This week’s running – 2nd to 8th of February 2015

All the people at Bushy Parkrun

All the people (at Bushy Parkrun)… So many people (at Bushy Parkrun)…

This week was about more consistency and paying pilgrimage.

10k fartlek

After last week’s sharp fartlek sesh, I was fully expecting this week’s scheduled run to be much the same. But the sting never arrived, and whilst I was working hard, I was always just about on the edge of control.

I also decided to use manual splits to better determine the distance of the fast and slow sections, along with the pace. Previously, it was simply a case of run as fast as I could and to make the most of the (sometimes short) recoveries. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the paces spanned my 5k to 10k spectrum, and went some way to explaining the decrease in perceived effort at Parkrun.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

There was one tale of woe in this session: my Adidas Adios Boosts are pretty much shot in terms of outsole grip, or at least the right shoe is. My right foot rolls outwards ever so slightly, which means the outsole edge of shoes takes the brunt of the impact and wears away first. Compare this to my left foot, which is perfectly neutral in its landing, with barely any outsole wear and tear at all. A cracking pair of shoes, which were gratefully received as Parkrunner of the Month for July last year – I’ll be sad to see them go.

5k from work

I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I was able to run majority of the stretch from the office in daylight! It wasn’t until I hit Brindley Place when it actually became dark and required I switch my head torch on.

I think with another few weeks under my belt, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to head back to Edgbaston Reservoir for sessions in the evenings.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10k along Hagley Road

Depending on whether you look at the splits for this run in miles or km, I either royal flushed or I didn’t.

I wasn’t intending to run it progressively, but you know how it goes occasionally; when you’re feeling good, sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Bushy Parkrun

Map of Bushy Park

Bushy Park is ginormous!

For fans of Parkrun, the Bushy Park course is the equivalent of Elvis’ Graceland. Originally known as Bushy Park Time Trial, the venue is home to possibly one of the most important grass roots sports movements. Bushy Parkrun regularly sees in excess of 1,000 runners per week, with a proportion of that bulk made up of people like me looking to pay pilgrimage to the hallowed venue. I’ve participated in road races that have had fewer participants!

One 6am start and a 2 hour drive later, Lis and I had arrived. Because we needed to dash off to London afterwards, we parked the car at Hampton Court train station, less than a mile’s walk away – perfect for a jog warm-up en route. The on-site car parks at Bushy can seemingly become a bit of a bun-fight to both get in to and out of.

Bushy Park is bloody huge. The course only utilises the eastern half of the park, sticking mainly to the outer perimeter paths where possible, and taking runners on to grass when not. Bushy Parkrun has a reputation for being flat and fast, but I still I wondered whether the grass sections would have much impact on me in terms of speed. Looking at the last few weeks’ results, there appeared to be plenty of people in the 19:00 to 20:00 minute bracket to work alongside as compensation; a luxury outside of big city races.

400m effort at 5k pace done to get the cylinders firing, and I was ready to earn my breakfast. Lis and I stopped to talk to Tim, a Bushy Parkrun regular, for some tips and advice. Tim had recently completed 102 runs, all exclusively at Bushy, and he explained that Bushy Parkrun actually holds its pre-run briefing on the start line. This made a lot of logistical sense, with no point having 1,000 odd runners meet at location A, only to then walk them over to location B if it could be avoided.

Andy Yu at Bushy Parkrun

Vest? Check. Shorts? Check. Pneumonia? Pending…

Stood on the start line, the reality of the morning’s near-freezing temperature hit home, with most others around me in long-sleeve tops and tights; only a select few were mad enough like me to don vests and shorts… Due to the large field, the organisers at Bushy even had their own portable PA system! Impressively for such a large event, we also started almost bang on at 9am.

The Bushy Parkrun start line is super-wide

The start needs to be wide to regularly accommodate 1,000+ runners

With such a wide start line and the initial 1km straight, the mass of runners I found myself in dissipated quickly. I still had to keep my wits about me due to the grass terrain potentially masking a few dips and bumps. I had set my Garmin virtual pacer to 3:50/km for a rough 19:15 to 19:20 finish. My pace hovered at just faster than target; I felt like I was just on the cusp of working too hard to maintain the pace, due to the lack of energy return from the grass.

Turning the corner into the 2nd km, the terrain underfoot became a firm path. Runners around me were still jostling for position, causing me to go wide at a few points. Not being familiar with the course also made choosing the shortest line tricky. The rest of this particular split had me drafting behind a few guys to try and regain some composure from the fast opening km. One strange thing I saw was one lad running in studded football boots… The boots may have helped on the grass at the beginning and end, but must have been difficult to run in during the 3km of solid path!

For the next 2km, I slowly picked away at runners ahead. Noticeably, a lot of them were fading and had probably gone out too quickly. I continued to work hard, but still remained in control with only a few seconds short on target.

Andy Yu at Bushy Parkrun

Racing an old boy at Bushy Parkrun

Entering the final km, I could see the front-runners through the trees in their dash for the finish line. The closing stage of the course took me back on to grass for an awkward loop around some trees for further slow-down. I continued to reel runners in, but the field thinned dramatically and left only a few people to chase down. Once I had reached the closing straight, I kicked hard to overtake a further two guys before reaching the finish for 19:18.

19:18 and 31st at Bushy Parkrun

I’m glad I went sub-20, otherwise I’d have to go back for another attempt!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Safely over the finish line, the final guy I overtook congratulated me on a good run, not expecting me to come out of nowhere behind him. I was gasping for air and could only manage a handshake with him whilst we made our way through the longest finish funnel ever. I didn’t get a chance to witness the double/triple funnel in action, where it seems they’re utilised most around the 25 to 28 minute mark when it’s not unusual to see over 100 runners coming through per minute. Scanned in and confirmed as 31st, Lis and I made a beeline to get out of the park and into London. Seeing the sheer volume of runners yet to finish was a sight to behold at Bushy.

I had a thoroughly good time at Bushy Parkrun and it was worth the effort to get there. The one lap configuration worked well, creating a real sense of progress through the run that multiple laps simply can’t match. It was also such a novelty having plenty of people to run with, even into the late stages of the course.

Oh, and it seems I even made it on to their weekly run report, too!

Andy Yu made it into the Bushy Parkrun run report

Totally worth the 5:15am get-up and 2+ hour drive!

10 canal miles

Surprisingly, getting up at 5:15am and going to bed at 1am didn’t have too much of a negative impact on me. Nonetheless, I chose to keep the scheduled 10 miles easy to keep things in check.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside, with blue skies and enough sun to convince me sunglasses were the right move. There were plenty of runners and cyclists out on the canals, including chance encounters with Darren Hale and Iain.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

And here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

You will hear the theme from Rocky

For road racers, hearing the theme from Rocky isn’t a question of “if,” but “when.”

During any given race, the chance that you will hear the theme from Rocky blaring at the start/finish line, or from a spectator’s stereo along the course is 75 percent. If the race is in Philadelphia, that probably soars to 98 percent.

Little-known fact: Regardless of location, age, gender, ethnicity, or income, precisely 67 percent of runners will react to hearing the Rocky theme during a race by raising both arms and pumping their fists.

This is the real-world manifestation of what mathematicians call the Stallone Constant.

Strange but true!*

*This is not true.

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