This week’s running – 13th to 26th August 2018

up_to_date

Updated and all’s right with the world again!

And we’re now all up to date!

5k recovery

Boy, oh boy. I really could have passed on this recovery run for a rest day instead, but I was dead set on getting back into a rhythm for some consistency in the three weeks ahead of the Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles from work

This was horrendous, where a poor choice of clothing (t-shirt instead of vest) and the combined humidity made for an incredibly difficult post-work run.

Upon returning home, all of my kit was completely sodden in sweat and I was wiped out for the rest of the evening.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles run-commute

Learning my lesson from the previous day’s suffer-fest in the humidity, I purposely put the brakes on to keep the pace and effort in check. Even then at such a pace, the humidity was still unbearable and made for a challenging time.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

And just like that, the humidity disappeared, allowing for 8 out of 11 of these miles to come in at 8:00 or faster.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Running Stories podcast

I very recently became a podcast interviewee!

A number of months ago, I volunteered to participate in a running podcast project. Orchestrated by Tom Charles, he wanted to speak to and record the accounts of a variety of runners and why they decided to take up the sport-come-hobby.

The angle for me was, unsurprisingly, this blog. In all there was well over an hour of recorded material, though this was distilled and edited down to just under 20 minutes. We all have little ticks and cues that we’re largely unconscious of in day-to-day speech and interactions with others, though these become glaringly obvious when captured for playback. Tom performed some black magic on the recording; upon my first listen of the finished episode, I had none of that, “Is that me? It doesn’t sound like me?” that so commonly plagues us when we hear ourselves recorded.

Without further ado, here are the links to the episode and others in the series on iTunes and Spotify. The podcast should also appear in the search function for those that prefer dedicated podcast clients like Overcast etc.

Cannon Hill parkrun

It’d been four weeks since the last time I ran at Cannon Hill, purposely going out of my way to avoid the off-road course.

I was in no mood for anything fast, so keeping the pace down to under 20 minutes was more than sufficient for that morning. Keeping the pace controlled at the start allowed me to continually reel people in for almost the entire duration, making for a pretty comfortable effort even in humid conditions.

With nobody in a rush afterwards, I partook in one of the longest post-run coffees I’d experienced in a very long time – one of the things I’d missed whilst busy visiting other parkruns.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles – to Brindley Place and back

Cooler conditions made all the difference, making this long run feel spectacular.

I settled into pace early on, which is often an indicator of how recovered I am, or not. Beyond halfway, I was able to steadily push the pace on whilst continuing to feel comfortable.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5k recovery

The cooler temperatures stuck around, helping to make this recovery run stay very easy.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles fartlek

*Sigh*

The temperature decided to yo-yo upwards after several days of cooler climes. I wanted a more structured run with some focused effort at pace, though the warm and humid conditions would have taken far too much out of me, so a fartlek run was swapped in.

Bridges and tunnels marked the beginning and end of fast sections, allowing for some stretches at effort to come at decent lengths.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles run-commute

I felt the effort of the previous day’s fartlek run, forcing me to really drop the anchor and keep my heart rate below 70% of maximum on this run-commute from the city centre.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

Lis and I signed up to a series of NCT (National Childbirth Trust) classes, requiring I scheduled some time off from work to be able to get my planned runs in before the course.

Running along the canals on a work day afternoon was rather peaceful, with most still clocked in. I did however bump into long-time running buddy, Ed Barlow, who like me frequents the canal towpaths for their convenience.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5k recovery

Proving what a small world it is we live in, Lis and I met a couple on our first NCT class who belonged to Kings Heath Running Club, and were also Cannon Hill parkrun regulars. Another lady on the course, due to give birth at the beginning of October, is still running regularly!

Sadly, there was no way to get a parkrun in before Saturday’s all-day class, so I had to make do with an easy recovery run around the neighbourhood.

I will promise you all now that this blog will not devolve into a parenting blog, though I will write about how I will balance running and being a parent once the little’un comes along. I’ll be the first declare that I switch off when the Marathon Talk podcast presenters open each episode with what their kids have been up to – they could at least try and link it up with running, though very rarely is!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Great Run Local Edgbaston

It’d been absolutely ages since I last ran at a Great Run Local event, made even more difficult with The Vale on summer hiatus due to its student organisers returning home for the break. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s room for both Great Run Local and parkrun to co-exist, and I’m grateful for both, especially as I needed a faster 5k fix after going without the day before.

Almost timed to perfection to coincide with the bank holiday weekend, the heavens opened up for a damp start to proceedings. Lis kindly dropped me off at Edgbaston Reservoir so that I was able to avoid public transport or the monstrous mileage required to run there and back. A warm-up lap of the reservoir was enough to get me into the groove and was just enough to keep the cooler temperature at bay. Dave Carruthers of Cannon Hill parkrun regular attendance also appeared to give me a familiar face to speak to; the two of us were referred to in the organisers’ briefing as fine running specimens (not word-for-word accurate), so there was pressure that morning!

Unsurprisingly, it was Dave and I straight off the line. I had the smallest of leads with Dave just nipping at my heels, confirmed by the sound of his footstrike. The pace wasn’t really coming to me with having to lead into the wind on the rough terrain underfoot. About a km in, the sound of Dave drifted further and further away until I was completely alone.

As the rain persisted, my t-shirt grew heavier and heavier to add to the effort. Passing through halfway, the timer gave me some feedback; I had 09:45 on the clock, so only had to keep the effort consistent or better to guarantee a sub-20 finish.

Somewhere around the third km, the pervading feeling of needing to piss haunted me again like it did back at the inaugural event in April! The cooler temperatures and standing around before the start had worked their magic once more… This was at least motivation to get things wrapped up as quickly as possible!

I began to encounter lapped runners with a km remaining, giving me something to chase down. Dave was at least 20 seconds away, so I would safely finish in first place, though it was still dicey whether I would slip under 20 minutes or not. Glancing at my Garmin, the timer ticked over into 19:00 territory and I knew I had to get a move on – easier said than done on the reservoir path’s broken surface!

Sprinting for the finish, the organisers cheered me in and then all quickly rushed around me to register my wristband. Here’s where the Great Run Local timing system comes across as a complete mystery, for I registered 19:42 on my own Garmin, the timer officially clocked me at 19:45 (confirmed by the results), and the official text message had me at 19:50?!

The run for home from Edgbaston Reservoir was a solitary affair. I encountered very few people on the canal towpath, and only one other runner. A hot shower upon reaching home was never more welcome!

Here and here’s the Strava data for these runs.

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This week’s running – 23rd July to 12th August 2018

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Tourism at Finsbury parkrun with Ian Saunders

Yikes! Almost a month since my last proper post… It’s simply been a case of some weeks with not very much happening and other weeks with too much!

Without further ado, let’s start from the top – the week leading up to the Magor 10k and finishing on the London Summer 10k. A post covering the 13thto the 26thof August to follow shortly…

5k recovery

The preceding weekend had wiped me out, though I still somehow managed to feel really positive on this recovery run. My heart rate came in low to suggest I was not overly worked nor in need of any major recovery…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Enforced recovery

Ha! I spoke too soon, didn’t I? The following day, I felt rough like I had developed the early signs of a cold. My heart rate was elevated and I couldn’t stop snivelling; I also seemed more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature.

Deciding that the then upcoming Magor 10k at the weekend was the priority, I took four whole days off from running – something practically unheard of for me apart from when injured, ill or recovering after a marathon. In fact, it probably was just after the 2017 Yorkshire Marathon when I last took a similar amount of time off from running.

The break did the trick, and just in a nick of time. Truth be told, the several days off from running were quite welcome from the effort of running in the warmth!

Magor 10k 2018 review

Click here for the full write-up on the 2018 Magor 10k.

5k recovery

This was so long ago, I can’t remember if there was anything of note!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles with 3 at marathon pace-ish

This was incredibly challenging and did little to boost my morale. Not only was I running constantly into strong winds, but my Garmin also decided to flake out on me, suffering greatly from GPS interference from almost every tunnel I went through, whether short or long.

I should have just made this a fartlek session!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

4 mile run-commute

This run was a little shorter than normal because my beloved run-commute bag needed picking up from a tailor, who replaced a worn zip for me. Very much a case of make-do-and-mend – the replacement zip and labour came to £22, whereas an entirely new bag would have set me back at least £60! And before anybody asks, I couldn’t get it replaced as a warranty job because the bag itself is almost three years old…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles from work

I could tell within minutes of starting that this would be a run of attrition. The humidity was really something and, for me, the least favourable weather condition. It’s just doubly-draining to run in humidity, where I’m losing sweat from trying to cool down, but not actually cooling down at all due to the sweat having nowhere to evaporate to!

I was wiped out upon finishing and quite glad that I didn’t have a looming marathon to train for.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The parkrun Running Challenges Google Chrome extension

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Running Challenges extension – available for Google Chrome and Firefox browsers

Fairly recently, a parkrun Running Challenges extension for the popular Google Chrome web browser (and even more recently, Firefox) was launched.

I realise that the above heading may make little to no sense for many, so allow me to elaborate.

What’s an extension?

An add-on, of sorts. They provide additional functionality not natively available in the Google Chrome browser.

What are the “Running Challenges”?

In parkrun parlance, there are some phrases and terms that frequently crop up from time to time. Terms such as Groundhog Day (two identical times, achieved consecutively), Stopwatch Bingo (every second, from :00 to :59 achieved), Regionnaire (all events in a region visited), so on and so forth. These are unofficial challenges that make parkrun even more fun than usual – kinda like sprinkles on ice-cream.

These challenges existed long before the existence of the extension, but what the extension does is handily do all the tallying and cross-referencing for you! For example, I had no idea I had :01 in the Stopwatch Bingo challenge elusively preventing me from completing the challenge!

The extension also provides fascinating statistics, such as furthest event visited from your home event, closest event yet to be visited, and more.

I’ve since been poring over the additional detail afforded. If you do choose to install, be prepared to waste a lot of time – you have been warned!

Coventry parkrun

With Cannon Hill parkrun temporarily utilising their alternative trail course on Holders Lane, I opted to take the opportunity to head away for a spot of tourism. I’ve nothing against trail courses, and actually quite enjoy them from time to time, though I had little desire to venture on to this route based on local feedback from various friends. With the above said Running Challenges extension in place, it was brought to my attention that Coventry parkrun was the nearest event that I’d yet to visit; the deal was done, for I had originally eyed up Cannock Chase parkrun.

Situated in Coventry’s War Memorial Park, it took me some 40 minutes to drive there from Kings Heath, even on a quiet Saturday morning. Parking was plentiful and free, courtesy of the neighbouring Park & Ride site that borders the southernmost section of the route.

Size-wise, the park felt pretty vast and you’d have little idea you were in Coventry, based on the lack of visible surroundings. The start and meeting area are situated next to the War Memorial monument, which aren’t difficult to miss.

Embarking on my warm-up, I could feel the undulations that a number of my peers had warned me about from their own racing experiences within the park. I was pretty tired from my spate of summer training and racing, and there were noticeable gusts of wind that struck – trying to stay under 20 minutes was the goal for the morning. The toilets at the café weren’t open before 09:00, and the additional toilets that were open beforehand couldn’t be found…

The War Memorial monument casts an impressive presence over the pre-run briefing. Looking around me, the crowd in attendance was as diverse as Cannon Hill’s, with a similar total number. There are few neighbouring events that take place on exclusively paved paths, so Coventry parkrun largely suffers from the same situation Cannon Hill parkrun finds itself in. Kenilworth Running Club fielded much of the volunteers for that morning, also taking the opportunity to promote their upcoming half marathon.

The start line funnel felt very similar to Cannon Hill, where I slotted myself in on the second row to allow those that knew the route to lead the way.

The start was frantic, with a horde of Kenilworth runners charging off. I chose to hang back and cruise at sub-20 pace to see who would drift into contact with me, hoping to use them for drafting assistance on that blustery, sunny and humid morning. As luck would have it, a Coventry Triathlete running a steady pace came into view, allowing me to lazily drop into place within his slipstream.

The two lap course takes in more than the southern half of the park, entirely on undulating paved paths. On tired legs, I found this deceptively challenging and upon reviewing the elevation profile after the fact, very little of the course takes place on truly flat ground.

Out volunteering was an older gent, who had racked up 200 volunteer stints at the event to much applause. Marshalling around 2/3 of the way into the lap, he wore a large comedy foam hand to receive many high-fives from passing runners. I laid one on him and thanked him, though quickly realised that the foam hand had probably never been washed… Yuck! Thankfully, I later found out that it only debuted that morning and had never been seen before.

Entering the second lap, the wind and humidity were getting to me and other runners. The Coventry Triathlete backed off the pace and I had to fend for myself. When it wasn’t windy, the course climbed and when the course descended, the wind struck! The second time around, I was able to better capitalise on the long downhill stretch to put me back in touch with two runners further ahead in the field that I’d wanted to latch on to. Pace-wise, I was doing fine and would comfortably finish in fewer than 20 minutes.

With around 800m remaining, I opted to speed up and finish strong and overtook several flagging runners. With around 200m remaining, I kicked once more, only to narrowly avoid calamity when another finishing runner drifted into my path whilst chasing a better racing line; I warned him of my presence, to which he was incredibly apologetic and drew side-by-side with me. With just 100m to go, he verbally challenged me to a sprint; I accepted and the duel was on! Whilst I had the initial lead, he was better placed to take advantage of the rapidly approach narrow funnel and had a little more in reserve as he hadn’t kicked from 200m out, beating me to the line by less than a second.

We finished in 19:42 and 19:43, respectively, and he was definitely the better runner with an 18:32 course best to his name. Adding to that, I measured the course long by almost 70m to officially be the longest parkrun I’d ever participated in to make that 18:32 even more impressive.

Speaking with Sam and a few of the locals afterwards, they agreed that the course is more challenging than it first appears, though commented that a reverse version of the course was utilised in the event’s earlier days, which was perceived to be slightly easier.

It was nice to have visited, and I’m sure I would probably visit again if I lived closer.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles – to Brindley Place and back

Sadly, it’s been so long since completing this run that I don’t remember anything from it, apart from the warmth and humidity!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Another break from running

I had a week away from work to take care of some DIY projects around the home, followed by several days in London with Lis.

Due to the aches from said DIY projects, I had no appetite to head out even for easy runs. In total, I abstained from running for a whole five days, beating the previous fortnight’s four!

Finsbury parkrun

With four days in London, including a Saturday, I had my pick of the litter in terms of events to visit. There are some handy write-ups online of people that have attained Regionnaire status (Lon-Done), helping me to narrow down my choices.

Having already visited Bushy and Fulham Palace parkruns in 2015, the logical choices were events closest to our King’s Cross-based hotel: Highbury Fields, Mile End and Finsbury. Highbury Fields was the closest by around 800m and has the reasonably unique honour of featuring 5x laps. Mile End was the furthest away, again by only a negligible difference, and featured a section on canal towpath. Finsbury parkrun was the closest to what a traditional parkrun would be considered, i.e. taking place within a park. I settled on Finsbury parkrun, which was also a doddle to get to by Tube, being only a single station away on the Victoria Line from King’s Cross. I invited my fellow 2017 Yorkshire Marathoner buddy, Ian Saunders, along for the jaunt for a catch-up, to which he accepted.

Arriving at the park, very vague memories of a former visit to the Fleadh Festival in the early 00s came back to me. My embarrassing music fascination – The Corrs – headlined the event and also played some unreleased songs from their then upcoming album, so I couldn’t resist…

The contrast between then and the now was very much like night and day – the park was largely unrecognisable without the thousands in attendance and all the stages and facilities erected. A friendly local on a bike behind me stopped to ask if I was a parkrun tourist. Stood there in my 250 Club t-shirt (its debut outing), we got talking and she very kindly pointed out the start and meeting point, along with a brief description of the course. Before parting ways, I asked her if it was that obvious I was a tourist that morning. She laughed and explained her reasoning to me: it was only 08:20 and I was very early (she actually had an errand to run before running) and she didn’t recognise me, aided by the fact that there are very few 250 Club member regulars at Finsbury parkrun. London gets a bad reputation for being cold and uncaring, but I’ve found all of my London parkrun encounters to be the complete opposite!

Warm-up completed, my assessment was similar to that of Coventry parkrun: undulations and plenty of them!

Before long, Ian appeared. It was great to see him again after the Yorkshire Marathon, where he’s only gone from strength to strength to smash the 3 hour barrier with a near sub-2:50 finish at Edinburgh, and a 1:20 at the London Big Half. If you want to really know somebody, you run a marathon with them and see how they conduct themselves – Ian was the perfect race companion that day in October 2017 and, needless to say, we’ve kept in contact since.

He was nursing an Achilles injury, brought on by a challenge to cover at least 5km every day for a year. I had the London Summer 10k the following day, so only wanted an easy run to reacquaint myself with running after five days without.

Interestingly, like the time I visited Bushy parkrun, Finsbury parkrun assembles everybody in the start funnel and then begins their pre-run briefing. Finsbury parkrun has the unusual feature of a closed to traffic road inside the park, much like you’d find in New York’s Central Park, enabling runners to not be in anybody’s way.

Ian and I were those annoying guys, chatting away at 4:50 per km pace and taking it easy whilst those around us were huffing and puffing in their own challenges. Even with a warm-up under my belt, the undulating course took some getting accustomed to. Paths frequently narrowed and widened, though it mattered not as neither of us chased a time on the two lap course. It was a beautiful morning for running in London, if a touch humid. A vest would have been preferable to the 250 Club t-shirt.

Facilities on our tour of Finsbury Park were impressive, with a 400m athletics track and small accompanying stadium also on view.

Towards the end of lap 1 was a ghastly climb before the course flattened out on its way into the second lap. Continuing with our discussion, I noticed one chap who had largely remained with us since the start and assumed he was using us for pacing, due to remaining fairly stable.

Nearing the finish, Ian had suitably loosened up and decided to kick for the remaining few hundred metres whilst I continued to sit steady. We finished in 23:20 and 24:07, in positions 94 and 112 out of 332, respectively. As you can see, not a huge turnout for a London event, of which they are plentiful. Impressively, a youngster ran 15:55 on the undulating course that very morning to leave both Ian and I wincing in awe.

We stuck around for a coffee afterwards in the café, though there were few who did the same. I was curious to get Ian’s take on his 2:50 marathon and 1:20 half marathon, and whether he had the desire to take them even further. The response was much like my own, where the additional work required does not always measure up against the outcome and we both ultimately concluded may not be worth it.

Travelling back on the Tube, we both bid each other farewell until the next time a race brought us back together.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

London Summer 10k 2018 review

For the full write-up of this race, please click here.

This week’s running – 16th to 22nd July 2018

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6th at Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun – Photo by Sarah Layton

An unusually low mileage week, after several in the high 40s to low 50s.

5k recovery

Slightly cooler temperatures made this 5k recovery feel like a breeze. Everything just clicked when it needed to.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

6x 800m at 5k pace

The recent focus on 400m intervals helped propel me to better attack this 800m session. Strong headwind slammed into me on the warm-up, signalling a challenging time ahead. But, in an unexpected double-edged sword kind of way, the wind may have actually allowed for the session to be completed in its entirety. I opted to not fight the gusts for at least the first rep, recognising that my legs normally take a little time to find themselves. The end result? A pretty satisfying set:

  1. 3:05
  2. 3:01
  3. 2:57
  4. 2:57
  5. 2:55
  6. 2:53

Without the wind, I reckon I’d have taken another 3-5 seconds off each rep.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles run-commute

The slightly cooler temperature remained, making running with a bag on my back slightly more forgiving than it had been of late. Having said that, I was still shattered upon finishing and opted to take the following day as unplanned rest.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun

I had a visit to Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun (my 28th different event) in my sights for a while, and this seemed like the perfect day for it on paper. I wanted a swift blast a week before the Magor 10k, with the low winds meaning a fast time would not be a fool’s errand. In a previous guise, Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun had a somewhat dubious reputation for being blisteringly fast, even with several switchbacks in play; it was concluded to measure a bit short and often produced runbritain SSS course condition scores with negative figures. This was remedied by altering the course to become almost 2x full laps of the path surrounding the racecourse.

I make it a habit of arriving nice and early to any parkrun I’m attending, whether it’s my home event or one further afield. There’s nothing quite like a relaxed, care-free build-up to 09:00; I despair whenever I volunteer as a marshal and see people racing from a carpark to the start line at 08:59… So early was I, the course markers hadn’t even been laid out yet! I didn’t feel particularly sharp, mainly due to heat and prolonged fatigue from what has been a torturous spring-summer. My warm-up confirmed the morning was likely to be a tough one…

Unsurprisingly for a younger event that’s barely a year-old, there were only around 200 participants in attendance. Oddly, it’s also one of the few events I’ve been to where a large contingent of runners chose to wait next to the start line rather than listen in on the run briefing. With just 200 people, it wasn’t a crowded event and there was ample room on the start line for anybody that wanted to seed themselves higher to do so.

I was caught off-guard by how fast the start was, with my Garmin registering in the 3:20s a few times during the opening couple hundred metres! There were people ahead of me that were definitely not going to finish anywhere near me, giving me a temporary crisis of confidence!

Before too long, the field thinned out and I found myself in the unenviable place of no-man’s land. The next chap behind me was around 20 seconds away, whereas some 10 to 15 seconds ahead of me was a pair of teenage boys. I willed them to split apart and drift back towards me, but no joy.

I continued on my own and began to take note of the varying terrain. Whilst most of the course is well-paved, there were some sections that were made up of broken path akin to that of Edgbaston Reservoir (a few hundred metres around the start area) and a short section of wood chips around 1km in. All of this added to my thoughts of the course not being as fast as billed, with Walsall Arboretum still ranking at the top in terms of being fast and locally accessible.

As I neared the end of the first lap, my prayer had been answered and one of the youngsters in front of me broke off and began drifting back to me quickly. Once we made contact, I gave him some encouragement to stay with me – partly for some company, but also because I like to lend a helping hand where I can. He drew shoulder to shoulder with me, but his breathing was all over the shop; I told him we were going to run an even pace so that he could steady his breathing. Amazingly, the distance between us and the other teenage lad in front remained perfectly static with no growth or shrinkage. Pace-wise, we were right on target to dip under 19 minutes if we could keep things ticking along.

With 1km remaining, the effort bubbled upwards. I continued to give my sidekick plenty of encouragement to stay on target; he occasionally slipped from the pace, but I always got him to draw level with me again. Once we reached 17 minutes on the clock, I started to give him time updates and suggested he begin wrapping things up if he was close to a PB. At around 200m remaining, he pulled ahead by a couple of strides to reach the grassy straight first out of  the two of us. I continued to holler time updates until he crossed the line, with me 5 or so seconds behind.

He was wrecked, but had enough breath to ask me what I registered. I showed him my Garmin, with 18:55 displayed, and suggested he had 18:50 or so to his name. He fist-pumped the air and let out a big, “Yeeees!” I asked him what his previous best was, which turned out to be 19:13 for a huge chunk taken off that morning. Next to us was the event’s PB bell; he seemed unsure of whether to ring it or not, to which I urged he definitely should as he’d earned it. He heartily rang the bell and thanked me before collapsing on the grass for a breather.

I stuck around to talk to a few of the locals before wandering off to complete another lap of the course for a warm-down. Worryingly, I felt the same rush of nausea that I experienced a week prior after finishing Cannon Hill parkrun. I’ve chalked it down to good old fashioned heat exhaustion and, thankfully, I remained on the right side of the effort line to avoid an embarrassing situation!

All in all, Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun was bitter-sweet. It wasn’t nearly as fast as I’d hoped for, but helping a fellow runner break new PB ground stopped the morning becoming a waste.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles – to Solihull and back

I could feel my body waving a white flag from all the hard racing and training it’d been through. As such, I didn’t feel another 15 mile slog would be the most sensible of options, and instead opted for just 10 miles to Solihull and back.

It’d been months since I last covered the route – the last time, I was almost knocked down by inattentive driver! Working in my favour was the cloud cover overhead, taking the edge off the warmth. Working against me was the undulating route that I’d forgotten all about…

Also not helping was my fixation with hitting 7:30 miles. They felt reasonably effortless in the first half, which was net downhill and had a slight tailwind. The return, with its net uphill and headwind, was much more challenging on tired legs!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 2nd to 15th July 2018

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In attendance for Alex’s 100th parkrun – photo by Lisa Conner

Gah. Another two weeks rolled into one.

5k recovery

The oppressive heat took its toll, even in the early evening. My average heart rate came out at 135bpm, compared to 130bpm for the same pace back in May.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

6x 400m at 5k pace

This particular week was slightly experimental because I wanted to rediscover what my body’s threshold is for tapering.

The previous week’s 10x 400m session went down a treat, in spite of leaving me feeling quite nauseous upon finishing. Chopping the rep count down to 6x would inject just the right amount of intensity without overdoing things.

As per the previous week, the first two reps were a write-off where my legs were just getting into their stride:

  1. 1:27
  2. 1:27
  3. 1:21
  4. 1:22
  5. 1:22
  6. 1:22

Here’s the Strava data for this session.

5 miles run-commute

I took a day off from running on Wednesday due to work team-building activities. Whilst I declined the go-karting element, I happily partook in the steak dinner afterwards! Some of you will remember the injury I received from go-karting back in March, resulting in me abandoning a run at 4 miles to catch an Uber for home. With the Wythall Hollywood 10k just days away on the horizon at the time, I didn’t want to risk anything, though I did look longingly at the go-kart circuit as I’d have easily been a contender for first place that afternoon with my power to weight ratio advantage – the fastest guy of the day was still a stone heavier than me!

With the above factored in, I shifted my week to run-commute on Thursday instead. I’ve written before about how challenging running with a bag on your back in elevated summer temperatures is. I become more easily dehydrated as my back continues to leach out sweat as my body desperately tries to cool itself down, to no avail. In the winter, the bag is a welcome addition as it’s an extra layer to fight off the cold!

The conclusion so far was one day off from running did nothing to harm my form, as my glutes were still active.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

2 mile shakeout

Whilst I had ambitions of running easy Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the final day never materialised as I was that damn tired that I treated myself to a lie-in.

Running on Friday felt really weird. I can probably count on a single hand how often I’ve done it and I suspect many may be in a similar position, especially if they’re parkrun fiends like me.

Temperatures continued to soar and take their toll on me. Whilst I originally set out for 5km, 2 miles was quite enough for me to keep my legs turning over and to stop my glutes from slumbering.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Wythall Hollywood 10k 2018 review

Please click here for the full write-up.

5k recovery

Much like the last couple of Mondays following heat-compromised races, my body felt pretty good from the capped efforts of the races beforehand. My form also felt on point from the prolonged exposure of faster running only a day prior.

So, what conclusion did I reach regarding tapering? My body loves running and taking more than a day off from it is counter-productive due to a temporary loss of finesse; I’m sure we’ve all had the Bambi on ice feeling after a longer than intended layoff, no? Running an easy 5km or so on the Friday before a race seems to keep everything ticking over and in check for me.

I’m still unlikely to cover a parkrun at an easy pace the day before an important race, though I will now consider it before a tune-up event.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10x 400m at 5k pace

The temperature dropped slightly, making this session feel a tad easier than it had in the past.

With 60 seconds rest in between, they turned out to be a pretty satisfactory bunch of splits:

  1. 1:26
  2. 1:27
  3. 1:24
  4. 1:26
  5. 1:25
  6. 1:25
  7. 1:25
  8. 1:25
  9. 1:24
  10. 1:22

I enjoy these 400m sessions far more than their 800m counterpart, though I’m getting a niggling feeling that I need to return to 800m to re-bridge the gap between speed and my strength of endurance. Few things in running happen in isolation…

Here’s the Strava data for this session.

5 mile run-commute

Also known as Andy’s quest for a new stick of Body Glide…

Sod’s law would of course dictate that I somehow lose a brand new stick of Body Glide before it had even really had any use? The stuff’s not cheap either at £12 a stick on the high street! I’d searched high and low at home and at work with no joy. However, I keep stumbling upon the empty stick that I threw away – I wouldn’t have minded if I’d have lost that one whilst it was on its way out! Naturally, after having bought a replacement, I’m going to stumble upon the missing offender, aren’t I? At least they don’t have an expiry date…

My form continued to feel super-charged from the 400m session, even at what was only recovery pace as I ran for home with a bag on my back.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles from work

The humidity got the better of me as I battled my way from the office for home along the canal towpaths. It’s so energy zapping! My breathing and heart rate were largely fine, though each step felt like a real struggle. The climb on Fordhouse Lane nearly finished me off!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Normality ensued at Cannon Hill as the whole gang came together to celebrate Alex’s 100th run – even Nigel, who’s been nursing an Achilles injury.

After Thursday’s medium-long run, I was dog-tired. The warm-up jog to Cannon Hill Park triggered a -6.0 condition score on my Garmin; for reference, I’m normally a -5.0 if things are bad…

Whilst I didn’t intend to end up racing, the red mist was too powerful to decline. After 1km on my own, I ended up tailing Dave, as he was wont to do to me once upon a time. I stuck to him like glue in spite of his best efforts to lose me.

We remained in sequence until making contact with Andy Young, who prompted me to take the lead and overtake a large group of runners ahead of us. I took his challenge on and surged clear of him and Dave, gaining what felt close to 10 seconds in the process. Little did I know that Dave had anticipated when I might make a move; by his own admission, 3km would have been the ideal point to secure victory, owing to his endurance deficiency over longer distances.

He caught me with perhaps only 300m remaining. I had no response on that particular morning, already elbow deep into a 50+ mile week with a race every fortnight behind me since early May… I had just enough inside me to sneak back in for 18:59, when just a 19:30 would have been satisfactory.

Next week will see me touristing to the fast Worcester Pitchcroft parkrun, where the previous route had the dubious honour of regularly netting a negative SSS course condition score on runbritain…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles – to Brindley Place and back

I get a huge kick out of long runs; there’s something masochistic about a training run that lasts for hours, especially when conditions are less than ideal. There’s a real sense of satisfaction derived upon completion that I don’t seem to receive from other staple runs in my week.

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McGuyvering the hell out of staying cool on the run!

Anticipating a warm one, I tried a new hydration trick that came to me like Thomas Edison imagining the light bulb. I part-filled my runner’s bottle the night before and threw it in the freezer to set. Just before heading out the door, I filled the remaining empty space with cold water and added an electrolyte tablet. And voila, I had a makeshift hydration tool that kept my hands cool for the first 30 minutes or so whilst the ice melted, turning into cold electrolyte liquid for the remainder of my run. Starting off cool is one thing and hanging onto being cool is another thing entirely. Try it for yourself!

Heading out a few hours earlier than usual, I was surprised to see so many who also had the same idea. Passing through a tunnel, I could hear somebody closing in on me very quickly; were they running an interval session (unlikely on a Sunday), or were they trying to catch-up to me? To my surprise and delight, it was Ashley Fawke – fellow Cannon Hill Crusader – out on his long run. We chatted for a little over a mile, where you can clearly see his pace nosediving, via Strava. Whilst only brief, it’s always fascinating to speak to a significantly faster runner than me, where Ashley confirmed my own thoughts on several topics.

Once through halfway, I still felt good from the ample shade and lower temperatures, and decided to progress the pace. It’s a strange day when you can run up a hill faster than you can run down it; I inadvertently ran a PB on the Fordhouse Lane climb segment!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 18th June to 1st July 2018

heatwave

Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Life has been very busy, so two weeks rolled into one again.

7 miles with 1 at marathon pace and 1 at half marathon pace

Tapering into the then upcoming Wilmslow Half Marathon, I wanted to reduce volume whilst hanging on to some intensity. I cheated once more by catching the Metro after work to the my old stomping ground of the Jewellery Quarter, allowing for around 7 miles with me easing myself in for a single mile at marathon pace and then a mile at half marathon pace.

I felt like I was in great shape from all the recent racing, surprising myself with a 6:13 mile whilst running into the wind on a warm evening. I’d have been satisfied with 6:18-6:20 from previous experience! At this point in the week, I was almost certain I would at least score a new half marathon best by the end of the week…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles with strides

In hindsight, I tapered too much going into the Wilmslow Half Marathon. Aside from the race, this particular run was just one of two for the week from a norm of six out of seven days. I wrote about my glutes feeling like they were distinctly missing during the race and this hard taper was part of the reason. My body likes to run frequently, so I’m going to adopt more a little-but-often approach ahead of the Wythall Hollywood 10k.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Wilmslow Half Marathon 2018 review

For the full write-up, please click here.

5k recovery

The warmth of the previous day’s race had two effects on me. The first, it conditioned me to run at effort in warm conditions. The second, it prevented me from going all out; whilst I was tired and felt like I’d worked, I didn’t feel nearly as battered or bruised like I’ve done in previous eyeballs out races.

Trotting easily for this recovery run, my heart rate was a good 2-3% lower than what I would have expected normally, let alone the day after a race. Even whilst recovering, my lungs felt supercharged from the Wilmslow Half Marathon. Oh, and guess who’s glutes finally decided to show up?

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

With the heat sticking around, I upped my hydration game throughout the day and even took a bottle of electrolytes out with me. Slow and steady was the order of the evening, so as not to overly tax my body. I continuously searched inside for feedback, namely for an idea of how far to run. The last couple of weeks of racing and tapering for some events more than others had left me wanting for an injection of training normalcy. 9 miles became 10, then ultimately 11 feeling really good.

I have just two more 10k races coming up before a long 6 week block of training ahead of the Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon. Speaking of which, if any of you listen to the Running Commentary podcast, it was my suggestion of Lake Vyrnwy that convinced Paul Tonkinson and Rob Deering to seek the race out. As performing comedians, they found the prospect of a 13:00 start incredibly inviting!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

Leaving the city centre, I was puzzled initially at why the congestion was so awful and how I was able to overtake so much stationary traffic. It wasn’t until I neared the Belgrave Interchange that I realised Edgbaston Cricket Ground was hosting a match. Spectators heading to the venue increasingly lined the pavement, forcing me to frequently run wide or sometimes run on the road. Thankfully, traffic was gridlocked, so I only had to glance behind me on occasion for cyclists, with none appearing.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10x 400m at 5k pace

To run faster, you must run faster.

Whereas my marathon and half marathon performances have come on leaps and bounds in the past two years, my 5k has remained stagnant. My 10k ability is now closer aligned with my half marathon, so I think it’s about to turn a corner for something sizeable at the Wythall Hollywood 10k or Magor 10k.

But what to do with my 5k? 800m reps just don’t feel like they’re cutting the mustard like they used to, so I decided to give 400m reps a shot. The purpose of interval training is to allow exposure to a challenging pace in smaller bursts, which otherwise would be difficult if not impossible to sustain as one continuously paced run.

Discussions with Dave Burton indicated I target a pace of 3:35 per km for 10x reps, with 60 seconds in-between as a rest. The first two were a little shaky, but otherwise I was very pleased with the outcome:

  1. 1:30/3:44 per km
  2. 1:28/3:38 per km
  3. 1:25/3:32 per km
  4. 1:23/3:27 per km
  5. 1:25/3:32 per km
  6. 1:22/3:25 per km
  7. 1:24/3:30 per km
  8. 1:25/3:32 per km
  9. 1:27/3:37 per km
  10. 1:25/3:32 per km

Rep 9 was hampered by thick tree cover overhead upon finishing, falsely slowing it down – it was bang on target until then.

I surprisingly found 400m intervals to be more beneficial for my needs than my former go-to of 800m intervals. In spite of finding my feet for the early reps, I locked in on target pace and I was able to hold it for the remainder of the session. I also identified my form adjusting to eke out every last ounce of speed from available resources, which should trickle down to slower paces becoming more efficient over time. A few more of these sessions and maybe, just maybe, I can reverse the 5k stagnation trend.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Due to racing, being away from home and various other reasons, it’d been more than six weeks since I last ran at Cannon Hill. I looked forward to covering the route, only to find lorries on-site for the In The Night Garden live show installation, forcing Cannon Hill parkrun’s hands into utilising the 3x lap course. The last time I ran this particular course, I found it incredibly challenging as lapped runners splayed out all over the course in an unpredictable manner. Adding to the numbers that morning was a Sikh group completing their Couch to 5k programme. The guys and I all envisioned a messy event…

Ironically and if not for the numbers at Cannon Hill, the 3x lap course is actually pretty fast due to the clockwise direction it follows. Runners gain more on the short descent and they lose less on the long and gradual climb up to the bandstand.

Whereas my lungs continued to feel strong, my legs had clearly not recovered from the session two days prior. Whilst I had the strength to hold steady, I struggled to move into a higher gear, and nor did I want to bury myself in the pursuit. I spent much of the first two laps with Dave, with him creeping away at some point after 4km, thanks to his recent 5k focus giving him an edge; he finished in 19:03 and me in 19:08.

It’s likely there’ll be further disruption at Cannon Hill due to various events over the summer, so expect some tourism from me in the not too distant future.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles – to Brindley Place and back

Whilst I had plans to get up early and avoid the heat, I ended up turning my alarm off and sleeping through… Whilst it was indeed warm outside, I was cruising on the training effects of the Wilmslow Half Marathon and recent runs in the warmth.

Early on into the run, I happened upon a £5 note on the floor to perk me up nicely!

I was amazed at the number of runners I saw out there without anything for hydration; it wasn’t even a gender thing because both sexes were as bad as each other. I purposely held back from drinking from my electrolyte bottle until the second half. I’d already overdone pre-hydration and ended up peeing twice in the 10 minutes before leaving home, only to then need to pee again 20 minutes into the run…

Just in case you’re not warm enough already, I witnessed a pair of runners – could have been father and daughter, or coach and student – running in long sleeves and tights. Yes, you read that right. I felt delirious just watching them!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

 

 

This week’s running – 11th to 17th June 2018

andy_yu_walsall_arboretum_parkrun_01

All aboard the pain train at Walsall Arboretum parkrun! Photo by Ron Reynolds

An unconventional week, though no worse off for it.

5k recovery

It’s normally expected that I feel worse the following day after a race. When I feel about the same, if not better, then I know that I there was something more that I could have given. This held true here, where the Aldridge 10k barely felt like it touched my sides! Frustratingly, my glutes began firing correctly, whereas they were noticeably dormant during the race…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

7 miles from the Jewellery Quarter

It’s not very often that I find myself in the Jewellery Quarter these days, despite it being home for four years.

This particular route allows me to chop about 2 miles out from my normal 9.5 mile route from the office, whilst still keeping it at a reasonable distance. The reason for this was two-fold: I wanted to softly begin tapering ahead of the upcoming Wilmslow Half Marathon by reducing volume, and I had a track session pencilled in for the following day and needed to be relatively spritely to capitalise on it.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

800m, 1600m x4, 800m

Ah! A rare outing to visit the University of Birmingham running track! Can you believe it was before Christmas that I was last there?

As anticipated, I was on my own and used the official entrance to get in rather than skulking through bushes and in-between fences. Some gardeners were tending to the grounds in preparation for upcoming school sports days – every time I’ve visited, there have been gardeners present!

The plan was to cover 4x 1600m reps at half marathon pace, with a lead in and lead out of 800m at 5k pace for variety.

Despite being pretty well sheltered by surrounding trees and buildings, a breeze persisted to be felt on the final bend, home-straight and first bend! The sun came and went overhead, resulting in me opting to run bare-chested and work on my tan whilst I was at it.

Factoring in that GPS and 400m running tracks don’t gel well together, here are the splits:

  1. 800m: 2:53/5:48 per mile
  2. 75 seconds rest
  3. 1600m: 5:58/6:00 per mile
  4. 60 seconds rest
  5. 1600m: 6:02/6:04 per mile
  6. 60 seconds rest
  7. 1600m: 5:56/5:58 per mile
  8. 60 seconds rest
  9. 1600m: 6:03/6:05 per mile
  10. 60 seconds rest
  11. 800m: 2:48/5:38 per mile

The session, though challenging, was incredibly satisfying to complete. The track surface is beautiful to run on with plenty of traction, feedback and propulsion from its surface. I was able to lose myself in the running and not require keep an eye out for others as I often need to on the canal towpath. I couldn’t stop sweating at the end of it and was thankful I had a bottle of water with electrolytes for between reps and afterwards.

Here’s the Strava data for this session.

7 miles from the Jewellery Quarter

Very much a repeat of Tuesday’s run, though I felt dramatically worse due to ill and poor preparation beforehand from the office.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Walsall Arboretum parkrun

It’s traditional the week before a target race that I seek out a fast effort from a parkrun. A bout of focused pace, that’s not too taxing in terms of recovery, does wonders to sharpen up.

In need of a return visit to Ikea, Walsall Arboretum parkrun made a lot of sense, especially after Dave Burton’s fresh PB from last week on the fast and flat course. Dave was game for another bash on the course, so came along. Sadly, conditions weren’t quite as optimal as a week ago, with noticeably more wind blowing, and drizzle leaving the ground underfoot slightly slick. Saying that, though, my 18:14 PB from the course in 2016 was run in wet conditions, so who’s to say what’s possible anymore?

Lis and Dave’s brother, Paul, were present for spectator duties with the course affording six opportunities to spot runners from a couple of vantage points.

A decent warm-up in the bag and we assembled on the start line. I was genuinely nervous and could feel my heart racing away; I knew what would unfold would be painful, no matter the outcome!

The start was fast as anticipated with me falling into place outside of the top 10. My target pace for the morning was 3:38 to 3:40 per km; hanging on to 3:40 for the opening split felt harder than it should have – most likely due to the Aldridge 10k and Wednesday’s track session still remaining in my system.

I found myself occasionally flanked by a couple of guys, though I seemed to be doing the lion’s share of the work in pacing terms. I would have joined the group ahead, but over 5k pace, they were too far off in the distance to reel to leave me reluctantly in place.

Whereas I’d started off on target pace, I just couldn’t sustain it and ended up falling back to around 3:50 per km.

Walsall Arbortum parkrun is a compact, three lap course. Entering the second lap, I began encountering slower runners and occasionally had to bellow out, “Keep left,” just as the marshals did. People seemed to take it well enough, with one lapped lady cheering me on as I passed her sounding like a steam train. I was in a hell of my own making!

GPS seems to struggle on the Walsall Arboretum course, with measured distance all over the place. Historically, I’ve felt the course is potentially short, though this would make little sense as the start and end positions are not dictated by necessity and could easily be moved further apart if the distance is indeed short. With a supposed km remaining, I was unsure how near or far away I was from my secondary goal of a new PB that morning. It wasn’t until I had some 500m remaining that I realised I was in with a shot of breaking new ground if I could lay down a big kick…

andy_yu_walsall_arboretum_parkrun_02

Please forgive my tan lines – photo by Lis Yu

Rounding the penultimate bend, I tried with all my might to put rubber down to the ground for something substantial, but it just wasn’t happening. Even with the gentle descent all the way to the finish, I simply couldn’t generate the necessary power to keep up with the several guys that rapidly passed me. The look on my face in the photo at the top of this post says it all!

Crossing the line drenched in sweat from the effort, it was bitter-sweet to learn I’d run my fastest 5k in 2 years for 18:22, also my third fastest 5k of all time, but still needed 9 seconds to challenge my 18:14 PB. Working my way through the funnel, I was surprised to discover one of the guys that stuck to me like glue was the same chap that narrowly beat me to the line at the Aldridge 10k! Tom joked that I had become his personal “tormentor”, though I reassured him that I would not be in the vicinity any time soon to put him at ease.

Frustratingly, my official plastic barcode failed to register in the system for me to end up with an unknown result. The barcode scanned because I heard the audible beep, so I’ve binned it rather than allow it to wreak any more havoc. Kindly and swiftly, the Walsall Arboretum team amended the issue for me within a few hours with no fuss – thank you!

A little more to come with some focused pace work, though I’m struggling to think of where I can find another 23 seconds to break 18 minutes!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

12 miles – to Brindley Place and back

Whereas I would have normally gotten out for my run in the morning, I ended up sleeping in and completing a few errands before needing to be somewhere for lunch time. Before I knew it, 3pm had rolled around!

Conditions were deceptive; on the surface, the afternoon appeared to be cool with overcast skies. The reality was noticeable humidity to leave my t-shirt drenched – I really should have worn a vest.

People say you should leave around 3 hours after eating a meal before attempting to run. Personally, I stick with 2 hours for carbohydrate-rich meals with low protein, and nearer 4 hours for protein-rich meals. Well, I had a protein-rich meal comprised of dim sum to leave me pretty uncomfortable!

To make matters worse, I enjoyed a tailwind on the out leg, only to be faced with a headwind on the return to add to the discomfort!

I definitely prefer running long in the morning on Sundays, where I feel like it has far less of an impact on the rest of the day.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 4th to 10th June 2018

andy_yu_simon_bull_aldridge_10_2018

Simon Bull and me (sans vest) at the Aldridge 10k – photo by Lis Yu

A soft taper week ahead of the Aldridge 10k.

5k recovery

I think after last week’s sweat-fest runs, adaptations began taking hold inside me. Contrary to my expectations of feeling beaten up, I ended up feeling not too shabby with my legs and heart rate able to comfortably keep up.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5x 800m at 5k pace

What a difference a couple of days can make! Dramatically lower humidity and a little more recovery meant I was better able to handle the demands of this session.

Erring on the side of caution after last week’s miss, I boosted the rest period to 75 seconds, which turned out to be unnecessary if the following splits are anything to go by:

  1. 2:57
  2. 2:57
  3. 2:54
  4. 2:53
  5. 2:53

Pretty near as damn it in terms of precision!

Here’s the Strava data for this session.

5 mile-run commute

Due to staying late at the office to prepare for work’s 200thanniversary (how many businesses can boast such longevity?), I was in two minds about skipping this run and heading straight home having been on my feet all day. My OCD kicked in and a committed run is a non-negotiable run; besides, work paid for some Domino’s pizzas that were waiting for me at home – calories that hadn’t been factored in for the day!

Much like on Monday, I expected the worst from my legs but was pleasantly surprised to discover they were really quite spritely. Clearly still retaining much of the good form from the previous day’s 800m reps, my glutes fired correctly and my stride trailed correctly behind me despite the recovery pace.

Oh, and for clarity because people have been asking, I personally categorise my runs as run-commutes if I carry a bag on my back. Whilst I run from the office three times a week, two of those runs see me carry the absolute minimum (phone, wallet, keys) via a Flip Belt around my waist.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

4 miles into this run, I regretted not whimping out and dropping the run entirely. I’d once again been on my feet all day preparing, celebrating and then cleaning up after work’s 200thanniversary. If I didn’t run on Thursday, it meant the next time I would be running would be during Sunday’s race; this particular week wasn’t to be too low in mileage terms, so you can see my initial reluctance to sack it off.

My legs were tight, especially my IT Bands that were in need of foam rolling. At least I only had 9 miles and not 11 to run!

Running up the incline on Fordhouse Lane, I noticed a woman around 100m away from me making the hill look incredibly easy. Once on flat ground again, I overtook her. She wore earphones and uttered, “Whoa. Fast,” not realising how audible she was! She beat me to it and I was left dumbfounded, just as I was about to share similar words with her attack on the hill.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

With the Aldridge 10k the following day, Lis and I volunteered once more at Cannon Hill parkrun. It’s been weeks since I last ran at Cannon Hill!

Nothing of particular excitement, however I did meet Tom Charles – a chap that’s launching the Running Stories Podcast. I agreed to become an interviewee and there’ll be more on this next week.

Aldridge 10k 2018 review

For the full write-up, please click here.