parkrun 14.10.17

I’m a bit of a sucker for coincidences and a bit OCD too, and it was a series of loosely related coincidences that took me to Antrim parkrun today.

First of all, completing it would bring me up to exactly my 1000th mile since I started running. It would also have been my 10th parkrun and my connection with Antrim stretches back to when I moved to live there a long, long time ago when I was 10-years-old (ok, ok, I know I’m pushing it a bit now but things also have to come in sets of three! Right?)

I’ve considered doing a spot of parkrun tourism in Antrim for a little while now but when I noticed that all the above ducks were in a row it was a total no-brainer that I went today.

I don’t drive so despite Antrim being ten miles from home I could still get there quicker on the bus than I could by walking to my local parkrun, so off I popped on the 8:30am 218 Goldliner to Antrim, arriving at 8:55am and then another 20 minutes walk/run to the start, still quicker than the 40-45 minutes it’d take me to go local.

Getting to the start, it was heartening to see quite a few already there and more arriving by the second … in total 234 turned up which, I think, is the biggest parkrun I’ve been in.

I took a few pics enroute and a few more around the start area and after joining in with the newcomers briefing (a nice touch) I then made my way to the start, albeit a fair bit back. I didn’t know exactly where the line was so I just took an educated guess on when to start my Garmin … in the end I was only a fraction out, so that was good.

With such a large turnout and on a narrow path at the beginning things got a little bunched up but that was no bad thing because it stopped me from darting off too quickly. Things soon spread out, though, and I was able to get into my stride. I also ran past Parveen from my Monday night club training so it was nice to say a quick hello before letting her concentrate on her own run.

I’d only run along here once before – at the Centra Run Together event last year – so it wasn’t totally unfamiliar at the beginning but I was into uncharted territory once we turned left over the bridge and into the castle gardens for the first of two laps.

I wasn’t terribly worried about my time today, this was more about the experience, so I decided to take more pictures on the first lap before focusing more on my run on the second loop.

I lived in Antrim for seven years, leaving in 1987, so a lot of old memories came flooding back plus I don’t remember the castle gardens being as immaculate as they were today – the result being that I was stopping every minute or so to take a quick snap. It was all very pleasant … indeed the entire experience from start to finish was highly enjoyable, it was a very picturesque course.

After getting to the finish I waited for Parveen to complete her run and have a quick chat before making my way back to the bus station.

As I headed back one of the core team stopped me for a chat, I mentioned my history with Antrim and he filled in a little more detail on what has changed over the years. That was very kind of him and indicative of the friendly, relaxed nature of the entire event.

It was a great way to complete 1000 miles and to pop my tourism cherry. I’ll be back soon.

Relive my run


Intervals again … and hills!

Not content with doing my first intervals session on Wednesday night I decided to go out tonight (Friday) and do it all over again.

But just normal intervals wouldn’t do me, ohhhhh no.

Nope, tonight, I decided to mix them with some hill training. Well, sort of. I live on the Antrim Road which is a long, steady incline without being particularly steep but there are a couple of short, sharp climbs just off it that can be very easily incorporated into a run , so I included these tonight into a sort of loop at the top end of the road.

Following Wednesday night’s schedule, I programmed my Garmin with nine reps of two minutes running and 90 seconds walking/recovery and walked, as usual, to the top of the road.

The first two minutes took me almost exactly to the bottom – perfect. I then walked back up during the recovery portion before having to run up to the top when the next segment kicked in.

Then, at the top, there’s a sharp drop down to the left, so I ran down that … it worked out well because, in total, I went down five times and up four so I got a good workout lasting exactly half-an-hour – a chance for speed but also an opportunity to regularly test myself going back up.

It was tough, but also not impossible and I felt quite strong, even during the eighth or ninth rep. Hopefully a couple of weeks of this will start to have a positive impact on my running.

Relive my run


Tonight was something of a departure me, my first outing at the club interval training on a Wednesday evening.

I’d often thought of going but a lack of confidence and a surety in my mind that I’d stand out like a sore thumb amongst the (much) speedier runners always put me off.

But, recently, a few from my Monday night sessions have expressed an interest in going so tonight, tenatively, seemed to be the night that we’d all go to see what it was all about and, importantly, to give each other moral support.

I walked up, the usual 40-45 minute dander, but when I got to Ecos I didn’t know where everyone started from so it took a few minutes to find them and when I did I hardly had time to catch my breath before we were off, running to the carpark to do the warm-up.

Yep, running to warm-up before we started the actual running! Note to self, leave home much earlier next time!

It was such a relief to see a fair few from the 30/45 minute groups on Monday, I immediately relaxed knowing that I’d be within similarly paced company.

So, after the warm-up runs and exercises it was time to start the sessions properly. Tonight’s was 9 x 2 minutes running followed by 90 seconds recovery which, for me, was walking around in circles just to keep active.

The idea was that faster runners would go much further on the way out but would catch us slower ones on the return to the starting point so that we all then left from the same place again … and it worked!

For me it was a case of not sprinting flat out – we had to do this nine times! – but to keep going at a steadier pace than normal for the full two minutes, no walking allowed. I know running for two minutes isn’t anything out of the ordinary but I usually pace myself – tonight was going much harder than I’m used. I’m pleased to say I managed this, my Garmin constantly buzzing to tell me I was going faster than normal. I’ll take that.

It was tough, I’ll not deny that, but it was also exhilarating and lots of fun … everyone seemed agreed on this, and plans were made to do it all again next week. I can’t wait!

Relive my run