The big five oh!

No, no, not my fiftieth birthday; that was on the first day of the month and I celebrated at Bromley parkrun. This morning was my fiftieth parkrun! And fortunately, having anticipated this for some time, I managed to align several significant moments, numerological and otherwise:

  • my 50th parkrun – as I may already have mentioned
  • my 5th consecutive parkrun – the first time I have put such a sequence together
  • the 5th event in my #50at50 challenge
  • the first time my dad has seen me run
  • my runningest sister also ran – although she did forget her barcode and so doesn’t appear in the results

At the start line I had a target of nineteen fifty in mind for obvious reasons, but wasn’t too optimistic. Although I started the month at Bromley comfortably running 20:50 inside a target of 21:30 and ran 20:08 the next week at Dulwich inside a target of 20:30, the subsequent two returns to Dulwich produced 20:17 and 20:08 against a target of 20:00.

I mentioned in my post on Bromley at the beginning of the month that some fluid on my right knee was causing me some concern and this has persisted since becoming more obvious as the weeks pass. As a consequence I hadn’t run at all since last weekend’s parkrun when I arrived at Dulwich Park this morning. The support of friends, and particularly family, makes a difference though. Several friends wished me well on my fiftieth parkrun at, or in one case shortly after, the start and I then had my family – my dad and his wife, my own wife and our daughters of four and six – cheering me as I passed on each of the three laps.

My parkrun 50 club shirt. Currently virtual.

My 50th parkrun qualifies me for a 50 club shirt. Mine is currently virtual.

My result of 19:55 was very satisfying and something of a surprise given my non-training. I attribute this to the facets of the day already described and in particular that the first time I passed my family my eldest daughter was crying. I think I ran that second lap more quickly because I wanted to be there for her. It momentarily crossed my mind that I might need to stop and support her, but of course when I completed my second lap she was fine. It transpired that she’d fallen off her bike just before I arrived the first time.

After I had recovered, talked with my family and some friends and cheered other parkrunners over the line, my eldest daughter and I set off on a ‘training run’ once around the park. She is now ready for tomorrow’s junior parkrun 🙂


If … Age Grade Holy Grail revisited at 50

Shortly after my 49th birthday, I considered the times I would need to achieve to record an 80% AG at that time. Having completed my 50th year at the start of this month, and spurred on by a comment from runningest sister after last weekend’s Bromley parkrun, I have revised the times, again using the Running for Fitness calculator. The slightly easier targets, combined with several PB improvements since my original post, have moved the Holy Grail just a little closer. In some disciplines tantalisingly so …

event 80% AG time (male, 50 yrs) current PB  improvement required pace improvement required per km
800m 2:25 2:26 0:01 1s 3:03 – 3:02
1500m 4:54 5:18 0:24 16s 3:32 – 3:16
1 mile 5:18 5:32 0:14 8s 3:26 – 3:18
5k 18:26 18:53 0:27 6s 3:47 – 3:41
5 mile 30:29 31:28 0:59 8s 3:55 – 3:47
10k 38:23 39:04 0:41 4s 3:54 – 3:50
10 mile 63:00 66:41 3:41 14s 4:09 – 3:55
half marathon 83:41 86:29 2:48 8s 4:06 – 3:58
marathon 2:54:20 4:08

If, and that’s an important ‘if’, I can stay fit throughout my fiftieth year I hope to enter at least one event each of the disciplines above in a PB competitive state. The comments I made in my original post regarding how many of the disciplines I might achieve an 80% AG at still stand – essentially up to and including 5 miles at the most optimistic – so the addition of a marathon to the list is purely for interest. In any case I will approach these AG goals cautiously as I do not want to jeopardize my returning, and hopefully ongoing, fitness and hence my #50at50 challenge and in particular my first marathon and first ultramarathon within that.

All the same, it would be nice if I could record one.

A big 'if'.

A big ‘if’. Similar to an important ‘if’. Both being quite nice.


First 100 events

9 years, 3 months and 2 days after my first event, the London British 10k on 2 July 2006, last Saturday’s Bromley parkrun was my one hundredth. I have run in 12 different disciplines; listed here in order of my first running of each.

event count first last fastest
10k 22 2 Jul 2006, 46:40 16 Nov 2014, 39:04 39:04
5000m 2 23 Sep 2006, 20:27 15 Apr 2015, 19:01.53 19:01.53
SSRC 4 mile fun run 4 28 Jan 2007, 27:48 24 Jan 2010, 28:28 27:43
10000m 1 15 Sep 2007, 44:04 44:04
half marathon 7 28 Mar 2010, 98:13 29 Mar 2015, 87:14 86:29
5k 47 11 Aug 2012, 22:39 3 Oct 2015, 20:50 18:53
5 mile 4 2 Dec 2012, 33:11 7 Dec 2014, 31:28 31:28
Beckenham RC handicap 5 13 Feb 2013, 23:27 9 Oct 2013, 25:35 23:02
800m 2 6 Nov 2013, 2:30.1 4 Dec 2013, 2:25.9 2:25.9
1500m 3 6 Nov 2013, 5:18.2 5 Feb 2014, 5:20.9 5:18.2
10 mile 1 1 Mar 2014, 66:41 66:41
1 mile 1 5 Mar 2014, 5:31.7 5:31.7
SSRC 10k (short) 1 25 Jan 2015, 39:19 39:19

Whilst many of those event disciplines – 800m, mile, 5k, half marathon etc – are commonly understood some will be unfamiliar: Just what is a Beckenham RC handicap for example? An explanation of these anomalies, together with an up to date event count beyond the date of this post, can be found on the Event Counts page (also accessible via Stats on the site menu).


9 years, 3 months and 2 days after my first event last Saturday’s parkrun was my one hundredth.

I take some satisfaction from reaching 100 events and find it is interesting to reflect on how the frequency and diversity of events has increased since my early years. Although my progression has been slowed over the last two years by injury, I am certainly anticipating my 200 event milestone already. Although I may not add many new disciplines – just marathon, 50k and 3000m currently come to mind – I am hoping to reach the next milestone relatively quickly. My #50at50 celebration, which started at Bromley last weekend, should get me close to 150 by this time next year if all goes well.


Different cake

Parkrun cancellations are relatively rare and even when they do occur they are advertised on social media frequently and as far in advance as the decision allows. As a consequence of how rare they are, quite possibly encouraged by my laissez faire optimism, I rarely specifically check that an event is going ahead, and so perhaps I tempt fate a little more than I should. All of which is quite likely an over-elaborate introduction to explaining that my sister and I had arranged the she and her family sleep over on Friday night with a view to joining me at Dulwich parkrun yesterday for my first parkrun at age 50 and the first event in my #50at50 calendar. Fortunately I tweeted my anticipation on Friday night …

tweet 006
tweet 007

All of which is certainly an over-elaborate explanation of my first Bromley parkrun yesterday! The course in Norman Park is close to flat and yesterday we ran the Summer course which I understand contrasts with the Winter variant in that it includes more running on grass and a longer lap repeated just over two times.

It seems the tendonitis in my right ankle is continuing to recover and certainly my gradually increasing running has resulted in my cardiovascular fitness improving. My only concern as I approached the start was that I had some fluid on my right knee. It is only slight and I have concluded that I put my knees under excessive stress whilst running the downhill section of the distinctly hilly Crystal Palace parkrun five weeks ago in 21:55, foolishly repeating the error at the same venue two weeks ago in 21:30. I set out yesterday simply intending to match the latter time on a much kinder course with three further weeks recovery under my belt. My sister hoped to improve her 22:16 5k PB set last year at Weymouth parkrun and my brother in law was aiming to run inside 26:00.

I learned that Bromley parkrun regularly provides pacers on the first Saturday of each month and yesterday there were pacers for most, possibly all, whole minute targets from 18 to 35 minutes. My sister and I set out agreeing to track the 22 minute pacer in the first instance. Quite soon, and as we had anticipated in a field of over 500, we lost contact with each other and I never did see the 22 minute pacer. As my run progressed I felt comfortable and noted I was running just inside 21:30 pace. I was somewhat surprised to hear my watch chime 4k and, finding myself comfortable and so close to home, raised my pace just a little. Shortly after I noticed the 21 minute pacer just ahead and raised my pace a little more to ensure I caught up before the finish.

As soon as I had finished and stopped my watch I turned back to wait at the finishing line for my sister. She seemed to appear very quickly …

I love parkrun! I have said this many times, tweeted the hashtag (#loveparkrun) many, many times and may even have blogged it more than once. As a positive, open, welcoming community it surprises and warms me afresh each time I return. Whether that community is the online social media parkrun community pointing out the cancellation at Dulwich, and also tweeting advice about parking at Norman Park, or the first parkrunner I spoke with who outlined the Summer and Winter courses, or the friend from Dulwich parkrun I met at the start who shared some exciting news relating to a potential new local parkrun or the pacers who contributed so much to so many people*. Not least, lest I forget, my sister …

event statistics

my sister 21:50 PB – 26s improvement!
my brother in law 25:25 – 17s outside PB
me first event of my #50at50 year
100th event across all disciplines 🙂

race data summary

offiical finish time 20:50
target 21:30 – 0:40 inside
splits pace
biometric summary average HR – 155
max HR – 169 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 179
approx start weight – 71.1kg

* Or the friendly faces of the organisers of my running club who were volunteering operating the run timers at the finish line. Or the 23 minute pacer who kindly explained his technique for pacing other runners and how to volunteer myself as a pacer in the future.