatively fresh.

My FR620 showed 9.77km. Looking on Strava, which displays distances to one decimal place, the eight activity records I have seen are all either 9.8 or 9.7 kilometres. Present in equal number this, of course, produces an average of 9.75km; 250m short. [update March 2017, since my original post I have become aware that Strava doesn’t round to one decimal place, it actually truncates. Consequently, my original text now struck-through should read “9.80km, 200m short”]  Since it is highly unlikely that the eight runners all ran the perfect racing line I think the course was probably at least 300m [update March 2017, “250m”] short.

Having become a more serious, and for that matter GPS-device-owning, runner since my previous entries the status of the run has become more significant. I appreciate the presence of the word “fun”, in some descriptions of the event, is a strong indicator and the course doesn’t appear to be certified, but all the same I am mildly bemused that the organisers laid out a clearly short course for an event which they chose to describe as a 10k. Given how well everything else was organised – advance and on the day registration, marshalling, direction signs, post run water and medals, club house cakes and winners’ presentations – it seems bizarre. Not having run the 10k in either 2013 or 2014 it may be that the course was changed from a more accurate one to accommodate the significant ongoing road works which appeared in a couple of places on the course. Even so it would apparently have been a simple matter to add another 300m [update March 2017, “250m”] 

Again running an event with both my step-dad Alan and brother-in-law Rob we entered as a team and at the winners’ presentations we claimed the team prize. It may well be that we were the only team, but the significant piece of carved Purbeck stone is still ours to keep until next year. I think it looks quite fetching on the Purbeck stone hearth, also adorned with a Swanage swan, at my mum and Alan’s house in Dorset.

At the winners' ceremonies we claimed the team prize. It may be we were the only group of runners who entered as a team.

At the winners’ presentations we claimed the team prize. It may well be that we were the only team.

results

official time
+ 200m
+ 250m
+ 300m
39:19
40:08 (projected assuming constant pace)
40:20 (projected assuming constant pace)
40:32 (projected assuming constant pace)
biometric summary average HR – 154
max HR – 160 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 188
approx start weight – 69.6kg
position overall – 16 out of 166

Re-focus and run (Christmas is over)

I really enjoyed my Christmas and New Year. From the first moments listening with my wife to our three and five year old girls investigating their stockings, through evenings in front of an open fire at my mum and Alan’s in Dorset playing games, to spending time with friends.

I enjoyed the food too; it seems to have become a tradition that I cook on Christmas day, beef this year, and my first attempt at Yorkshire puddings went surprisingly well. I was very happy to find chocolate coated marzipan in my stocking and amaretti biscuits under the tree. Throughout Christmas itself I doubt whether my festive eating was anything other than typical. My weight gain was minimal; finishing the year at 68.3kg and writing my 2014 review and targets for 2015 on New Year’s Eve I reflected that my weight had been “around 67kg and stable since June”. It seems almost all my Christmas calories were offset by some very enjoyable Winter running.

The New Year hasn’t been so successful in relation to food. With the holiday period long past, I’ve failed to draw the festive eating to a close within any culturally normal time frame. If anything my eating has increased as the holidays have receded. And saying that it has increased is of course a euphemism for binge eating. Last night’s binge was a generous portion of cheese and biscuits followed by a whole tube of Pringles. The previous night I finished the second half of a bag of marshmallows; notionally for use one or two at a time to accompany hot chocolate. The other tube of Pringles disappeared one afternoon last week. I’ve tidied up the remaining mince pies. There has been quite a lot of tidying up.

CATION

Almost all my Christmas calories were offset by some very enjoyable Winter running. The New Year hasn’t been so successful …

Despite running more than ever I’ve gained another 1.8kg in the first 18 days of 2015. Out of curiosity I calculated my base metabolic rate (BMR) for the sedentary version of me: 1,554 calories per day. Energy expended running this year according to Garmin Connect: 10,165 calories. The internet consensus seems to be that an additional 500 calories consumed per day for 7 days produces a weight gain of approximately 0.5kg. A little maths indicates an additional 700 calories per day are required to produce a weight gain of 1.8kg over this period. In summary:

BMR 1,554 x 18 days = 27,972 calories
running = 10,165 calories
weight gain of 1.8kg 700 x 18 days = 12,600 calories
TOTAL food energy required = 50,737 calories
DAILY food energy required 50,737 / 18 = 2,819 calories

Quite an achievement. Today is national euphemism day.

Running more than ever … The week ending today is my highest ever weekly mileage.

Last weekend I told my wife that I was giving up cheese and biscuits because, in that combination, they are always superfluous to my nutritional needs. I have eaten cheese and biscuits on two evenings since then. Earlier this week I made a bet with my brother in law regarding our relative weights. The stakes are measured in Amazon gift cards. I have broken the seventy kilogramme barrier, in the wrong direction, since then.

It is the catharsis of blogged confession I need to truly repent. So, time to get out of sackcloth and ashes and into my pyjamas for an early night. My running gear is laid out for a tempo run in the morning.

With apologies for bastardising Lennon and the spirit of the original …

So that was Christmas
And what have I done?
Another few kilos
I’m seventy point one

And so that was Christmas (now it’s over)
I guess that was fun (if you want it)
The cultural norm binge (now it’s over)
Re-focus and run (if you want it)

#50at50, first nine …

I will be fifty later this year and have long decided to run my first marathon at 50 as much as anything as some kind of runners’ rite of passage. It recently occurred to me that I might continue the theme by running my first ultra in that year too … Spurred on by my numerological tendency the popular meme of compiling a “things to do before I’m 30/40/50/dead” list came to mind and it occurred to me that I might expand my idea to 50 events, of which the marathon and ultra marathon are but two, and thoroughly celebrate my year of my being 50. (As a procrastinator I’ve naturally left it too late to do this before I’m fifty. Though at least I’m not dead.)

50at50

It simply remains to populate my year of being 50 with 50 events. At the moment I have only the very beginnings of a framework; just nine events. I started out with the idea that all 50 would be taking part in official running events, with the relative informality of parkrun as a baseline, but I have decided to modify that number to 45. Each of those I intend to run as competitively as possible as I don’t want there to be any filler. I may not be running the Badwater 135 or the Marathon des Sables, but I’d like some to be atypical, unusual or even unique in my running experience to date. Though the marathon and ultra marathon meet that criteria for me I appreciate that even these and certainly most of the others will be commonplace to many other runners. The 5 non-running events will, of course, be volunteering at parkrun. I hope to diarise and enter as many of the formal running events in advance as possible and retain the flexibility of parkrun, as both runner and volunteer, to fill gaps in my diary and keep my event count going as I progress.

The nine events I have are:

  • first event – Dulwich parkrun on 3rd October 2015. My birthday is actually on 1st October and so, if I can find a suitable race, I may change this.
  • marathon – Brighton 2016
  • ultra marathon – a 50k naturally
  • five Saturdays volunteering at a parkrun
  • 50th and final event – Dulwich parkrun on 1 October 2016. You might reasonably rationalise that my year of being 50 actually ends on 30 September, but being born as I was at 9:28 I would counter that I don’t complete my year until that time on the day of my birth. So with the flexibility of 28 minutes to cover my 5k and any variability in start time I should complete #50at50 with time to spare …

I will update the #50at50 page (also accessible via About Me on the site menu) as further events come to mind and plans come together. With only the 9 events above on it at present it has an “under construction” look about it. Going with early web etiquette it should probably be adorned with low resolution animated gifs depicting road construction paraphernalia. The animation would essentially amount to flashing and being very annoying. But I decided against that. The page is there though.

4,000 miles

During my run this morning I completed 4,000 miles since my first recorded run:

tweetmyrun - 2015 01 04

It was at around the same date last year that I recorded my 3,000th mile:

tweetmyrun - 2014 01 27

I reached 2,000 miles in 2013 whilst setting a half marathon PB in Bournemouth:

tweetmyrun - 2013 04 07

And it was in 2010 that I completed my first 1,000 miles:

tweetmyrun - 2010 02 14

Before the first run for which I now have a record, 31 May 2006, there were probably a few hundred miles more in total from 2004, 2005 and the beginning of 2006, but they are now, sadly, forever lost.

Winter Winfrith

The day after Boxing Day I travelled with my immediate family to Winfrith Newburgh in Dorset to stay with my mum and her husband Alan. It is always a real pleasure to visit them and to see also, as we almost invariably do, other members of my extended maternal family. This time the visits of the various branches of the family coincided completely on only one day and so it was that early on Sunday the twenty eighth four of us – Alan, Skip, Robert and I – set out for a run. It was very cold with the temperature around zero degrees and a crisp, hard frost on all the flora and most of the man-made surfaces. Safety was our primary concern as we left the relatively good grip of the un-made Blacknoll Lane and turned onto the icy tarmac of Gatemore Road and headed North towards what Ordnance Survey labels Winfrith Heath though locals, including my mum and Alan, generally refer to as Egdon Heath.

Egdon Heath

“Egdon Heath”

The first few tens of metres on Gatemore Road were probably the most icy of the entire run. Having traversed these and acquired some confidence in my level of grip I ran on ahead of the other three and completed a 10k loop that I’ve become familiar with over the last two or three years; via Winfrith/Egdon Heath, Moreton, Redbridge and Tadnoll Mill. I ran separately partly because our paces are too disparate to make running together feasible in most contexts, but primarily because it really was so cold that I needed to maintain my regular easy pace – a little under 5 minutes per kilometre or 8 minutes per mile – to ensure I stayed warm. Even so, wearing two tops, running tights, gloves and a hat, it wasn’t until I reached 5k that I felt comfortable; my fingers in particular became painfully cold within the first kilometre and only stopped being a distraction at half way.

Egdon Heath from Blacknoll Hill

“Egdon Heath from Blacknoll Hill”

On subsequent days, running on my own, temperatures were forecast to rise slightly each day, but actually seemed to decrease marginally. The second morning I ran the same 10k loop again and the next I chose an extended 16k variant this time changing my second layer from a running t-shirt to a parkrun fleece. Even with the increased insulation and long sleeves – pulled down to cover most of my thinly-gloved hands – it still required 5k of easy running to warm my fingers. At least the increasingly cold temperatures were offset by the roads becoming dryer on each successive day and so ice and the danger of slipping became less of a consideration. Running the loop anti-clockwise I reached 5k each day just as I forked South West leaving Moreton. This section – from Moreton via Redbridge to Tadnoll Mill – is my favourite part of the route whenever I run it …

Winfrith Heath

A 10k loop that I’ve become familiar with over the last two or three years via Winfrith Heath, Moreton, Redbridge and Tadnoll Mill.

… It’s probably no coincidence that this section is almost entirely downhill, but add to this that the roads tend to be even quieter than the rest of the route which itself is very quiet by most standards. The one notable climb is short and through natural woodland to Redbridge. On the first day I saw three deer in the road ahead of me as I approached the top of the climb and the eponymous bridge itself; I’ve never seen deer whilst running before. They lifted their heads individually several times to look at me before apparently coming to a consensus and skittering off into the trees. As I rounded the corner to the bridge I came upon a healthy looking country fox about to cross it in the same direction as me. He looked over his shoulder to catch my eye and then quickly doubled back towards me, off the road and down into the railway cutting.

On the third day I saw two of the three deer again in the same place. The smallest seemed to misjudge how close he wanted to allow me to come; his hooves momentarily slipped on the tarmac as he tried to rectify the distance between us and pursue the larger deer that had already disappeared from my sight into the trees. On both these days I saw two or three pheasants during my run.

Silver Birch on Egdon Heath

“Silver Birch on Egdon Heath”

As is probably apparent from the disparity between the weather described and that in the images; the photographs in this post weren’t taken during my most recent visit. They were actually taken by Alan during a run just after sunrise on 30 November and I thought they were so beautiful when I first saw them that I have wanted to include them in a post ever since. Despite the chronological and weather shifts they still encapsulate my enjoyment running my last 22 miles of 2014.

Blacknoll Sunrise from Egdon Heath

“Sunrise over Blacknoll Hill from Egdon Heath”