Saturday, 23 March 2013

2 of 4

At the start of the year I set myself 4 PB challenges for this spring/summer.

5km at parkrun, 5 miles, 10km and half marathon.

A few weeks ago I completely unexpectedly got myself a new parkrun PB. That was number 1 of 4.

Last weekend it was the turn of the half marathon. Seeing as I am only entering the one half marathon this spring, it was an all or nothing attempt to stick to the plan for 4 PBs.

My history with the half marathon is chequered to say the least. I have always thought that the half marathon was just a bit too far for me and I had only done 2 before last Sunday.

My first was the ill fated (for me) Great North Run in 2004 where I ran too fast and ended up being carried over the line and straight into the medical tent with severe dehydration, then suffering memory loss before being transferred to hospital. Not a great debut.

My second was the Coventry half marathon in 2009 where it was purely about laying demons to rest. I set my PB of 1:33:47 that day.

This time round I felt sure of a PB, was confident I could go under 1 hour 30 minutes and to be honest I was aiming for 1 hour 25 minutes and felt confident I could do it.

There was a little panic after the car parking fiasco and I had to run from the car to the start line via toilets and the baggage area. I then had to dodge between a couple of thousand runners to work my way near to the front in the third row. This was the furthest forward I have ever placed myself at the start of a big run but common sense told me this was where I now belong.

I started comfortably, holding back really, but it was still only just over 6 minute mile pace by 2 miles. I was running with my brother and a friend and we then forced ourselves to slow to closer to 6:30 minute miles for the next 3 miles to ensure we didn't run out of steam.

By mile 6 I was like a coiled spring and was desperate to pick up the pace. The other two clearly weren't up for that and after them telling me to go for it a few times and a 10 metre gap opening up after a water stop, I decided that was the time to make my break.

I was probably in around 30th place at the time and my sudden step change in pace back down to 6 minute miles saw me quickly start catching and passing other runners.

From 6 miles on I basically ran the half marathon alone apart from catching and passing runners. At least I knew the cheers and clapping from the spectators was all for me as I went passed on my own.

I used a technique I haven't used before where all I thought about was aiming to be as close to 6 minutes for each mile. Other than being sure I was ahead of 1:25:00 pace I didn't think too much beyond a mile at a time.

I also decided fairly early on that I was going to maintain the same pace to the finish. I was really enjoying my run, I was ahead of schedule and I didn't fancy a fast finish over a number of miles purely to gain another minute when I was already on for a huge PB. The upshot was that I loved every minute of it and ran at a comfortable pace the whole way.

At around 12.5 miles I caught and passed the lead woman. I always seem to do this near to the end of runs!

As I approached the finish line I saw my wife and kids, which was a lovely way to finish the run.

My finish (chip) time was 1:21:50 for a new PB by 11 minutes 57 seconds and i had smashed even my most optimistic of targets (1:25) by over 3 minutes!

Job well and truly done! PB target 2 of 4 for the spring/summer achieved.

Next up its my first attempt (of the year) at a 10km PB in just 2 weeks time. The 10km will be the toughest of all my PB attempts. I'll let you know how I get on.

Friday, 22 March 2013

parkrun registrations this week...22nd March 2013

There is still a little time for new registrations this week, but at the time of writing and compared to the figures in my post this time last week....

Totalling up new registrations across parkrun globally, shows that parkrun has attracted a further 4,692 registrations in a week.

This takes the total number of global parkrun registrations (according to my official source page on the parkrun website) up to 470,690 (up from 465,998). That is a growth in total registrations of over 1% in a week.

As far as I am aware, there are 2 new parkruns starting this weekend:
Cross Flatts parkrun in Leeds and Llyn Llech Owain parkrun near Gorslas, Wales

For the fifth week running Marlay parkrun is at the top of the charts with the most new registrations this week.

Just 5 different parkrun events have added 50 or more new registrants this week and they are:
Event   Total   This week   
Marlay parkrun1150149
Malahide parkrun3621118
Newy parkrun3134115
Nahoon Point parkrun297068
New Farm parkrun493557

No great surprises in the "largest parkrun in the world" (by total registrations) category this week, where it is still the same top 5:
Event   Total   
Bushy parkrun21815
Glasgow parkrun13053
Leeds parkrun11848
Brighton & Hove parkrun10639
Wimbledon Common parkrun10240

Richmond parkrun is now less than 100 away from being the 6th member of the 10,000 registered runners club.

And at the other end of the spectrum (with the lowest number of registered parkrunrunners), but just as worthy of a mention (as these are new or future parkrun events) we have:

Event   Total   
Enniskillen parkrun1
Peter Pan parkrun1
Big Bay parkrun2
Forest Rec parkrun4
Fingal Bay parkrun7

These are 5 new parkruns appearing in the list with registered runners for the first time. It's always great to see new/future parkrun events appaearing in this list.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

parkrun status of the week...16th March 2013

The parkrun statistics of note for this week are:

215 parkrun events run (up 2 on last week). This is yet another new record number of events on a single parkrunday - we are breaking the record every week at the moment!
24,682 runners, down 3,238 on last week.
The average number of runners per parkrun event run was: 114.8 (down 16.2 on last week).

Just 7 events recorded new record attendances, as follows:
Event  Record Attendance  
Amager Strandpark39

The longest standing parkrun attendance record is:
Amager Faelled  146 28/08/2010

And in the UK it's:

The highest attendance this week was 536 at Bushy Park, far lower than their usual turnout these days.

The lowest attendance this week was just 4 Vejen parkrun.

6 new male course records set this week:
Athlete  Time  
CheltenhamDavid ROPER16:20
DewsburyJack HALLAS15:55
EglintonWilliam (Jamie) FINDLAY17:30
MarpleMichael COOKE16:32
Modderfontein ReserveGustav ROOS19:20
MulbartonAdam C CRASKE19:39

9 new female course records set this week:

Event  Athlete  Time  
CheltenhamCatherine TAYLOR19:45
EglintonKaren CONNAL23:12
MulbartonRowena LEARY24:01
Claisebrook CoveMelissa LLOYD18:47
HackworthElizabeth WOOD21:59
MarlayClare SULLIVAN18:42
WallaceJulie MURPHY20:04
Camp BastionLucy ANDERSON20:38
HavantJessica CHEN19:09

60 runners ran times under 17 minutes this week. 5 of these runners ran under 16 minutes.
The fastest parkrunner in the World this Week was Rob Bugden, running 15:25 at Cardiff parkrun.

The fastest 5 were as follows:
Event  Athlete  Time  
CardiffRob BUGDEN15:25
NewyScott WESTCOTT15:40
DewsburyJack HALLAS15:55
PrincesDouglas ROBERTS15:57
NorwichPiers ARNOLD15:58

242 new category records were set across all parkrun events this weekend.

The top age grade performance this week was:
Event  Athlete  Time  Age Group  Age Grade  
SouthamptonLucy ELLIOTT18:05       VW45-4989.59%

The fastest freedom run on the "most recent 100" list at the moment is:
Runner  Date  Location  Run Time  
Phil ABBOTT17/03/2013Colwick00:19:12

Core team, diggers and an alternate route

Coventry parkrun has been very lucky to have been run from concept until now (over 3 years later), by our amazing Event Director, Jason Douglas.

The dedication required for one person to start up and then to keep a parkrun event going should not be unbderestimated. Recently the core team principle, used by many other parkrun events (to share the administrative load), was proposed to the volunteer group at Coventry parkrun.

As a result I believe that we now have two full core teams in place. In case you don't know how this concept works, the idea is that a core team consists of 4 people and these people take responsibility for one parkrun every few weeks and take on four of the main volunteer roles. Those being, Run Director (plus results upload), Timer, Numbers and Registration.

I was brave/foolish/drunk enough at the time of reading that first email request, to gather a few friends and put our names forward as a core team. Last weekend saw our first outing and the first of any core team outing at Coventry parkrun, with me as Run Director for my second time. And what a weekend to pick!

It turned out that Coventry City Council had planned to start some major path resurfacing works in the park, on a section of the parkrun route normally used in both directions twice per parkrun. Oh and they started it just the day before parkrun, on Friday.

Now this is great news long term as it means we will have some fantastic, smooth, flat tarmac surfaces to run on in a few weeks time, but for a core team on their first outing, and with me as Run Director for only the 2nd time, this was an extra challenge that I would not have wished for. But so be it!

So where there were supposed to be parkrunners there were now diggers! An alternative route was required and with a little help from our amazing Event Director a new route was concieved on parkrun eve.

Funnilly enough, parkrun eve also saw 4 of us, our Event Director and 3 of the core team, each take our own separate look at the works and a tour of the park to ensure that the proposed route was clear and long enough. Now that's parkrun dedication for you.

My Run Director introduction speech was a little longer (and ever so slightly more confusing) than usual, with many exclaiming that they were mentally "lost" by the time I had explained turns 6 and 7 (of about 13), but all in all everyone adapted well to the new course and it all seemed to go very smoothly. Thanks of course to all the volunteers out on the course on the day.

I have to say that Saturday was the first time when I have volunteered at parkrun and haven't had the slightest thought of wishing I had been running. I enjoyed Run Directing so much that the thought never entered my mind. I would never have expected that to happen.

Next week the pathway disruption will move to the next section of the park and the headache baton is passed back to our usual Event and Run Director who will no doubt make it all look far more easy than I did.

Even with all the added difficulties I am still very glad that I put our names forward as a new core team. I would encourage every other parkrunner to put their name forward to be a Run Director, part of a core team or take on any other parkrun volunteer position for that matter. All the positions are all far easier and a lot more fun than you might think. Go on, give it a go!