Bushy parkrun 10th Anniversary

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IMG_5969.JPGWe set off in a massive, diverse crowd. I was initially worried that I may trample on the toddler stood in front of me but that soon turned to concern that I might not actually be able to keep up with her.

That set the tone. I battled it out with the youth and the elderly and pretty much lost to each one. I comforted myself by the thought that one lad whizzing past me was at least 37 years younger than me. The fact that made him about 6 years old shouldn’t really matter.

With a record turn out of 1705 runners, the finish funnel was a challenge even from the perspective of a straggler. We soon made it out the other end though and met our favourite Surrey Housewife who was characteristically spotted with 3 glasses of champers.

It was absolutely lovely to share in the Bushy parkrun 10th anniversary. I was introduced to the institution back in Feb 2007 where I came 195th out of 196. I credit the wonderfully inclusive community with turning around my health and social well being, so very happy birthday parkrun.

Happy Birthday parkrun

A Soggy First for Janathon Day 4

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The alarm went off at 6.30 this morning so we could get across London for Lynn’s first parkrun. It needn’t have bothered, I’d been laying awake for hours listening to the rain drumming on the velux and the bin lid bouncing around the garden.

If we hadn’t arranged to meet Suzan at Bushy Park I can shamefully confirm that we would have stayed in bed and failed Janathon.

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But we had planned a meet up, so at 8.55 we were hovering round the start line trying to get close enough to the bodies in front to afford a little protection from the driving rain. At 9, on the dot, the starting horn sounded and the rain stopped.

We hadn’t spotted Suzan in amongst the 567 starters so Lynn and I set off down the long straight and focused on staying upright for the duration of the course

Lynn was quite interested in our positioning within the crowd, obviously keen not to be last in her first event. It’s best not to worry about these thing in the first heady km, there is much more ebb and flo later in the race as pacing plans begin to unravel. We were however, very close to the back and could survey the slips and slides of the runners ahead of us.

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As we started the 2nd km I spotted a rather dishevelled 250 club member hugging a tree. As we got closer I realised it was Suzan, covered head to toe in mud, having come a cropper in the mud fest.

Despite being bruised and bloody she picked up our pace and talked us around the course. I’m not much of a conversationalist when I’m out on a run. My heart rate hovers about 2 beats below my theoretical maximum and that doesn’t leave room for non essential activities like talking, it barely copes with breathing. That left Lynn and Suzan to natter away while I tried not collapse.

With 1k left to run, Suzan started to push Lynn. I didn’t have anything left in reserve but I didn’t want Lynn to finish her first event with enough breath to natter across the finish line. Luckily Suzan, even in her injured state, has a killer competitive attitude. I could see them picking runners off one by one. If the field hadn’t been quite so slippery I’m sure the race for the line would have been worthy of chariots of fire. My final straight was much closer to dancers on ice.

Sophisticated Ladies Run for Bolly

SHS 250

Back in 2007, at my first Bushy Park Run I was introduced to two women who exposed me to the joys of sophisticated running. I’ve never been a stranger to the pleasure of a post run Stella but these two raised the bar with their post run champagne and canapes.

Surrey Housewives run for Bolly

When you get invited to a Surrey Housewife (SHS) event, I strongly recommend you make an effort to attend – even if it involves a disturbingly early start and a gruelling run.

SHS 250Today’s event was the Bushy parkrun. A quick scan through my running logs reveals that I have attended the sum total of 19 parkruns over the last 6 years.

Today’s event was not about my 19th run but Suzan and Carol’s 250th parkrun.

Thats 250 5k’s each and 250 missed lie ins.

An amazing 1006 other runners joined them for the run and were rewarded at the end with a celebratory glass of fizz and a cream bun. I was a teeny bit slow for the cream bun stall but I’ll settle for champagne any day.

Congratulations Carol and Suzan – and don’t think I didn’t notice the pre-race cocktail, I reckon I could be persuaded to add that to my usual run routine.

Chrimble BPTT

Today was the annual showing of the Christmas Bushy Park Time Trial and I’ve been looking forward to this particular event for about 340 days, since my first introduction to the wonder of the time trial phenomonen back in February. It would have been easy to stay in bed this morning, it was dark and gloomy and of course presents awaited. Still, you can’t really resist that level of anticipation.

As I cycled through Richmond Park in the light drizzle, I puzzled a little over the knowing looks I received from the exhausted reindeer. They obviously knew what was in store for me – that’ll teach me not to leave any carrots out on Christmas Eve. When I mentioned yesterday that a downpour was required to wrap up a thorough test of the Salomon pack, it really wasn’t meant as a Dear Santa letter. I could have waited.

The rain held off for most of the run and I was able to “enjoy” the 5k amongst good company. I was adopted at the midway point by a first-timer and her motivational cousin and was able to experience a vicarious boost that carried me over the finish line relatively unscathed.

I even remembered the new phone this morning so I got to try out the Sports Tracker Beta application. It required a little bit of juggling to switch on both the garmin and the N82 without dropping the phone into the path of a couple of hundred runners but then it is a bit overkill to use two different devices. Sports Tracker has been around for a while and I remember Jogblog took it for a whirl a while ago, but the new version is quite impressive. The phone application links flawlessly to the website offering a live update of your progress, with your route appearing online as you run. Pretty nifty stuff.

sportstracker The website is particularly attractive and displays some respectable charts. You can view the page for the BPTT workout to get an idea of the detail available.

I can imagine this service being quite addictive and the stats will only get better as you add more workouts. I’m going to be using this again and have already downloaded the application to my N95, I’ll be interested to try it out on my next commute where I tend to have more trouble picking up a GPS signal. I’ll have the two phones going head to head against the garmin to see how reliable the reception is.

So, back to this morning, did I mention that it was raining? I finished up at the time trial and set off on the bike for 7 mile ride home. I was dreaming of roast potatoes and yorkshire puds when the sky starting lobbing buckets of gritty, grimey rain water at me. When I finally got home I was just staggered by the amount of water I’d managed to absorb and peeled the Salomon Raid Revo off directly over the bath expecting at least half a bucket of gulley water to come rushing out of the mini plug holes. As it happens the inside of the pack was still dry which is quite impressive given that no other part of me remained “dry” even my goretex jacket had failed under the onslaught.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

Just made it back from todays running commute, it felt like a tough one but it was improved by the queues of festive travellers, I get a buzz from overtaking cars.

We were released from work a couple of hours early so I got to run on the scenic side of the river and cross the bridge all before it got dark and spooky. Of course today I was due to take my trial package on a test run, the package is the Nokia N82 Limited Edition Adventure pack which contains the phone, bundled with the Nokia Sports Tracker beta and the Salomon Raid Revo 20. A great set for the runner but not the forgetful runner – I now have two phones on the go and managed to forget both of them! I did remember the Salomon pack though.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

This is a super lightweight package but unfolds to handy size. I got my trousers, shirt, coat and assorted “stuff” inside the pack with quite a bit spare and no need to use the compression webbing for attaching my undies. Good job the extra space wasn’t required as I somehow managed to break the webbing attachment within minutes of removing it from the box, it sort of unwound into a bundle of fluff right before my eyes.

The pack is made of very thin material and I’m not sure how it would stand up to rain, the pack has a couple of plug holes at the bottom for water to drain away, which makes me think it isn’t going to make much of an effort to keep the rain out. The zips look pretty snazzy though, they appear to seal up as you close them so maybe it is more water resistant than I think. Will update next time I get caught in a downpour.

It’s a pretty snug fit on the back, it drapes over your shoulders like a soft cuddly bear (yuk) and the chest and waist strap holds it secure. The chest strap is a great design as it slips up and down the pack to ensure a damn near perfect fit. All in all though I think the fit is just a bit to snug, the pack sits flat against your spine. By the end of the run my back was feeling hot and sticky and this is on a bleak mid winter day, run with this in the middle of summer and I think you’ll pass out before 10 k is up. In contrast my Asics Barrios has a layer of bumps that hold the pack well off your back and is relatively cool to wear.

So the pack is a good size, has really neat waist band pockets big enough to hold phone, keys and iPod securely but its held too close to your back, meaning that the padding will absorb loads of sweat and is bound to stink within a few months. I hope the Inov 8 proves to be a better solution, when it finally turns up.

*UPDATE* I got my wish for a downpour, and I have to say that the backpack held up very well. Check out the details here.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

RPTT Update for 8th Dec 07

Here’s a quick post for completeness.

I may still be slacking on the posting front but I am at least back out there and running! I think this week marks the first time since the Great North Run that I have actually persuaded myself to go out of the door on a non-event related excuse. Yes, that means an actual training run, how novel.

Hyde Park route

I was away at a conference for most of last week, living it up in a central London hotel (ludicrous I know but then I wasn’t paying) and arranged to meet a colleague at 7am for a quick blast around Hyde Park. After much liquid networking the day/night before I wasn’t really on top form at the crack of dawn. I had been waking up every hour on the hour just to knock back a bottle of water but still had to de-fuzz my tongue when the alarm went off.

It was raining thankfully and I was able to run along with my mouth open and slowly rehydrate. I think we went a bit over 5k, I did have the garmin on but we got lost in the subway system at Marble Arch for quite some time and the GPS had long since given up the ghost by the time we resurfaced.

After that, me and my new found running legs made our way to the start of RPTT on Saturday morning. The Richmond Park Time Trial is quite different to the Bushy Park version, at BPTT you have runners mingling, stretching, jumping and generally warming up from about 8:30 onwards. At RPTT I’m always left wondering if they’ve switched the start line without telling me. With 5 mins to go the place is deserted until all of a sudden a bunch of lanky runners start swarming in from all directions.

Soaking RPTT Volunteers

I started at the rear (with the sweeper for company) and finished at the rear, recording my slowest time for the event so far – a clear sign that all that exam time slothfulness is still hanging around my hips, not for much longer though – I feel a flab assault brewing.

Most of the runners managed to finish up and clear off before the worst of the rain hit but I came round the final straight in a slow enough time to ensure that all the volunteers got a good soaking, that includes the first placed runner cum event photographer, Nigel Rothwell.

Just in case I wasn’t wet enough my bike decided to present me with a flat tyre so I had to walk home in the downpour.

Super fun.

Hypochondria and GNR Week 4/10

Here’s a quick update on the GNR training status. Quite a low mileage week but at least the runs were taken at race pace. Race reports to follow.

A scary article in Running Fitness suggests I should be up to 45 miles per week in my build up to a half – holy moley! I’ve no intention of racking up those miles too quickly though, I’ve been plagued with assorted right leg ITB niggles and right knee pain since I started and lately right ankle dodginess and if I’m going to get carried away with my hypochondria there’s a slight DVT type pain in my right calf! Need to keep these in check so I don’t have to bail before the big day.

Mon: nowt
Tue: 42 km bike
Wed: 8 km run
Thur: 42 km bike
Fri: 42 km bike
Sat: 27 km bike & 5 km race (BPTT)
Sun: 10 km race (SheRunsHeRuns)

BPTT Update For 11th August

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Before I start, I have to get something off my chest – why on earth would someone choose to enter the search string “grotty old women” and double why on earth would google decide to direct them to my site?

No grotty old women to see here – walk away from the computer, freaky google searcher!

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So back to today…. The GNR press gang otherwise known as OGB joined me for his first attempt at the running treasure that is BPTT. He’s an east end boy so took some persuading to venture so far west, the sort of persuading that omitted all discussion of the 9 mile cycle ride to the start and focussed instead on the smashing quality of the pubs in the Mortlake vicinity. He was won over but started moaning quite a bit when I woke him up bright and early and handed him my spare bike.

East end boy is a bit of a bike virgin. Twas an interesting ride, made more thrilling by the strange choice to leave his glasses at home. Having rendered himself virtually blind, OGB performed some hair raising junction maneovres that even the red arrows would be impressed by.

On the start line he does his usual trick of leaving me to fight my way through the sand storm he kicks up in his wake. I didn’t see him again til the end where I found him slumped against a tree in an exhausted and beetroot state. Good run then, 25:26.

I think I enjoyed my run, I had some company at the back of the pack so tried to stick in with a crowd. I was managing til the half way point when they either picked up the pace or I dropped off. In the final straight I tried out the technique of a Bushy Park pro – Suzan who kindly pointed out the evenly spaced trees were ideal fartlek markers. Two tree gaps semi-sprint followed by two tree gaps of my usual sluggish crawl. Nearly killed me by the midpoint but I finally fell over the line in 34:58.

OGB will get his own back tomorrow as I head across to the barren wasteland of East London to join him in a local race. We’ve signed up for the SheRunsHeRuns 10k held in a shopping precinct of the M25 – grief! I give him the beautiful landscape of Richmond and Bushy Parks, dotted with ducks, deer, parakeets and views of St Pauls Cathedral, he gives me a motorway, diesel fumes and a carpark!

And we have to be there at 7am.

A Twitching Post

I headed back to Richmond Park this evening for a quick(ish) run around the park with the novelty of daylight in my favour.

Heron

It felt pretty tough and my accompanying bike buddy was moaning rather a lot about the distance so I cut the route short by heading up a unfamiliar track near Ham gate. Ended up spotting some great tracks for future runs and I managed to sneak up on a rather fetching Heron in one of the many ponds.

Total distance was 8km. Doesn’t look like I will get a proper long run in this week as I am booked in for BPTT on Saturday and the crack of dawn 10k showdown in the shopping precinct (Bluewater) on Sunday. This means a brand new t-shirt is expected for my page any day now – its been hyped big time so I’m pretty hopeful for a page topping star.

The Road to GNR Week 2/10

Breastsrokes Serpentine 2007

My GNR training plan includes the dreaded interval session which is gradually turning ino the dreaded and therefore avoided interval session. I was hoping that a regularish visit to BPTT would suffice as my speed training component but that does rather require me to get there. This Saturday was missed as I was volunteering at a bizarre little charity event – Breaststrokes. I was by the Serpentine in Hyde Park by 5.30 am directing swimmers in to the path of rather bemused swans.

Thankfully the long run component of the schedule is working pretty well. Today I did my first circumnavigation of Richmond Park. Shakti cycled alongside me after I discovered a system for restraining her speed – I ran with my hand hooked in the cycle lock around her waist. Quite a relaxing system and she carried my water bottle for me.

Chuffed to bits with the distance but it was pitifully slow. At this rate its going to take me more than 3 hours to finish the half, quite a bit more than 3 hours actually. I clearly need to make room those dreaded intervals.

Weekly summary:

Mon: 42 km bike
Tue: 11.55 km run
Wed: 42 km bike
Thur: 42 km bike
Fri: zilch, zippo, nada (seems to be the Friday theme)
Sat: 20 km bike
Sun: 12.17 km run & 5 km walk