This week’s Monday Morning Motivation is another episode of Jess’s parkrun Heroes. The star of the episode is John Butcher.
John is a veteran runner setting records into his late eighties. Together with friends Colin and Snowy this ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ running crew tour in search of new parkrun records. But running is also about dealing with the loss of John’s wife.
Jessica's parkrun Heroes - John Butcher - YouTube
I love John’s enthusiasm for parkrun and completely agree that it’s important to mix with people with a youthful outlook on life.
Continuing with our parkrun tourism this year, Stuart and I decided to go to Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun. This was my NENDY (nearest event not done yet). If you’re not sure where the nearest event is that you haven’t already run, visit the parkrun Tourist Tool.
Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun - YouTube
A student-made video showing Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun
What’s the course like?
I had read that some of the course is on a compacted gravel path. However, the weather conditions meant that it was dry, dusty loose gravel, which is not an easy surface to push a buggy on. It was a hot and sunny day and there was no breeze, which made the run harder.
The course is next to the motorway, but as it’s below the level of the road, you hardly notice it. The initial section is on a tarmac cycle path. It’s beautifully smooth, but a bit narrow. It’s an out and back that includes a short bridge and an underpass, before heading onto the gravel path.
The gravel section is an out and back around the side of the lake. M enjoyed trying to spot ducks. She was out of luck, but there were a lot of Canada geese.
Buggy running competition
I think I was the 4th buggy finisher. I was incredibly impressed by the first buggy finisher as it was a man pushing a double buggy – it looked like he finished in a quick time. There was a fast man with a buggy who I passed on an out and back section. Judging by his pace, I think he must have started late. I think I may have ‘won’ my niche today by being the first female buggy runner!
I was quite pleased with my official time for Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun. It was just under 33 minutes, which isn’t terribly fast but is one of the best times that I’ve run with a buggy this year.
After the run, I needed to lie in the shade for a few minutes to cool down. The parkrun is located next to an office complex, so not only is there plenty of free parking, but there’s also a choice of post-run refreshment venues. Weirdly the Co-op is only open Monday-Friday, but we could go to Costa or Starbucks. It was also possible to visit a hairdresser. It was just a shame that there’s no playground nearby.
This year as part of the parkrun Conference, delegates were driven to Kingsbury Water parkrun. I was really excited to see what it would be like as it’s not an event that I’ve tried before.
When we arrived at Kingsbury Water, there was a stand with CONTRA clothing set up. We were told that it wasn’t for sale, instead, it was there so that we could try it out. Initially, I thought it was just an exercise in finding the right size. However, I was told that it was an opportunity for us to try on different items of clothing, find the right size and then run complete the parkrun in that clothing.
CONTRA sizing is different from other brands in that it is alphabetical and goes from B-K (10 sizes roughly going from 6-26). I tried on several t-shirts and am very self-conscious of how fat I’ve got this year, so I decided to run in a size F raspberry t-shirt.
The t-shirt had a flattering cut with a nice neckline and darts to improve the fit. I wasn’t sure about the colour, at first, but it definitely grew on me. I really liked the colour of the long-sleeved green tops.
The t-shirt costs £25, which some people might find expensive. However, I thought it was beautifully cut and I’m willing to pay more for a product that is ethically produced. These particular tops are made in Portuguese factories where staff are paid a fair wage. The bonus is that any profit is ploughed into parkrun*.
How did I do?
I’d love to be able to describe the route at Kingsbury Water, but I’m so desperate to get back to running fitness for Castle to Coast triathlon that I wasn’t paying attention to the surroundings.
The run started before I was expecting it to. Despite that, the start wasn’t too congested and I was able to get into a rhythm.
Much of the course was tree-lined which meant that my Garmin data was fluctuating. I’d think I was doing OK, look down at my watch and see a much slower pace than I was expecting, which was disheartening.
Towards the end, I recognised where I was and realised that I was going to go under 30 minutes again, so I pushed hard.
I was so happy that I smashed my goal again. (My Garmin time was even quicker than the official time).
That’s my happy face… shame it matches my t-shirt! If you peer closely, you can see the lake in the background.
Posing with my conference roomie, Julie
Mingling with running heroes
After the run, I changed back into my apricot t-shirt and had the opportunity to mingle with other parkrunners.
Julie and I were delighted to be able to chat with Dave Moorcroft and his wife. He’s a former world record holder for 5000m, running it in 13:00.41. He was the last non-African to hold this record. He also competed in 3 Olympic Games and won two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games.
It was also lovely to see a young lad who had run his first parkrun. He was going to do a presentation at school about it, so all of the senior parkrun figures offered to have their photos taken with him. What an amazing first parkrun experience!
Other highlights of the parkrun conference
It was fantastic to be able to spend a whole weekend with other people who are passionate about parkrun and the impact it can make on people’s lives. I’ve come away feeling completely inspired and want to set up a thousand new events!
I was absolutely thrilled to meet Jo Pavey, one of my all-time running heroes. She was really friendly and chatted with every single person who wanted to have a photo taken with her. If you don’t know who Jo Pavey is, she’s a 5-time Olympian, who is hoping to qualify for her sixth Olympics in the marathon. She won a gold medal at the 2014 European Championships just 10 months after giving birth (and at nearly 41 years old!)
All of the ambassadors at the conference gave the Ugandan Crew a standing ovation when they danced their way into our hearts.
If you don’t know who the Ugandan Crew are, you need to watch the following episode of Jessica’s parkrun Heroes:
Jessica's parkrun heroes - Samuel & the Ugandan Crew | Vitality UK - YouTube
The inspiration behind CONTRA
Paul Sinton-Hewitt explained some of his motivation behind creating the running brand CONTRA. He wanted to create an ethical brand of running clothing in sizes to fit anyone who wants to exercise.
A photo of Dawn Nisbet completing her first parkrun went viral last year. You can see the image below. Dawn explained that she faced a number of barriers to getting into running and that finding appropriate clothing was one of them. She was invited to work with Tim Soar (who also has his own running brand: Soar) to help ensure that the clothes fit large runners perfectly and aren’t just scaled-up size 8s.
Tim Soar, Dawn Nisbet and Paul Sinton-Hewitt with Vassos Alexander.
*It’s worth remembering that although it’s free for everyone to participate in parkrun, it’s definitely not free to run. There is a small team of staff who need to be paid, but the biggest overhead is maintaining the infrastructure of parkrun and enabling new events to be set up. As someone who has enjoyed taking part in nearly 300 runs (as well as volunteering at many more), I feel that I should make a contribution to parkrun.
This week’s Monday Morning Motivation is a moving episode of Jessica’s parkrun Heroes. The central protagonist is Jo Eccles. Jo is someone who has gained confidence and friendship through parkrun.
Jo Eccles worked as a doctor’s receptionist at the Sloan practice in Sheffield. When Dr Ollie Hart and his colleagues set up the first GP inspired parkrun in the country she was persuaded to take a leading role. This is the story of how parkrun changed her life.
At the start of the year, I was struggling to get back on form with my running, so I decided to do more parkrun tourism. This relieved the pressure that I put on myself when I run at Southampton every week. To keep me on track, I wrote a planner for the first six months of the year, scheduling a range of different parkruns. I haven’t quite managed to do everything that I wanted to, but I have visited 7 ‘new’ parkruns. I’ve also got three more letters towards my parkrun alphabet: U, K and G. However, my reasons for choosing Southsea parkrun this weekend were different.
This weekend, Race for Life and Pretty Muddy were taking place on Southampton Common, so Southampton parkrun was cancelled. This meant that I needed to do some parkrun tourism. I discounted the parkruns in the immediate vicinity of Southampton as I knew they would be busy. Stu and I planned to run with our friends with Rachel and Phil and their two children. This meant that we needed a smooth, buggy-friendly path and a playground near to the finish. A nice cafe would be a bonus. A quick search of events that I hadn’t run yet suggested that Southsea would be ideal.
Other runs this week
Anyway, before I tell you about Southsea parkrun, I wanted to share some details of my runs this week. On Monday, I made it to a hill training session with LRR. I ran to the session, took part and then ran home.
Straight after work on Wednesday, I went out for a run, so that I had no opportunity to make excuses and stay at home. It was an RR10, so I didn’t expect to see anyone from LRR.
I made it as far as the crossroads on the Common when I saw fellow triathlete Sandra out for a walk with her daughter and her puppy. I stopped to chat and walk with them for a bit, which was a welcome break as my breathing wasn’t great.
As I was chatting with Sandra, my friend Teri ran up. She was out running with her dog and said she would run with me for a bit. Teri is much fitter and faster than me, so it was quite a challenge to keep moving at a pace that was acceptable to her.
I’ll get by with a little help from my friends!
Teri was just going to run a bit when we first met, but she agreed to keep running with me until we had done 5km. Before the end of our run, we bumped into Kata, so we ran together for a little bit.
I was so grateful to Teri for running with me as I really hadn’t been feeling like running. It was a lot hotter than I expected and the t-shirt I was wearing is not breathable, so I was too hot.
As I was expecting to do a long solo run, I decided to wear my Aftershokz Air bone-conducting headphones. I was wearing a waistbelt with my phone in it, so that I could listen to With Me Now podcast. The sound quality was great and I was really enjoying it. I stopped listening after meeting Sandra and Teri. I hadn’t charged the headphones up properly and within 2 minutes of leaving Teri, they ran out of power, which was frustrating.
By the time I made it home, I was soaking wet but feeling proud of myself for having run further than 10km. I feel so frustrated that I have become so unfit, but am determined to be able to run a half marathon in 7 weeks time.
Feeling proud but soaking wet after a run in the rain.
Getting to the start of Southsea parkrun
We left Southampton just after 8am and were pleasantly surprised by how quiet the roads were. There is a 50mph speed restriction on a long section of the motorway between Southampton and Portsmouth, but traffic was flowing smoothly. We arrived in Southsea at 8:40am and located a parking space right by the playground.
View towards Southparade Pier in Southsea.
We then had to walk to the start of Southsea parkrun, which is at Speakers’ Corner on Southsea Esplanade. It was an easy stroll for an adult from the car park… but for a pebble-obsessed toddler, it was a long walk. M wanted to choose pebbles from on the beach, but we didn’t have that much time. In the end, we had to encourage her to get in the buggy by the pier or we would have missed the start!
View towards Portsmouth Pyramids Centre.
The start of the run was congested. The record at Southsea parkrun is 554; there were 529 runners on Saturday. Recently, there have been under 400 runners on a number of occasions. I noticed that there were quite a few runners from St James’ Runners in Southampton. Obviously, a lot of others had the same idea as me!
What was the run like?
The Esplanade is wide, so there should have been plenty of room. Rachel and I had started at the back with our buggies, so we had to dodge a lot of people.
The weather was sunny and warm, which was a nice change… but it was a bit warm for me to be running.
Southsea parkrun is a simple out and back. I had assumed that it would all be on the paved promenade, but there is one section that goes out around a cafe, so runners have to go on the shingle. Rachel and I were directed to remain on the pavement with our buggies, but Phil wasn’t so lucky. He was sent onto the shingle with his Chariot. It must have been a nightmare to push.
On the way back, there were a lot of people gathering for Pride, so the pavement was even more congested. I got really held up by the cafe as the people who were gathering there didn’t seem to be able to hear me shout ‘Excuse me, please!’
So how did I do at Southsea parkrun?
This parkrun was a lot tougher than I expected. The temperature and humidity were not good for running. I also started in the wrong position, so had to weave around a lot of people. Although it is perfectly flat, this did mean that there were no downhill sections where I could take a breather.
I didn’t start my watch exactly at the start of the run but did not expect it to be so different from my official time. I had 32:12 on my watch, which was nearly a minute quicker than the time I was given.
On a positive, I had done the 4th highest number of runs at the event. I was the female runner who had completed the most runs – the next highest was 231. There were only 11 runners who had run over 250 parkruns.
I didn’t realise that you could click on your age group and see the top performances for all people in that category at that parkrun (I’m at 545/794). In my age group, I was 12/24. although it was a slow run, it wasn’t terrible.
What next for my parkrun tourism?
In the second half of the year, I’m hoping that I might visit 16 ‘new’ parkruns. I’m still chasing my parkrun alphabet, so I’ve identified opportunities to do parkruns beginning with Y, V, Q and J. Fingers crossed that a rumoured parkrun beginning with I starts in the local area! I’m also hoping to visit 3 international parkruns before Christmas.
Another parkrun challenge that I’m aiming to complete is Cornw-all (all the parkruns in Cornwall). I don’t think I’ll manage to crack that this year as Mount Edgcumbe isn’t easy for me to get to. I’ve also heard rumours that there will be another parkrun starting much nearer to my mum’s house.
My next parkrun will be at Southampton, but the following one is still a mystery to me as I’ll be at the parkrun ambassadors’ conference. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll be Bedworth or Brueton as I’ve done Leamington and Coventry.
It was another run at Southampton parkrun for me again today. It was nice to be back at parkrun after missing it last week. However, the weather was a bit muggy for running.
Stu and I have agreed that we’ll take it in turns to run down to Southampton parkrun. This will allow us to get a longer run in. It was his turn this week. I was impressed that he managed to run down to start on time and also did a bit of a run afterwards to complete 10 miles.
Watch out for buggy runners – don’t ‘nip across’ them!
I started somewhere middle of the pack with M, so it was a slow start. I was a little frustrated by the actions of someone of my fellow parkrunners. A boy who was about 12 years old managed to get on one side of me; his mother was on my other side. She kept urging him to ‘just nip across’ in front of me. If you see someone running with a buggy, pease don’t be tempted to do that. It’s really hard to brake in time, so you’re risking injuring yourself and the little passenger.
Halfway around, I caught up with my friend Caro, so we ran the rest of the run together. Well, until the final gravel path, where Caro did a glorious sprint finish.
How did I do?
Overall, my time wasn’t too bad: 34:14. My goal is to get my solo run time down to under 30 minutes and then I’ll see whether I can get back to that with a buggy.
I’m feeling positive and inspired now that I’ve entered Castle to Coast. My Strava stats for May show that I’m really getting back on track. This was really helped by taking part in RunFestRun.
Posing for a quick pic by the waterfall.
I’ve written a whole post about RunFestRun, but the summary is this:
2x5km with M in her buggy
25km is significantly more than I’ve run in a 48 hour period for a long time!
I didn’t manage to get to swimming before work on Monday because my mum had stayed over. I didn’t mind as I was tired and needed to catch up on my sleep.
At lunchtime on Monday, I went swimming with Sarah. I found it really hard to push myself to do more than 100m at a time. I think it was because I was quite tired after the festival. Eventually, I managed to do 1000m.
I went to a spinning class on Tuesday. I’d forgotten how much I love spinning. Having the right teacher and the right tracks makes a huge difference.
I’m also still cycling to work almost every day. It’s tough with 35kg of trailer, toddler and bags to tow, especially when my legs are tired. It’s probably some of my toughest training. The running commentary that I get isn’t always motivational, but it’s usually quite funny. “Put your bottom on the seat, Mummy! Go faster, Mummy! Faster, faster, faster!” My favourite was when I was signalling to turn right and my own words came back to haunt me. “Hold on with two hands, Mummy! Two hands!”
On Sunday, I’ve arranged to join Teri and a group of others to cycle 100km. It’ll be my longest ride for a very long time, so I hope I don’t hold anyone up. However, I’m feeling positive that I can do the distance.
On Monday, Lordshill Road Runners had a ‘recalibration time trial’ to ensure that runners are in the right groups. It was a muggy evening and my legs were tired, so I did no better than expected. The positive is that I now have a benchmark to work from.
Do you like time trials? I always find them hard (whether cycling or running) as I’m usually one of the first starters and I know that I do better when I have someone to chase down. (By the time someone passes me, I’ve lost motivation).
I didn’t train on Wednesday evening because there was an RR10 cross country race. I used to love them, but I think I would find them demotivating whilst I’m so slow. Also attending one would take me out for too much of the evening and I had a lot of blogging to catch up with!
I planned to do yoga on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The teacher on Wednesday was different from the one last week and she had a very different style. That’s what I like about yoga – each teacher brings something of their own to it, but the poses stay the same. I left feeling positive and relaxed. My hips are definitely looser… however, I still need to book a massage as my muscles are generally very tight.
I was hoping to do yoga again on Thursday, but unfortunately, a meeting overran and I wasn’t able to get there in time, so I spent some time blogging instead. Lucky you!
I was so excited when I learnt about Fullsteam‘s latest event: Castle to Coast. It’s an event that takes entrants from Windsor to Brighton. What makes this event unique is that it’s the UK’s only sportive triathlon. I’ve been struggling with comparing my current race times with those I was able to achieve in the past. This event is perfect to lure me back to multisports. The focus is on completion and inclusion rather than racing to get the fastest time (although you can guarantee that I’ll be pushing myself!)
The event will take place on Saturday 10th August, which gives me 3 months to train. As it’s a Saturday event, I’ll have a day after the event to recover before going back to work!
Fullsteam - Castle to Coast Sportive Triathlon 2019 - YouTube
As this event is point-to-point, entrants can decide whether they want to finish in Brighton or whether they want to get a coach back to Windsor. There’s also the option to take part in the event as a relay, which makes this event even more inclusive.
Training for Castle to Coast
This event is just over half iron distance, with a 1.2-mile swim; 67-mile bike ride and 13.2-mile run, so I’m going to treat my training in the same way as I would for a half ironman.
Fullsteam have organised some free training sessions for people who have entered Castle to Coast, so I’m trying to rearrange my schedule to fit them in. I’m particularly interested in the guided group run of the first 5 miles of the route that will take place on Saturday 13th July. I really like to know where I will be running. I’m certain that it’s how I was able to conquer my first half marathon and also what helped me to achieve a PB at Southampton Marathon.
I’m currently swimming every week, so that is helping me to regain my swimming fitness. I usually swim 1000m, so I just need to build the distance back up. I’m confident that I can do it, it’s just that I don’t normally have enough time.
I think the bigger challenge is going to be to lose enough weight to get back into my wetsuit. I’ve not worn it for a long time and don’t want to depress myself by trying it on yet!
I’m hoping to go cycling every week with Teri and Pete, which should help me to improve my cycling. I’m also doing one or two spinning classes a week.
I’ve a deferred place from RideLondon, so I need to be ready to cycle 100 miles the weekend before Castle to Coast. If all goes to plan, I’ll be cycling 100km with Teri on Sunday.
I’ve rejoined Lordshill Road Runners and am trying to run 3 times a week. So far, I’m not following a specific running training plan. My running for the last year has mostly been 5km a week at parkrun, so I’ve really ramped up the volume. I’m going to give it a couple of week for my legs to get used to what I’m doing before I start to increase the distance.
So, I’ve told you all about this fantastic event – who’s going to join me?
I’ve been feeling down for months because I’ve not been exercising enough and I’ve been putting on weight. Eventually, something had to change. My schedule can’t go back to the way it used to be where I could train whenever I liked around my work hours.
Stuart and I had a discussion and agreed that we would each take two nights a week where we could train. I’ve got Mondays and Wednesdays and Stu has Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these nights, the other parent takes responsibility for putting M to bed. So far, it’s working out OK.
Cycling with Teri
Part of my ‘something had to change’ plan is to exercise more on Fridays. For the last two weeks, I’ve been out cycling with Teri. We’ve both got a lot on at the moment, so we went for a short route that we’re both familiar with. It starts in Shirley, heads out of Southampton via Eling Tide Mill and then into the New Forest. We head in the direction of Beaulieu but then turn towards the Drift Inn before going back to Ipley Cross and home again.
The distance is only about 40km, but it’s a step (rotation?) towards RideLondon. (It’s also the start of my training for another even more exciting event that I’ve got lined up. I will be posting about it later! Spoiler here!)
The bike ride was a chance for me to try out my new SOAS 2019 kit!
The obligatory selfie with Teri by Eling Tide Mill.
The next part of my ‘something had to change plan’ was to make use of my 9am start on Mondays. Last Monday, I went for a swim before work. It’s a challenge to fit it in, but it’s one I’m determined to master. I can’t drop M into the nursery until exactly 8am and I need to be at my desk at 9am. The answer seems to be to arrive before 8am, so that I can take everything into my office before work. I can then be waiting at the nursery to drop M off as soon as the doors are opened before running across the road to the swimming pool.
Last week, I set myself the goal of swimming as far as possible in the time that I had. I managed 1000m, so that’s a clear benchmark to improve on.
This week was a Bank Holiday, so my swimming plans were scuppered, but I’ll be back at it next week.
M is now having swimming lessons on Sunday mornings. She’s really enjoying her time at the pool. Unfortunately, the diving pool is currently being renovated, so the lessons are taking place in the leisure pool. This means that there is no leisure swimming. When it goes back to normal, Stu and I are hoping to fit in some swimming alongside M’s lesson. One of us will stay with her whilst the other swims.
A key part of my ‘something had to change’ plan is rejoining Lordshill Road Runners. I trained with them on Monday and Wednesday last week.
I was in Group A/B (beginners) at the Sports centre for a hills session. It was exactly the kind of session that I need to regain my fitness. I’d like to think that I’m towards the top end of the group and that it won’t take me long to move out. The reality is that I don’t have the fitness, flexibility, strength or endurance right now. I’m also very overweight.
Wednesday evening’s session was really hard. It was a pyramid session of 30 seconds fast; 30 seconds recovery; followed by 60 seconds and then 90 seconds. It was a warm evening and although I recognised a lot of people, I was also acutely aware that they are now much faster than me. In the end, I set myself a personal goal for the session, which was just to keep moving. I don’t think there was much difference in my intervals, but I kept running for 6.5km, which equals my longest run this year.
What else can I fit in?
The final part of my ‘something had to change’ plan is to make better use of my lunch hours. On Monday last week, I enjoyed a lovely relaxing yoga session. I had hoped to book onto another one, but they’re very popular. You have to be online at exactly the right time to book. I definitely need to set myself a calendar reminder to book on!
On Tuesday, I walked to and from work as it was Stu’s day to go out for a run. When I first started walking, I hated it because it felt so slow. Now I miss it a bit when I’m cycling. The difficult part was walking home as I had lots of bags and had been expecting to be able to put them in the buggy, but Stu had collected M and ran home with her!
Much as I love running, I know that I need to spend more time on cycling as it’s the discipline that takes the most time in a triathlon. For this reason, I went to a spinning class on Thursday. It was only 30 minutes, but that was perfect to get me back into it.
I was able to choose a bike that was right in front of the air conditioning unit, which is perfect for me as I overheat so easily. The spin bikes have been replaced since I last went to a spin class and they’re really nice now. It took me longer to get the bike set up than before and I think I didn’t raise the saddle enough before I started. The instructor seemed really friendly and I loved the choice of music.
Sadly, I haven’t kept up the spinning this week. I was meant to go today, but failed to bring a hairbrush, hair bands, towel or water, so I thought I’d better pass on it.
Have you ever lost your exercise mojo and managed to regain it? What did you do?