Alloa Half Marathon!

This morning was a funny one for me. Alloa had been a target that I set myself back in January, as I was just starting to get some fitness back, after a fall from a curb in December left me with a badly sprained ankle and a severely bruised ego. Instead I found myself packing a bag to spectate at the event after the National X-Country of three weeks ago left me with stress damage to my shin. As much as I was gutted to be missing the race itself, I was excited to have the chance to see plenty of our ‘Runbetweeners’ running group in action – some of whom were taking part in their first ever attempt at the distance.

Race logo

As we drove down to Alloa the forecast was mixed. Glasgow seemed destined for rain but the BBC were adamant that the weather at our destination would merely be ‘cloudy’. Pulling into Alloa however it was clear that this would not be the case and, as the sun broke through a sky as blue as my Bella vest, I found myself shedding layers and preparing for a hot one. The run was a busy one and a crowded start area generated a fantastic atmosphere as the unconventional choice of ‘Westlife’ blared out over the speakers –  I guess that’s one way to ensure people get a quick start out of the blocks!

image7

The runners passed me by after a one mile loop brought them back round past the start and it was exciting to see the lead pack being chased down by a group including Colin  Thomas of Bellahouston Harriers and Shaun Lyon of Greenock Glenpark Harriers. As other familiar faces made their way down the course, it was nice to be able to offer a cheer of support and report back to interested parties. It wasn’t long before Paul Burningham flew by as the first of the Runbetweener contingent. Paul’s recent form has shown fantastic progress and he seems to be setting himself a PB every time he dons his trainers. Today would be no different.

image4

It was exciting to be watching Vicki taking part in her first half marathon since completing her debut at ‘Balloch to Clydebank’ last year. As she glided past enthusiastically, it was fantastic to see the progress that she also has made with her running and it was clear that she would be looking for a big PB today.

image5

Once the remaining runners had disappeared around the corner I set about on the most important mission of the morning: coffee. Rumour had it there was a D’nisi in Alloa and I was determined to find it. I was in luck. A short walk into the town centre and I was rewarded with a huge cappucino and the weather even took another turn for the better! I made my way back round the course away from the finish in order to see the runners coming into the final mile.

image1

Colin was the first Bella Harrier to come flying past en route to a finish time of 73:58 while Russell Whittington of the Road Runners, fresh from a Kenyan training camp with Colin, crossed the line in 78:13. There were several good performances in windy conditions including a great run by Neil Nairn who managed to improve on his time from last year by an impressive 5 minutes.

image6

I started to make my way back to the finish and it was great to see all of the Runbetweeners racing hard as they made their way down the long final stretch towards the welcoming, inflatable archway. At the finish line we discussed the race over some home baking and free samples of a strange BCAA concoction that was being handed out. Generally, the feedback was very positive with the event seeming to generate a good atmosphere and enough runners to maintain a good depth to the field. It was highlighted however that several water stations had run out by the time that some of our runners reached them and that the large crowds and limited toilet facilities meant that several runners missed the start as they were waiting in queues. I can only imagine that the unexpected hot weather meant that more water was being consumed than the organisers may have anticipated but it was a shame that some of the runners then had to endure the heat with no way of re-hydrating themselves. Hopefully this is something that is addressed for next year’s event.

image3

This was a fantastic turnout from the Runbetweeners and we managed to get 14 of the group across the finish line! Hopefully we can choose another race in the near future to target and get another great showing. Well done to the following Runbetweeners who absolutely smashed it today: Paul, Jill, Susan, Sarah, June, Jacqueline, Vicki, Pauline, Anne, Kirsty, Angela, Stephanie, Liz, Jennifer (Sorry if I’ve missed anyone!)

image2

Reading about running…

IMG_3971.JPG

I love to run. I also love to read. It will come as no surprise therefore that my bedside table is always hidden under a mountain of books and magazines about running. I am always on the lookout for new recommendations and often have people ask me to share my own favourites so I thought I would stick all of my opinions in one place by writing them down here! Please let me know your own thoughts and suggestions so I can continue to fuel my habit…

There are too many for me to cover in a single blog post so below you will find a mere selection of my favourites in no particular order…

Two Hours – by Ed Caesar

img_3970

Kenny and I are both big fans of the ‘Marathon Talk’ podcast and I had heard them discussing Ed Caesar’s ‘Two Hours’ a couple of times on the show. After their discussion of the book throughout December I started putting hints out to Vicki that it would be a great present and lo and behold, on Christmas morning I had a shiny new copy of it nestled under the tree!

The book did not disappoint and is a really interesting read with plenty of information about the marathon as an event. It follows the history of the marathon from its formation up to the modern day and discusses the changes in approaches and attitudes to the distance over the years. It also follows the story of Geoffrey Mutai and his rise to marathon prominence. The book would definitely appeal more to someone who is interested in following professional marathon running and its history as opposed to someone who is purely focused on their own enjoyment of the sport.

Born to Run – by Christopher McDougall

btor

One of the first books that most people will encounter when looking for something related to running, this was a real eye-opener for me. It manages to combine interesting stories about running, technical theories and a sense of adventure all in a very light and enjoyable book. The different elements that make up this book are all very well balanced which help to make it very readable for anyone with an interest in running who is not necessarily looking for something too scientific or technical. This is a book that I would read again.

Natural Born Heroes – by Christopher McDougall.

nbornh

Having read and loved ‘Born to Run’ (see above), I was very excited about Christopher McDougall’s latest work. This one promised to deal with our natural ability to overcome physical challenges and consider some phenomenal feats of strength and endurance. I was particularly interested in this book as it appeared to deal with lots of the concepts which I had encountered in my time spent training in Crossfit.

The book was actually very different to what I expected. Large chunks of it are based around the historical events of WWII on the island of Crete which I was not expecting at all. This was however really interesting and these chapters proved to be some of my favourites. There is not as big a focus on running in this book as I thought there would be but it is an interesting and enjoyable read nonetheless.

Running with the Kenyans – Adharanand Finn.

rwithk

Another classic which seems to be on every runner’s bookshelf. I came to this pretty late and it had been recommended to me by loads of my pals. This is another book which combines interesting stories with a sense of adventure as it follows Finn’s experience of running out in Kenya and also those of moving his family out with him. It is not a book that will provide you with any real information about improving your own technique or running ability but will definitely provide some inspiration to get out and run. This is possibly my favourite running book to date.

The Way Of The Runner – Adharanand Finn.

wayofther

Inspired by my enjoyment of his earlier book, I recently picked up a copy of Finn’s ‘The Way Of The Runner’. In this work Finn travels out to Japan to learn about the fascinating culture that surrounds endurance running in the country and also the Ekiden running community. The different approach of the Japanese to running is an interesting contrast to that of his experience in Kenya although it does mean that Finn struggles to get as involved in the running community in this book. There is still however a fascinating insight into the sport and, having read this, I have made it a priority to get out to Japan myself and experience the running culture of a country which produces an unbelievable number of elite marathoners. Again, this book offers little in the way of technical information but huge amounts of inspiration and fascinating experiences.

Advanced Marathoning – Pfitzinger and Douglas.

a-marathoning

This was another book which  I had heard being referenced on ‘Marathon Talk’ as Tom Williams followed one of its programs in his own marathon preparation. After it was also recommended to me by a running friend, I decided to investigate further. This is a very detailed technical guide to marathon running. It can be split into two parts: the second half of the book is a collection of training plans based on different weekly mileages; the first half is a detailed explanation of the theory behind the plans and the reasoning behind each of the sessions which is prescribed. This means that you could quite easily just use the programs and get the benefit of clearly structured training, however I was also intrigued by the theory and enjoyed learning about the different types of training and the physiological effects that these would have. This is a very detailed, technical book which is aimed providing the information that you would need to train for a marathon. These does make it a fairly challenging read (particularly if, like me, you have limited scientific knowledge when it comes to physiology!) but it was interesting nonetheless. I often dip into the book when planning my own training but is not something that would be read for entertainment.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Vassos Alexander.

26-2tales

This was a book which I sought out after hearing an interview with Vassos on a podcast. I did not know the extent of the man’s running obsession and I was intrigued to find out more. The book is structured as a series of short chapters based on his own experiences which makes it very easy to dip into when you have a spare few minutes. It is a very light and entertaining insight into Vassos’ experiences of running and provides plenty of funny and also inspiring stories based on his running exploits.

At the start of every chapter, Vassos includes an insight into the experiences of a different runner and we get a snippet of information about a huge range of characters including the Brownlee brothers, Jenson Button and Nell McAndrew. These fascinating interactions add another element to the book and make it a fun and easy read.

There are plenty of other books on my shelf which I am working my way through so this post is certainly to be continued…

Running with an Olympic Legend!

Last Friday I finished work, jumped on the train and made my way down to Sheffield for my sister-in-law’s birthday. After a fantastic evening filled with food, drink and catching up,  I set my alarm for an early morning adventure at Sheffield Hallam parkrun. Now I have actually done this parkrun before however last time I was sneaking out of my hotel on the morning of my brother’s wedding armed simply with a map and my barcode. This time I was a little better prepared and had the luxury of a lift and some company for my morning as my dad would be running also while my mum and brother watched on with a coffee.

img_4004

As we walked into the park things looked much busier than my last encounter here. On my run in December 2014 there had been just 354 people taking part, on this Saturday there were over 700. There had been rumours circulating that local hero and Olympic Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis would be taking part in her first parkrun on this very morning and it appeared that this prospect had drawn out a lot of runners! I was a little starstruck when I lined up alongside Jess on the startline but I managed to get a cheeky selfie before the run instructions began and she was great.

img_4009

As the countdown to the start began it became clear that this would be a congested start. The BBC had cameras on Jess as she lined up at the front and I think a lot of people were keen to get in the picture! After a few seconds we were away and it took me a while to find my stride. The initial section of the course involves a small loop before heading straight back up the path from which you have started. In these busy conditions it was a little tricky to maneuver through the crowds but eventually things opened up and we climbed the path through Endcliffe Park. The route follows a gentle slope up alongside a rive until eventually leaving the park. A sharp right turn then leads into a long steady downhill section on the pavement just outside the park itself. On my first lap it felt as though it took up to this point for my legs to really get going (possibly due to my poor warmup – I may have been slightly distracted by Jessica Ennis!) but the long downhill really gave me a chance to open up and get some pace going.

img_4007

At the bottom of the hill it was another short loop inside the park before heading back up the slope again. This time around I found that I was overtaking runners and gaining on the runner in front. I started to settle into my rhythm a little and began to feel strong. As I hit the top of the hill I turned right and prepared to push down the hill towards the finish but things were just a little crowded. The pavement was only really wide enough for two people side by side so it made it a little tricky to pass. I was able to pick up the pace a little but definitely had more in the tank.

img_4006

Coming into the finish again was very busy but the marshals were fantastic. The huge turnout made it a little awkward as the final mini-loop is very tight and it is a little difficult to get through the traffic to the finish funnel. The parkrun volunteers did a great job however of making this as clear as possible and, while it maybe cost me a few seconds, it was a great atmosphere and a lovely route.

img_4008

After the run I got chatting to a few people from other parkruns. Notably, Paul Sinton-Hewitt was taking part and made the time to have a chat with me about parkrun. I told him of my experiences on the core team at Rouken Glen junior parkrun and of my trip to Bushy park on Christmas morning. He was brilliant and had plenty to say about running in Glasgow and of his experiences with the community. I also had a good chat with a guy from Woodhouse Moor parkrun who was working his way round the Yorkshire events.

img_4005

All in all this was a great morning. My two Sheffield Hallam parkrun experiences have been fantastic and both stand out for different reasons. I wonder what will happen next time I am down…

Happy Birthday – The Runbetweeners Turns 1

If it hadn’t been for a Facebook reminder this one would have passed us by completely. So it was a hastily organised first birthday celebration at training tonight. Thanks very much to John from Brookes for donating the cake.

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 23.10.39.png

 

A year of many personal achievements for all our members and it’s been great to see you all progress and catch the running bug whether it be road, trail, 5k, half marathon, full marathon or triathlon.

 

Keep signing up for races, telling us about the best ones, and encouraging new folk to come along to Glasgow’s friendliest running group.

Dunfermline parkrun

Last minute plan to head somewhere exotic for parkrun last Saturday with Dunfermline narrowly winning out over Ayr. Friday night selection criteria was for a parkrun we’d:

 

a. Not done before; and

b. Could get to without getting up stupidly early.

 

So we set off at 7-45 arriving at Pittencrieff Park shortly before 9am giving us the unusual (we’re never early) luxury of some sightseeing and route scouting in advance of the run. The park is full of plenty interesting things to see and was busy even at that early hour, not only with marshals setting out the course but with new year resolutioners arriving en mass for their military fitness class. This did give us a bit of a scare as we wrongly assumed that a mass warm up was perhaps part of the Dunfermline experience.

 

Trying not to stray too far from the start line we were glad to see that the course had an excellent looking cafe very close to the finish. What was immediately apparent however was that the hills were likely to rival Tollcross for severity, regularity and incline.

 

We headed, as we do on first time visits to make sure Jack doesn’t get lost, to the first timers briefing muster point and were given a warm welcome and a brief summary of the route. 3 laps of approximately 1 mile each and the promise of ‘the big hill’.

 

 

As usual I was far too close to The Boy for comfort in the first 100 metres (either he’s a slow starter or I’m an over-enthusistic starter) but by around the 400m mark he’d opened a gap with another runner which grew and grew with each twist and turn thereon. I tucked into a pack of 3 as we descended the hill to the bottom of the park giving a chance to open the legs in the opening 1km. The route then loops around with a steep slope (aka ‘the big hill’) of approximately 150m before flattening out again and running around some of the park’s main attractions.

 

Twisting over the next 300 metres you loop round and under a bridge with a short ascent before starting the next lap (a nicely positioned sign warns you to turn to the right on lap 3 for the finish – duly noted as I did not want to be running any reps on ‘the big hill’).

 

The next two laps saw me settle into a regular pace and work hard on the flat and downhill allowing for a small recovery on the uphill and I was pleased to finish in 20minutes dead in 4th position. I’ve tended to find that a first visit never results in a personally fast time as I like to suss out the route. The Boy got faster and faster crossing the line 1st in a good time considering he was ‘going to take it easy’.

 

Nice to talk to local runners at the end and hear about @13thrunner who has started her own blog to record her first steps into the world of running. Well done on your first parkrun.

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 17.43.37.png
The only proof that we were in Dunfermline ‘running’

 

Thanks as always to marshals who did a great job of encouraging everyone with cowbells and hand clappers. Dunfermline seems to be an incredibly inclusive parkrun and the marshals gave every single runner and walker strong vocal encouragement. The post run scone in the cafe did not disappoint before we hit the car home. The upside of the long commute to this one was that it gave us plenty time to plan out many more daft challenges for 2017. Watch this space…

 

I think we’d both agree that Dunfermline was definitely worth a visit and actually much closer to Glasgow than either of us predicted (well not The Boy who described where he was to his wife on the phone as ‘I’m not sure where I am, oh hang on yes I am, I’m in outside Glasgow’).

The Runbetweeners Review 2016

At this time of year (well we’re a week late but most of you will be used to us being late by now) folks normally sit down, reflect on the previous 12 months and plan for the year ahead. It’s been a pretty phenomenal year running wise both on the track (and road, trail and hill) and off it with visits to old and new races near and far including some international excursions, the growth of our own running group and the launch of Rouken Glen Junior parkrun. A year of pb’s for both of us but what have been the highlights?

Between us we have raced a lot in the last year making it hard to narrow down the list to just 10. Therefore we went for 12 So here follows the countdown of our best 12 races from 2016.

Look out for next week’s blog post as we pick 12 races for 2017.

totp_logo_1998-svg

  1. Springburn parkrun (Kenny) – 14th of May 2016

This one makes the list as I managed to break 19 minutes for the 5k for the first time in a shiny new pb of 18-47 (gaining qualification to the elite sub 19 minute pack at the Harriers). Jack, in the middle of a heavy training schedule, decided to pace on this one allowing me to shadow him around the two loop course. Running in a small pack is something that I’ve learned this year can be extremely effective in pursuit of personal best times. An added bonus on this one was gate-crashing Springburn’s 2nd birthday celebrations meaning there was cake aplenty at the finish.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/happy-birthday-springburn-parkrun/

    11. Polaroid Clydebank 10k (Jack) – 19th May 2017.

The Polaroid series has been a staple of my running calendar for the last few years and in 2016 I approached it in a slightly different way. In the past I had entered all four events but this year I decided to enter just one and to target it for a personal best. I was over the moon to break 33minutes for the first time here and this made it a highlight of the year for me!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/polaroid-clydebank-10k-2016/

  1.  Brian Goodwin 10k (Kenny) – 17th of June 2017

Another pb for me on a brilliant evening in Pollok Park. After dipping under 40 minutes for the first time at Troon a few weeks before, I was delighted to take a good chunk off  my 10k time finishing in 39-30. An annual event, the race is organised by our club – Bellahouston Harriers. Knowing I was pacing the Men’s 10k a couple of days later, I decided to take this one easy but felt good from the start and again used similar runners to pull me along. Moral of the story: if you are feeling in the zone just go for it. A two lap course, the route takes in many of the flatter parts of the park and Haggs Road. To top it off entry includes a beer and a burger. What more could you ask for?

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/brian-goodwin-10k-2/

     9. parkrun du Bois de Bolougne. (Jack) – 26th March 2017.

What better way to spend my birthday that by striding around a Parisian park – they even let me cross the line first (there’s no winning in parkrun, apparently). This was my first international parkrun and was followed with cake and champagne under the Eiffel Tower. An awesome day and a birthday I will never forget!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/a-parisian-parkrun/

  1. #Glasgowparkrunsmashup (Both) – 15th of April 2016

2016’s answer to the Clyde Trail this was the one that was meant to send us trending worldwide. Unfortunately while we were up before dawn the rest of the running world was asleep, uninterested or both. The idea was simple – run each of Glasgow’s 5 parkrun routes in one go arriving at Pollok in time for the 9-30 start. As usual planning a sensible route was almost the undoing of this challenge as we cycled between each of the parks. Much harder than anticipated when the idea was hatched over a beer or two – 15.5 miles of running, more on the bike and very little enthusiasm, interest or support for a daft idea making this everything a good runbetweeners challenge should be Surely still a record? parkrun UK we are still waiting on official notice…

https://twitter.com/search?q=glasgowparkrunsmashup&src=typd

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/glasgow-parkrun-smash-up/

     7. Bushy parkrun (Jack) – 25th December 2016

This Christmas I decided to head back to where it all began and took part in Bushy parkrun. Lining up alongside 1200 other parkrunners for a free 5k run on Christmas morning was incredible and the atmosphere was even better than I had expected. I will definitely be back!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/bushy-parkrun-a-christmas-cracker/

  1. Dunoon Ride and Run (Kenny) – 2nd of April 2016

A momentous day as I topped the podium at this event in my hometown. Put together by the team at No Fuss Events the concept of this one is to bring the cycling enduro concept to running. Basically there are four timed stages and you can walk / jog or sprint between each. A 5k out along the prom is stage 1. Stage 2 is a gentle uphill trail section of around a mile. Stage 3 is two laps of the ash track at the local stadium. The final stage is a trail and road downhill smash up finishing on the newly restored pier. Total times from all four stages are added together and the lowest time wins. Simple. In this case the winner was shocked – especially since I’d taken a wrong turn on the first 5k section. My first and likely only victory – hopefully the event never happens again and I can lay claim to the title for the rest of my running days!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/dunoon-ride-run/

     5. Tom Scott Memorial 10Miler (Jack) – 10th April 2016.

This was a favourite of mine in 2015 also. There is a huge field at this event and there is always an abundance of fast runners. This means that there is usually a good pack to run in. At this year’s event I felt great and managed to run with a brilliant group of good mates who were all hitting good levels at fitness at the same time. The result was a fantastic pack run with a train of Harriers and a big PB for myself.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/tom-scott-memorial-10miler/

  1. The SouthSide Six (SS6) Kenny – 6th of November 2016

One of our absolute favourite races of the year and a Glasgow institution. The only reason the SS6 is not at the top of the list is that it’s been there before. This year Jack gave the run a pass leaving me to join the others toeing the line in this challenging 16-mile course. For those who’ve not done the race before it’s a 6 park tour of the south side painfully climbing to the highest peak in the two hilliest collecting stickers along the way. A brutal finish up the stairs and slopes of Queens Park, this one is always worth it for the excellent feed alone. This route sells out quickly so register for facebook updates to ensure you don’t miss out in 2017.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/southside-six-2016-ss6/

     3. MOKrun 1/2 Marathon (Jack) – 29th May 2016.

Our third visit to the Mull of Kintyre and, despite not coming home with the trophy, we still loved the experience of the weekend. A friendly, well organised event with a fantastic route and a brilliant post-run Ceilidh. Magic.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/running-a-mok-in-campbeltown/

      2. TCS Amsterdam Marathon 2016 (Jack) – 16th October 2016.

After four months of focused training, I finally made my way over to Amsterdam in an attempt at a new pb. A brilliant weekend and my first international Marathon – I’m sure it wont be the last!

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/amsterdam-marathon-2016/
And the number 1 race of 2016 in our humble opinion….

  1. Kyles 10 Miles (Both) – 10th of September 2016

This was our second visit to the Kyles of Bute and this race did not disappoint. A challenging and hilly route the 10 mile distance is a good marker to test out speed endurance. Guaranteed good weather (we’ve been twice and it’s been sunny both times), unbelievable scenery, beer on tap at the end and a BBQ followed by a ceilidh in the evening. A cracking race; low key, excellently marshalled, reasonably priced and growing in popularity year on year. A worthy winner of the title of 2016 Runbetweeners Race of the Year.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/kyles-10-miles-2/

 

Finally, a short footnote to those races that didn’t quite go to plan in 2016. No prizes for guessing which race ends up in the number 1 slot. Bang goes the idea that the runbetweeners will ever make our fortune Stateside…

 

  1. Toward for a Tenner (Kenny) – 6th of August 2016

Before I go on – Jack won this race, it was brilliantly and cheerfully marshaled, well organised and positively reviewed by local and visiting runners. I’ll be going back in 2017 and this race offers excellent value relative to other similar half marathons.  The addition of a 10k race makes this an inclusive running festival. Any negative feedback that follows is down to my own race naivety. On a positive note I suppose you learn more from the nightmare races than the ones that go well but this was everything that could go wrong in one race for me.

Starting far too fast and thinking I was in much better shape than I was, I decided to launch an attack on a near 5 minute pb on this one. There is no excuse really as this is my neck of the woods therefore I should have anticipated the wind factor which made running out in the first half a much more demanding effort than it would otherwise have been. Struggling badly the group I was in gradually put some serious distance between me and them as a stream of runners gradually passed me with words of genuine encouragement.

 

However I couldn’t help but slow to a near standstill by mile 7 reaching a point of exhaustion usually associated with a heavy session of sprint intervals or hill reps. Burned out by half way I managed to drag myself home thanks to the support and encouragement of my friends from Dunoon Hill Runners who were out in force (plus the fact is was an out and back course and all my gear was back at the start line). The first race I’ve run/walked in a long time and a massive positive split on the second half of the race. Meeting a friend who suffered an underwear malfunction and was running pantless for the final miles perked my spirits at mile 10 giving me the last ounce of strength to jog home the final 3 miles. The closest I’ve come to DNF’ing yet.

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/toward-for-a-tenner/

  1. Nationals – Short Course X Country (Kenny) – 5th of November 2016

Not a bad run – in fact I ran pretty well. Also not down do my hatred for the terrain as I’ve enjoyed the x-country much more this year. Perhaps I’m developing a love for the grass and mud as I become more experienced, fitter or maybe it was just down to the fact the weather has been much better than equivalent events in 2015.

This had all the ingredients to be a good one – I’d been training well, top athletes such as Laura Muir were competing and the event was reasonably close by meaning we could get there early enough to see some of the top junior and female races.

However the choice of venue was a strange one. The route was a two lap, pancake flat circuit around a playing field. Single file around the park perimeter the route lacked imagination or the challenge you would normally associate with such a prestigious race in the Scottish Athletics’ calendar. As a result it didn’t get a look in on the blog. Shame.

The worst race of 2016 award goes to…

1. Sommer Sports Florida Clermont 5k (Jack) – July 2016

You will have heard me rant about this one before I am sure but what kind of race doesn’t set up the finish line! Having got up early on my honeymoon to go and race this 5k in Florida, I was loving leading the pack for the whole race. I built myself up a nice lead and kept running for the finish – only to find that the finish line wasn’t there yet! I kept running down the road until I realised there was a problem and when I turned back the finish line had been constructed behind me! Witnesses at the end of the race spoke to the organisers and it was decided that I would still get the trophy but an angry competitor (relegated to second place) kick up a fuss and I did not get it. The organisers then ignored my email (I know I got petty!) and refused to respond to my questions on Twitter. I’m going to stop writing about it now because it’s getting me angry again haha -for more info read the review 😉

https://therunbetweeners.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/there-is-no-finish-line/

 

 

Bushy parkrun: A Christmas Cracker!

Having hurt my ankle attempting to run to parkrun in Leamington last week, I took the entire week leading up to Christmas off running. The sudden removal of running from my life was a bit of a shock to the system and I was keen to get back into the swing of things. This year I am spending Christmas at my parents’ house just outside of Croydon and so decided to ease back into things with a bit of parkrun tourism – and where better to pay a Christmas visit than the place where it all began: Bushy parkrun.


Lining up before the run (not a race! 😉) it was clear that this would be an experience. 1262 people (including Santas, Elves and the odd turkey) made their way through the misty park to congregate at the start line and there was a powerful dose of Christmas spirit in the air! 


The sheer volume of runners definitely gave the event an added buzz; the start line must have been forty people wide and the crowds wound their way back across the park. I was not planning a fast one today but didn’t really want to get stuck right at the back so I took up a position three or four rows from the front – squashed tightly between a man in a turkey hat and a woman dressed as a Christmas Pudding!


As the starter announced “Go!”, the charge was on and chaos ensued for a couple of hundred yards as people jostled for position but things eventually spread themselves out as we hit the first bit of path and made our way across the park. I was a little worried about my ankle today and was only intending a slow jog round but the atmosphere swept me up. As the watch beeped to tell me I had actually run a fairly quick first mile I made an effort to slow things down and settled into a group. Fortunately my ankle felt ok so after a slower second mile I decided to see if I could make up a few places and started working my way up the field – I couldn’t let the guy in a full elf suit beat me!


Coming into the final section of the race I jumped out of my skin as a huge stag appeared just to the side of the path on which I was running! I then spotted the other seven or eight deer which were grazing just behind it. I couldn’t believe these huge animals were quite happily minding their own business so close to a path which had over a thousand people (many covered in jingle bells!) running along it. Amazing.


As I crossed the finish line I was surprised to see that I had managed to work my way up to fourth position. I was also pretty impressed (if somewhat confused) with the huge, twin funnel! Nevertheless, the funnel management was impeccable and it was clearly a well oiled machine! Dad also had a good run, crossing the line in a new course PB, and we made our way home for a full fry up before crashing on the sofa with a beer and Christmas TV. 


A huge thanks to all at Bushy parkrun for an awesome event, dad for the lift and mum for the breakfast  – is there a better way to start Christmas than parkrun?  

Great Run Local Glasgow Quays

Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 22.02.10.png
Richard Cooper (centre) with Members of Moira’s Family

 

Finally made it down to the Great Run Local event this evening after having my wrist band for about 3 years. A couple of factors swayed me this week – dinner at the mother-in-laws was cancelled and Richard Cooper was on course to meet his target of 1000km of race miles for the year. A great achievement that I’ve been following throughout the year as out paths have crossed at various runs.

 

If you don’t know the Great Run Local is a series of weekly events in a number of UK towns and cities. Glasgow’s event is held on a Wednesday night making it an excellent complimentary run to the more widely heard of parkrun series. Simply register online and take your wrist band down to the Broomielaw at 6-30pm. Much smaller than the parkrun events it nevertheless appears to embody much of the ethos that makes parkrun so popular – open to all, volunteer led and incredibly welcoming to me as a first timer.

 

Jogging over from Shawlands I mulled over race strategy and settled on a sub 20 target to see if I was in race shape. I felt strong at the recent cross country and wanted to see if I was running at a similar level to the start of the year when I clocked sub 20 on a reasonably consistent basis. I’ve not done many 5 or 10ks recently so it could all have gone terribly wrong.

 

Setting off I tucked in behind 3 runners as we crossed the river and rounded a few sharp turns. Should have been obvious but it was around this time it clicked that the route is pancake flat. It was reasonably quiet in terms of pedestrians and cyclists tonight and that combined with near perfect running weather meant the first mile (including 2 crossings of the Squiggly Bridge) passed in a decent 6-15. Feeling strong as I rounded the furthest point of the course I used the next few turns to push hard and keep up with the lead runner in the pack. Forgetting about my watch I stayed here until the final turn pushing for home with about 1km to go.

 

Having missed my regular training a lot recently due to a deadly combination of man flu and parents nights aiming for a sub 20 was perhaps a tad ambitious but the support of the pack definitely helped pulling me around making the ordeal seem a whole lot less of an effort. I was even able to pick up the pace in the last 400 metres. Crossing the finish line I was pleasantly surprised to have dipped under 19 minutes (only my second time). Even more so as I felt comfortable throughout. 19-02 on the official results but my watch had me at 18-58. With a few seconds grace waiting for your band to be scanned at the end of the race I’m definitely counting this one as a sub 19.

 

This was a good event;  a fast course, a lot of familiar faces and the chance to run by many of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks. I’ll definitely be back and I’d encourage others to give it a go.

 

Final shout out to Richard. His achievement and support for an amazing cause over such a long time is a real test of commitment, dedication and luck on the injury front. He’s averaged two races a week for a year including a few ultras along the way. If you could spare some change I’m sure he would appreciate the support via the links below.

 

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/richardacooper

http://www.facebook.com/2016challenge366

 

Thanks as always to the marshals. Stats below for the number crunchers 🙂

 

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/802401923

West Districts: X-Country

After a gentle warm up tail running at junior parkrun this morning it was down to Ayr for the West Districts. Cross Country and me are not great friends but the Renfrewshire and West District events provide a decent platform for the mere mortals like myself without the fear I associate with the National events. Despite being lapped by many of the superstars at this event this year I was determined to put on a better showing today.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-18-45-36
Brilliant Setting on a Crisp Winter’s Afternoon

 

Arriving just in time to see the ladies passing on lap 2 of 3 there was just enough time to cheer them through, get stripped and screw in the cross country studs. Glad I remembered after running the event in Renfrew in my track spikes. A gentle warm up to see the hills which I had missed on the way in proved this was going to be a trickier course but the ground seemed good to firm – as ideal as it gets at cross country. Heading over to the start line though it became clear that the curse of the men’s race was to strike the course too – a route totally churned up by a packed morning and early afternoon of racing. This made for heavy work around the home straight and start area on each of the four laps.

 

Settling in behind an obviously more experienced cross country runner I hugged the edge of the route desperately seeking some firmer ground and remembering the best line for subsequent laps. The Boy flew out of the traps and seemed to be winning his personal battle as I saw him tear off into the distance. While the first half of the lap was boggy in parts the second half was undulating. The hills won today for me with the second half of each lap being more favourable than the first.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-19-09-29
The Boy in Full Flow

 

 

Around the half way mark The Boy approached on the other side of the tape telling me he had put around 600metres between us in just under two laps. This made me fearful that a potential ‘lapping’ by some of the big guns might be on the cards again. This drove me on during lap three alongside some incredible cheering (a lot of random shout outs about hash tagging from the Bella Babes) which lifted the spirits at the traditionally tricky mid race stage.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-18-47-18
Leaning Back and a Concerning Complexion

 

Gunning it down the home straight for the third time I was pleased to be picking off one or two runners by adopting a wide and firm race line. Feeling strong (I definitely went off way too easy again) I was even more pleased to cross the start line without being lapped this year. So much so I skipped a little jig of joy and almost fell flat on my face in the mud. Refocused and with only a lap to go I managed to take another couple of places. An enjoyable run out but one I should perhaps have pushed harder – something I definitely need to try and bring over from my road running and a pretty common theme from the cross country events I have done to date.

 

 

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-18-45-50
New Shoes Purchase This Morning 😦

Great course, great weather, brilliant podium place for the junior team and everyone’s favourite sweets and cakes in the tent afterwards 🙂 As always thanks to all the officials and marshals out on the course and involved in putting on a great event.