Chippenham parkrun 17.02.18

Today I had my first taste of ‘overseas’ parkrun tourism when I lined up at the start of Chippenham parkrun in Wiltshire.

I am over visiting Dawn – it’s her birthday this weekend – so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity of competing in a different event, taking care to remember the 9am start, half-an-hour earlier than home.

The run starts and finishes in Monkton Park, it’s an area I know a little having walked through the park on previous visits. Before coming over I watched videos of previous runs so I kind of knew what to expect – half tarmac, half trail – and also from chatting to Dawn who has done the run in the past but when we got there we noticed part of the path had been closed so we guessed the route would be different.

As it turned out it was different, although not massively so. It still remained essentially the same ie: two loops of the park and two loops of the trail.

I joined in with the visitors briefing, given by a lovely Scottish lady. She asked where everyone was from … I had secretly hoped to be the furthest visitor but it turns out some chap had come all the way from Queensland!

She then explained the detour to us, mentioning mud and rabbit holes. Interesting.

As I said, the first two loops were on tarmac. Setting off I felt quite good. There’s a hill just past the first bend, which I zipped up comfortably enough, followed by a long straight section before a downhill. We did this twice, before having to go up the hill a third time to turn off for the trail section.

I was going very well up to this point and, indeed, halfway through, was nine seconds faster than my pb time last week, despite stopping to tie my shoelace at one stage.

But I knew the trail would slow me down, and so it proved. The first loop, in particular, was a bit of a slog because I was trying to find my feet and pick out the best way through. On the second time round I was 25 seconds faster than that initial loop which was good.

The last kilometre was a little bit mud, a little bit stoney path but mostly tarmac and it turned out to be my second fastest km split of the run which was very encouraging considering my legs had to work harder dealing with the mud.

All told, I was happy with my time and performance. Yes, no pb this week but a quite challenging course. I felt I acquited myself well, and that’s all I can really ask for.

I enjoyed myself this morning. Thanks to core team at Chippenham for a friendly event and to the marshals dotted around the course for their encouragement as I passed them. I’m looking forward to coming back in May (I hope) to give it another go.

Relive my run

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Rain, shine and fairy trails

Last week Iverene, from my club, asked if I would help her with her half marathon training, but due to the snow that has plagued Ballymena recently we were unable to go out.

We ran together on Saturday, first at parkrun and then five miles straight after, and agreed after that to see what it’d be like today and attempt another midweek lunchtime run.

Again, the weather forecast was against us but it was only wind and rain this time so we decided to go for it. I’ll admit at this point I wasn’t really up for it. I had done an exercise class at 6:30am and was still tired from that but I didn’t want to let Iverene down, plus I knew the run would be good for me.

Typically, it was so cold, windy and wet at the start … but by the end we were basking in bright sunlight. Four seasons in one day!

We had decided beforehand to do a nine mile route but to do it slowly … really slowly. Time on feet, and miles in our legs was our objective today so we aimed for 13-minute miles.

It might sound easy to slow it right down and, believe me, we tried but we failed miserably. Indeed our average pace throughout was 12:28 and it was a struggle to even do that.

But I take huge encouragement from that. We were going faster than we planned, and we were able to chat most of the way so, effectively, we were running at conversational pace which suggests there was a lot more in our legs if we needed it.

The route took us from the Ballee Park ‘n’ Ride, down the Antrim Road – so a nice easy start – then into the town via the leisure centre before following a bit of the club 30-minute run and then down Parkway, along the Galgorm Road right out to the villages of Galgorm and Gracehill.

After that we turned back on ourselves a little before going into the golf club, and running through the grounds. A little way in I spotted a little white washed house, and wooden wings etc. … apparently there’s a fairy trail along here! I know I sometimes run like a big fairy but I wasn’t tempted to follow it!!!

There’s a steep rise going out of the golf club which was the only time really during the entire run that I thought was really tough.

Exiting the club, there was a very pleasant drop for a while before following the Tullygarley Road which is a steady, deceptive rise. It was along here we bumped into Serena, who sometimes leads the 30s or 45s at club, so she ran the final couple of miles with us.

She had just started her run so was obviously a lot fresher than we were but having her run alongside us motivated me to keep going because I was aware of the challenges still ahead.

We turned to go along the Toome Road. Halfway along there’s a really, really steep climb. I’ve never completed it before without walking but, today, I conquered it! I was so pleased with myself … I just picked different points up the hill and challenged myself to get to each one.

There’s a downhill on the other side which was good for recovery before the road joins with the Antrim Road, and the turn towards the finish.

Unfortunately the finish is at the very, very top of the road and the Antrim Road is a long slog but, as with the Toome Road hill, I wasn’t going to let it beat me – and it didn’t. I had to dig very, very deep but I was determined to get up it.

As sod’s law would have it we were still a little bit short of nine miles, so we ran a little bit along the dual carriageway before turning back to the start/finish while Serena carried on with her own run.

It was a relief to get finished but the endorphins were flowing and I felt absolutely delighted to have completed it almost non-stop, especially since I wasn’t feeling it at the start and after doing an early morning class!

Next week it’ll be ten miles. Maybe. But I need a rest first, I’m knackered now!!!!

Relive my run

Every mile counts

Just a short run tonight, or perhaps two even shorter ones to be exact.

Over the past few weeks, as part of the Saints ‘n’ Slimmers programme, I’ve been practising for a dance at the finale next Friday night … and now that it’s beginning to loom large on the horizon extra practice has been called for.

Unfortunately, tonight, it clashed with my regular Monday night run with the club so there was only one thing for it – run to the dance practice and run back home again. It’s hard to keep a good man down after all!

So that’s what I did. I ran 2.3km to practice, strutted my stuff for a couple of hours, and ran back home again. Quite simple really.

The run itself – or both of them – was quite comfortable but at an increased pace which was more or less on a par with my parkrun on Saturday, if it hadn’t been for the stops to cross the road and other sensible stuff like that.

Still, almost 5k on a bitterly cold night when I might otherwise have done nothing isn’t to be sniffed at. Every mile counts.

Relive my run