parkrun, trail running

Soham Village College parkrun and the Ely Runners Christmas 18 miler.

After a heavy October, I have kicked back a bit:  I have ran way fewer miles in November, and yet carried on eating at the same rate.  I have kicked back too much, I have gained a few pounds (not a major problem) and have definitely lost some fitness.  My fault!  I have some serious training to do in early 2020.

I have just two things to report: the new Soham Village College parkrun, and the Ely Runners annual Christmas 18 miler (oh, and maybe a little review of the year).

 

Soham Village College parkrun.

parkrun, is, as we all know, is a global phenomenon, and thanks to two fanatics, it has come to another part of our little corner of the world.  Andrew Scarlett and Jon Price discussed Soham Village College parkrun ages ago, it has been a real slow burn in its planning, and with the help of a core team of Run Directors (of which I am one) and volunteers, a trial event took place on the 16th November 2019.  We are now at event number 4.

Some of the Soham Village College parkrun volunteers. It only works because of people like this.

I have enjoyed working on the social media and promotion for this parkrun, and with the help of Neighbourhood Cares Soham, we managed to reach out to the local community.  It is really early days, but so far, we have had enough volunteers to cover all of the roles needed to allow parkrun to happen each week, and we have had a respectable turnout of people to walk/ jog/ run the events.

Two of our superb, regular volunteers.

Soham Village College parkrun is an interesting one, with some twists and turns, and time spent on the concrete of the College grounds as well as on gently undulating fields. It may not be a PB course, but it is a fun and varied one, which will certainly help with anyone’s 5K times.  Come along and see what you think!  It’s brilliant!

 

The Ely Runners 2019 Christmas 18 miler. 

This is one of the BEST events in the club calendar!  Members can choose to run from Woodditton to Ely (cross country), which is just over 18 miles, or a couple of shorter options. All distances are demanding, mainly due to mud, the undulating terrain and the fact that it really is a bit of a technical run.

Ely Runners gathering at Woodditton. December 15th 2019.

This year I ran the best part of the route with running buddy, Emily.  We covered the trail though woodland from Woodditton (ups and downs, tree roots, mud) and along the amazing Devil’s Dyke, which gives stunning views of the surrounding countryside, and requires you to run along a very high path lined in clumps either side with Hawthorn; Blackthorn; Wild Rose bushes; thistles and general all-round prickly stuff!  It’s great!  The wind made the run a little more demanding, but not as much as the mud and puddles as the terrain turned more ‘Fenland-like’.  We met up with Charlotte, who wore the BEST festive costume (see if you can guess who she is from the pic above)!  Sadly, as we got to the second food and drink station, Emily decided to cut her run short as she was not feeling so great.  We tried some sublime Rolo Vodka and Sloe Gin, provided by the amazing Claire, and then we carried on.  For the rest of the run, we stuck with Martin (who I ran the Kings Forest Ultra with) and Allistair, another amazing Ely Runner.

Me and the brilliant Emily!

I found that the Sloe Gin and the Rolo Vodka led to a slightly elated feeling as I took in the views and enjoyed the banter with my fellow runners; however, the drinks did repeat on me a fair bit!  Speaking of banter, there was a lot of it and I’m not sure it should be documented here: needless to say at times it was controversial (it often is when Charlotte is around)!

It should go on record though, that after Emily had ran off to find undergrowth and bushes, behind which she could ‘spend a penny’, she ended up with loads of those burs (hooked seeds) in her underwear: upon rejoining the trail she looked somewhat flushed and loudly announced ‘I’ve got seeds in my under-crackers!’  Emily, it would have been wrong of me not to record this for posterity.

At the first food/ drink station with Charlotte, Kyle and a ‘donkey’.

Once we got to Ely (and that last slog with the Cathedral in sight is tough), it was time for a shower and slap up roast lunch, organised by the Ely Runners Social Secretary and superb running buddy, Lauren Thomas.  All in all a brilliant event!

 

2019

It’s been a crazy year for me, with many highlights and personal achievements: 26 races (including my first duathlon); getting very close to my 100th parkrun; delivering my first one-to-one coaching sessions; delivering my first track session; completing 6 ultra marathons (and getting my Positive Steps Grand Slam tankard); winning the Ely Sporting Hero Award (The Ely Hero Awards) as well as the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Award (inclusion category); supporting people with a learning disability and/ or autism to enjoy parkrun.  Hard work like this doesn’t happen in a vacuum: it requires support and understanding from loved ones, great running buddies and an amazing club.  I have loved 2019!

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No more now until Peddars Way in January 2020!  Merry Christmas!

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Devil’s Dyke, the brilliant Bedford Running Festival, and the England Athletics award.

I have ultras to run soon: the Ely Tri Club Ultra this month and the Kings Forest and Stort 30 next month: plenty to focus the mind.  Things don’t always go well!  Read on!

When things go badly. 

I am the kind of person who doesn’t always learn from mistakes the first time round.  Once before I have ventured out on a longish run, seemingly well-prepared and equipped, only to realise that it has gone wrong due to heat, and poor hydration the day before.  I allowed this to happen again, in a big way over the recent bank holiday weekend.  The decision to run from Burwell to Woodditton and back along Devil’s Dyke was a little last-minute.  I am given to understand that we had record temperatures for an August Bank Holiday in the UK, and I decided to leave my run until late morning.  My thinking was that it is important to condition oneself to hot days, as you can’t choose the weather on the day of an ultra, so I ran it later on this baking day:  the reality is I am lazy and wanted to lay in bed a bit longer!

I adore the Devil’s Dyke run:  it is scenic, quiet, and I have never failed to see amazing wildlife.  The run to Woodditton was fine, although I was very hot, and had drank over half of the water I had in my ultra vest at this halfway point.  There is a garden with plum trees in Woodditton and the owners had left a sign out saying ‘help yourself’.  I ate three of the most sweet and watery out of season plums, and began to feel better almost right away.  This did not last long.

Burwell to Woodditton along Devil’s Dyke: very little shade!

The run back was starting to feel very difficult, and this surprised me a little, as I had only ran just over 6.5 miles, and I am used to greater distances.  I was drinking what was left of my water very quickly, and yet I could not satiate my thirst:  this, together with a slight stagger in my gait and a sense of dread I could not quite put my finger on started to really concern me.  It was at mile ten that I realised I might be in trouble, as I had water left, but was starting to feel quite unwell.  I was covered up enough from the sun and had applied sun cream and block where needed: but wow, it was hot!  The final three miles turned into a kind of run/ jog/ walk affair – and I hate to walk when out on a run.  Two miles out from where I had parked my car and I seriously thought about sitting in the shade of a bush and calling someone to come and rescue me; but, being a stubborn chap (or a fool), I decided to press on.  I was staggering like I was drunk when I got to the 13 mile point.

When I got to my car, I had already drank all of my water.  I started the engine and got the air conditioning going, and found a bottle of Lucozade in the boot that I had decanted and flattened and put back in the bottle for the Stour Valley path.  I didn’t care if it was off: it went straight down the hatch!  I then sat in the car and cooled down before driving into Burwell to purchase a lot of full-fat Coke!  I necked it all and sat in the car for another ten minutes before driving home.  I felt rough for the rest of the day, and I genuinely feel that were I further out than three miles from my car, I would have been in serious trouble.  It was an unusually hot day (proper hot), but I am sure it was down to poor hydration the day before.  Maybe I will learn this time!

The 2019 Bedford Running Festival.

I ran the 10K at this running event last year with top running buddy, Lauren girlrunninglate.  It is known for the superb atmosphere, pleasant route and amazing medals!  No different this year!  Sadly, Lauren was not able to make the 10K and Half Marathon she had booked, as she has been nursing an injury (which she was and is gutted about), but at least there were other Ely Runners to enjoy the weekend with.  I decided to treat the 10K as a tempo run, as I did not want to do anything silly given some important events I have coming up, but mainly as I was due to run the half marathon the next morning.  I really enjoyed the run and the route, and I was pleased enough with my time given what I wanted from the race.  Fellow Ely Runner, Chris and his wife did amazingly, as did the superb Charlotte, who posed with me to help Erdinger Alkoholfrei boost their sales!

Sarah and Chris Clowe, with a Charlotte photo bomber at the back!
Boosting sales of Erdinger Alkoholfrei.

The organisation, marshalling and race village was all superb for the 10K!  The next morning I made my way back to Bedford for the half marathon.  I simply could not face hammering it, and once I had gathered with Ely runners, Don; Shaun and Jon, we decided to have a steady run round the race in order to take it all in.  This half marathon turned out to be one I will never forget: we had huge fun and had great chats with people along the way.  The three of us were in awe of a few Ely Runners who lapped us early in the race and went on to get amazing times, and we all had a laugh and a show off for the photographers.  Just once in a while, I like to get round an event without doing it in anger: it is good for the soul!

Don, Shaun and Jon: amazing running buddies!

Do enter the 2020 Bedford Running Festival! It is amazing, and you get extra bling for running more than one race!

Multiple bling at the 2019 Bedford Running Festival!

The 2019 England Athletics Volunteer Awards

Due to a kind and thoughtful nomination by fellow Ely Runner, Natalie Andrews, and the fact that her nomination was shortlisted, I won the 2019 England Athletics Easter Region Volunteer award (Inclusion category).  This was for inclusive approaches around the Ely Runners Beginners’ course as well as my work promoting access to parkrun for people with a learning disability and/ or autism.  I was invited to the Bedford International Stadium to have lunch, meet the other category winners and some England Athletics Officials, including Neil Costello, who presented me with my award.  I was greeted by friendly staff, who looked after me, gave me food, showed me to the showers (I had just ran the Bedford Half Marathon) and talked me through the awards ceremony.  I watched the athletics event at the Stadium and was presented with my award.  It remains to be said that the stuff I have done to be nominated could not have happened without platforms such as my employer, Thera East Anglia Thera East Anglia and the amazing Ely Runners Ely Runners and its beginners’ coaches.

The 2019 England Athletics Volunteer Awards.

What next?  The Round Norfolk Relay and The Ely Tri Club Ultra!  I will post again after these and before the Kings Forest Ultra, the Flower of Suffolk 18 miler and the Kings Forest Ultra!

Always hydrate well the day before a run!

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Sessions 9 and 10

How is a standard club run or parkrun relevant to ultra training? Well, it’s time spent on my feet in the lead up, but more importantly, it is approaching things in a way that puts me out of my comfort zone. I have always felt that longer runs are much more about the mental struggle than the physical one, and attention to mental strength is vital. So, I am trying to make all runs, including the shorter ones, more difficult.

The club run on 15/11/18 was your bog standard loops around Ely. As hard as I am finding opting for the open level option, I am trying to force my self to do so. Four laps instead of three made my run just under 8 miles. I ran with different people than I usually do, and it was great to chat with club members, Cara and Serena, both of whom asked about me training and showed a genuine interest: support from club members is vital, and these ladies left me feeling more confident. I think chatting with them pushed me to go for that lonely final loop.

Friday was a day off, and it was very much-needed, the legs were and are hurting. It is interesting how the fatigue is moving around my body; only a few days ago it was the area near my upper Achilles; that has eased off, and now the quads really ache! Roll on the massage with Becky next week!

There are some very committed Parkrunners in the club, and few match the dedication and attention to detail of Andrew and Jon! Today we decided to drive to London and back in order to have a stab at Victoria Dock Parkrun, we needed a Parkrun beginning with V (let’s not go there).

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Yours truly with Andrew and Jon at Victoria Dock Parkrun.

How is this relevant to ultra training? Well, although I very much wanted to join Andrew and Jon at this event, I did not want to get up as early as I had to, and I did not want to run hung-over, but I did! I must maintain my strategy of making myself do stuff I might edge out of.

As usual, Andrew set a crazy pace, and I am not sure how I kept on his heels throughout. I was chuffed to bits with a sub-22 minute run given the sore head and heavy, aching quads! Jon ran blindingly and look incredibly strong at the finish! Parkrun tourism is a joy! It is very beautiful around the Docks on a sunny winter morning!

This is all relevant!

Longer run tomorrow.

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Not bad for Mr Hung-over jelly legs!