22 Nov 2013

942.87 - 972.08KM: One Step Closer (Lincoln Park Run & Stilton Stumble)

This weekend I am set to reach the 1000KM target after running the Norwich Half Marathon on Sunday (24th). Amidst all the excitement and plans for the weekend I had almost forgotten to write up about last weekend's races. First up was the inaugral Lincoln Parkrun, an event I had been waiting years for and very nearly missed. Then on Sunday I would run my 45th race of the year with the Stilton Stumble in Cropwell Bishop, home of the Stilton cheese.

942.87 - 947.87KM: (Inaugral) Lincoln Parkrun

In 2008 I moved to Lincoln to go to University, after starting running the year before in a drastic attempt to get fit. Around the same time I became aware of the Parkrun and after 5 long years of waiting, this past weekend Lincoln finally got in on the party. A party I would almost miss.

For those familiar with Parkrun you'll know that the 'rules' are simple, turn up at 9am every Saturday with your barcode for a free, timed 5K run. No barcode? No time. So at 8am when I went downstairs to print out my barcode before then leaving everything seemed simple, only with me things never are. 20 minutes and numerous altercations with the printer later I still had no barcode. Eventually I ended up having to manually colour the barcode blue and then print that out instead, before then embarking on my first 3 mile run of the day just to get to the start on time.

Hidden within the masses
As I approached the park through the back entrance, I began to see marshals in the distance, after asking the first couple I came across whether or not I had missed the start, they managed to decipher what I said under much panting and informed me that I still had 4 minutes to go. Before long the start came into sight and I could see there was a big turnout, a very big turnout. The total number of runners would later be confirmed to be 276, meaning there was a bigger field than about half of my races this year, with such a large turnout it's hard to say that the people of Lincoln didn't want a Parkrun. The number of running clubs in the area along with the thousands of people that run the Lincoln 10K each year is again testament to the passion the city has for running, yet it took four long years of negotiations before it came into being. I'm unsure on the specifics, but in the speech beforehand it was mentioned that there were numerous difficulties with the local council, but these no longer matter as now, finally, Lincoln has its own Parkrun.

Last month I went on a hunt for a possible route for the Parkrun at Boultham Park and I found that the park was too small to not have to run around it multiple times. On Saturday I found that the course would require (almost) three full loops of the park, before coming in to the finish at the bandstand. At 9am the introduction to all the runners began and everyone was welcomed to Lincoln's inaugral Parkrun. 10 minutes later the formalities were out of the way, I had just about caught my breathe back and the crowd made their way to the start line. I say just about as when the run started the frantic dash to make the event was still taking it's toll and I struggled round on the first lap having already used up most of my energy.

99 to go...
I wouldn't exactly find any more energy in the next two laps either, eventually crossing the line of my first ever Parkrun in little over 23 minutes. Earlier in the year I set my 10K PB at the Lincoln 10K and in turn also set my 5K PB of 19 minutes 16 seconds. Saturday's time was almost four minutes slower than that, which given it is only a 3 and a bit mile race, is quite a lot. Whilst there were a lot of factors behind this time, running a flat out 5k to even make the start being the main one, I must still admit to being a little disappointed with my time. Still though it leaves a lot of room for improvement, I imagine I should be able to target knocking a minute or so off at my next one.

The event brought many 'tourists' to Lincoln to celebrate the inaugral Parkrun, many wearing their Parkrun 'clubber' tshirts, celebrating the numerous Parkruns they had clocked up. I have to admit I was eyeing the 100 club ones up, I've still a long way to go (99) but I intend to pop down every spare Saturday. Unfortunately I have races lined up on the next couple of Saturdays, so my next Parkrun will have to wait until the 7th December.

Laying off the cakes for a while should see me get my 5k time comfortably back under 20 minutes, allowing for me to hopefully finally run a sub 40 10k next year. I've since purchased some barcode tags so in a couple of weeks time when I'm free to run my next Parkrun I should be a little more prepared. All I will have to rely on is leaving in plenty of time so I'm not already knackered by the time the run starts.

Distance: 5.00km | 3.1 miles
Time: 00:23:05
Official Time: 00:23:04
Average Pace: 04:36 min/km | 07:24 min/mi


View my run:

947.87 - 972.08KM: Stilton Stumble 24K

On Sunday I was originally scheduled to run the Rother Valley Half Marathon, however in the week before I received an email saying that the event had been postponed for 'unforeseen (and undisclosed) circumstances'. Fortunately I had kind of signed up for that race by accident, I had been eyeing up the Stilton Stumble for that weekend instead, but when it came to signing up it had slipped my mind. So after I finished reading the email I jumped across to the Stilton Stumble website and made sure to sign up for my 45th race of the year before the entries closed.


My dad was originally set to be running the Rother Valley Half Marathon with me, but after that was cancelled he offered to join me on the rearranged race, ensuring that I would not only have a lift to the race but I would arrive in plenty of time. Over an hour before the start in fact, allowing me plenty of time to go to the toilet a few times before joining the crowd for the start of the race. As another event in it's inaugural year the field was relatively small, the race had both a 10k and a 24k option, with the majority (myself excluded) opting to choose the former. 

A combined start of both the 10k and 24k runners led to some pacing difficulties early on. Typically I (foolishly) try and settle into a pace based on my impressions of those around me, with runner's running two very different races this, psychologically at least, tricked me into trying to run a little faster than was comfortable. Fortunately the split for both races came within the first few miles and I soon got to see who I was really racing against.

For the first time in a long while my legs felt completely empty, much worse than the Great South Run, and as I'm nearing the end of the year I'm expecting my body to just suddenly start falling apart. I didn't really have time for that to happen though, I still had about 12 miles to run (and then another 7 races still to go this year). One thing I am rubbish for is properly warming up/warming down before and after a race, the fact I've gone this long without injury is more down to luck than anything else.

Possibly the best photo ever taken of me running
If Saturday's run was about looking forward, then Sunday would be about looking back as the race felt like a throwback to races earlier in the year, in particular the Newton's Fraction Half Marathon and St. Valentines 30K. Whilst it certainly wasn't as hilly as either of those, for a race that described itself as 'fairly flat' there was more than enough inclines to see the race as an homage to those previous races. One particular hill around the 12 mile mark did make me laugh, particularly when I thought of what my dad would make of it, I'm sure the answer isn't repeatable on this blog.

More often than not failure to take any kind of strategy with me into races comes back to bite me in the arse, thankfully though in this instance my legs were too tired to even run particularly fast. I had set myself a rough target of finishing inside the 2 hour mark before the race and before I knew of the hills and how I'd be having to drag myself round most of the course. So to finish just outside this was pleasing, maybe next year I'll come back and enjoy it more.

Aside from a potentially better and more enjoyable race, the main advantage of having to swap Sunday's race was the inclusion of having to run an extra few KM. These few extra KM now mean that this Sunday (24th) I will reach the 1000KM at the Norwich Half Marathon, in my homeland of Norfolk. Every week in this blog I've tried to calculate when the big milestone will come, but after having impromptu races thrown at me every week it has come much earlier than anticipated. I haven't really got anything planned for the big occasion, but to do it back in Norfolk at a race I have a fair bit of history with will mean a lot more than most of the other ways it could have happened.

Finally a quick update on Jenny's health, for the most part she has been well, she recently celebrated her sixth month of topical steroid withdrawal but doing so seemed to then prompt an eighth bout of Eczema Herpeticum earlier in the week. Thankfully the warning signs were spotted early on so the appropriate treatment was able to be taken and now she seems to be on the mend again, until the next time.

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.

Distance: 24.2km | 15.04 miles
Time: 02:00:55
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 04:59 min/km | 08:00 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Stilton Cheese


View my run:

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