Reaching 100 parkruns… finally

I can remember my first parkrun experience like it was yesterday.

Due to another commitment, I was unable to run at the first Eastleigh parkrun on the 8th May 2010 but I did manage to get down to Lakeside Country Park with our Labrador as the event team were tidying up and spoke to the then Event Director, Brett, to say that I hoped to make it to the next event. Little would either of us know at that time that within 6 months I’d be taking over the role from him.

Another commitment meant that I couldn’t get to the 2nd event but I vowed to make it the following week, Saturday 22nd May 2010. Third time lucky… At that event, I stood on the start line with 71 others not realising just how parkrun would change my life over the next 4 ½ years.

In that time, my parkrun journey has included many exciting opportunities, including helping to set up new parkruns at Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley, Southampton Common, North Walls Recreation Ground in Winchester, Brock College in Brockenhurst and, most recently, Southampton junior parkrun at Riverside Park, Bitterne. It’s been great to have run many parkruns with my 8 year old son, Daniel. However, my proudest moment to date has been as a Batonbearer for the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay. After running my 100th parkrun, I may have to rethink my proudest moment though…

My youngest son, Connor, aged 6, likes to tell me that I ‘eat parkrun, sleep parkrun, dream parkrun, am parkrun’… I have to resist temptation as remind him that I am not parkrun as ‘parkrun is a free timed 5km event held on a Saturday morning’! If I did, he’d no doubt say ‘parkrun! BORING!’ I’m beginning to wonder whether my name should be on his Birth Certificate.

It’s true that parkrun has consumed a fair amount of my time over the last 4 years or so but I wouldn’t have changed that. There are many special people that make our events so amazing. My contribution has been small compared to many that help every week.

Since 2010, there have been many times where I’ve wondered whether I’ll reach my 100th parkrun. The elapsed time, in which other parkrunners have almost reached 250 events, has mostly been due to my volunteering at parkrun events. In fact, looking at my volunteering stats, I’m reported to have undertaken over 330 roles at almost 190 events! In the last year or so, I’ve been that I’ve been able to run at more events whilst being able to get my volunteer-fix by helping out at Southampton junior parkrun. That’s made me feel less guilty about running on a Saturday morning.

With some careful planning and a parkrun-double on New Year’s Day, I managed to coincide my 100th event with a fancy dress event at Eastleigh parkrun which involved wearing hi-viz! D’oh! Fortunately, the fancy dress and the promise that there’d be cake meant that many parkrun friends who usually run at other events decided to converge on Fleming Park. In fact, the attendance of 197 runners was one of the highest for the event (apart from the 200th event on the 19th April 2014) since Netley Abbey and Southampton parkrun events started in March and July 2012 respectively. It was great to be joined by so many people who’ve become friends in the last 4 or so years. Perhaps the lesson to learn here is that parkrunners like cake!

It’s been an amazing experience to have been involved with parkrun locally and my 10th parkrun was the icing on the (cup) cake! To have so many friends share my 100th parkrun with me was very special. Thank you so much for your part in my life over the last 4-5 years. To quote the title of Debra Bourne’s book about the first 10 years of parkrun, parkrun is ‘much more than just a run in the park’.

Of course, my parkrun journey has only just begun and completing 100 parkruns just marks the end of one chapter with a new one already started.

In the first chapter, I’ve become a runner, Race Directed several races, carried the Commonwealth Baton, competed in several triathlons, recently become a Run Leader and made lots of friends. In the next chapter, my involvement with parkrun will become stronger and I’ll slowly plod towards my 250th parkrun which, with luck, will be before I reach my 50th birthday (this will require me to run parkruns for about 7 in 10 weekends between now and then).

‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ Course – my experience

As an active member of Lordshill Road Runners, I’ve been participating in training sessions for several months now and have really enjoyed them. On some weeks, they are the highlight of my training week. It’s great to train with others and it’s also been a great way of making new running friends.

At training, we’re indebted to those that deliver these sessions; the coaches and Run Leaders (also known as a LiRF or Leader in Running Fitness) who often put their training on hold for an evening to help others. They do so voluntarily out of the goodness of their hearts!

For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of training as a Run Leader but never quite committed. However, late last year I decided that I’d stop procrastinating and sign up for the next Leadership in Running Fitness course which was being held at my local sports/leisure centre – Fleming Park in Eastleigh.

As my intention was to help out at club training sessions, I was fortunate enough to have the course paid for by the club. I had offered to self-fund but was grateful that the club’s coffers were bursting at the seams!

As a club with well over 300 members, we’re fortunate to have 2 coaches and several Run Leaders. However, this isn’t really enough as it means that for many sessions a group of 15 or more runners only has one Run Leader. Although this isn’t often an issue, the bigger issue is that it’s difficult to cover sessions when those Run Leaders want to take a holiday or need a break (and believe me, they deserve one). We do have several trained Run Leaders who are currently inactive for a variety of reasons (work, family, injury etc) as well as some that have taken the training course but never led a session. I’m not too sure why that would be the case…

From a club-perspective, I’m sure that the ideal would be to have so many coaches and Run Leaders that they can lead sessions for so many weeks and then take a few weeks off to concentrate on their own training or take some time off and chill out and I hope that this post will help encourage some club members to consider taking a LiRF course to allow this to happen. It would also be great if a few of the more experienced Run Leaders would consider taking the extra steps to become a Coach in Running Fitness.

Of course, there may be lots of great reasons for not wanting to become a Run Leader:

  • I’m too busy training – just because you’re a Run Leader doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a session. You could lead the pack during a tempo run or long run
  • I need to focus on slower paced runs – drop down a group and help with that group or act as tail runner for your group
  • I’m not confident leading a group – you can simply act as tail runner and offer support to the others in the group
  • I can’t commit to leading every week – the more Run Leaders the club has, the more time Run Leaders can take time off.
  • I don’t have enough technical knowledge to feel confident in the role – next to no technical knowledge is required to be a Run Leader. Most of it is common sense!
  • I’m injured and can’t run – Run Leaders can lead a group from a bike or, in many sessions, from a stationary position!

Anyway, back to the day of the course…

The course started at 9am and when I arrived at the Park Suite at Fleming Park, I was quite surprised to see about 30 chairs set up. I was expecting about 15 to be on the course but this was a big underestimate.

I recognised several faces from various places. There were a handful of club members there from LRR, as well as Henry from WADAC. I also recognised a couple of local parkrunners and parents of children that take part in Southampton junior parkrun.

The course was a mix of theory and practical and was delivered by two experienced coaches; Suzy and Beth. There was also another lady, Peggy, whose primary role appeared to be making sure that the course was delivered correctly and to appraise Suzy and Beth.

The first task we had to do was to call out what we wanted to achieve from the course and these were then written on a board. After that, we had to each write down why we wanted to be a Run Leader on a post-it and affix it to a board. We then had to take someone else’s post-it and then try and find that person. This was a great way of introducing ourselves to each other.

Although the LiRF role was probably introduced as a way of getting Running Groups set up in communities (as part of Run England), many clubs have chosen to get enthusiastic members trained up to help deliver their training sessions in a safe way. I’d say that a majority of those present were going to be providing the latter.

After we’d done our introductions, we discussed the roles of a leader and what being ‘individual centred’ might mean. After that we heard about the ‘Athlete Development Model’ which comprises of 3 stages:

  • fundamentals
  • foundation
  • event group

Next up, we discussed the various stages of planning a training session and the importance of ongoing risk assessments and safety for participants.

Next, We moved out of the conference room for our first practical which was related to the safety and organisation of the warm up for a session.

Initially, the trainers gave us a warm up session and then described the approach they’d taken to make sure that we as participants understood what we had to do, that we did so safely and that the person leading the warm up was positioned well to keep an eye on those taking part in the session.

As part of the warm up, we were introduced to the Endurance Technical Template which provides a few simple pointers for a good running form (imagine having a helium balloon attached to your head and that will lead to a good running form).

In the warm up, we were reminded that dynamic stretching and flexibility exercises were important and that static stretches prior to activity were not considered best practice. We were also reminded that the warm up should be progressive and build up gradually to ensure that the participants were ready mentally and physically for the main part of the session.

With a fair amount to take in, it was then our turn to split into small groups to deliver a warm up session to the other participants.

In each group, we were given a target group demographic so that we could tailor the warm up to them. These included:

  • a group of children
  • a group of ex-sportsmen and women
  • a group of over 60s
  • a group of beginners

Each time we lead such an exercise, we could add one to our tally of leader activities.

The practical sessions were a great way to make use of what we’d learned and to bond with the other people on the course (they were also a way of keeping warm on a very chilly day!)

After a coffee break, we covered cool down and stretches in the studio. There were about 6 different stretches covered and the method of delivering the demonstrations was interesting. It basically consisted of a brief intro to what the stretch was for, a couple of pointers for what to look out for in the stretch, a silent demo and then some open questions back to the group to make sure they understood the stretch and its benefits.

Our next practical exercise was to then each deliver a stretch demo. After each, we were given feedback from the group and the trainers.

Before long it was lunch-time, a chance to speak with the other participants and to look forward to the rest of the day.

Our next session was a theory session on:

  • performance factors
  • components of fitness
  • FIT factors
  • and Energy Systems

This may sound overwhelming but the reality was that none of the theory was very challenging and, as will the rest of the course, was delivered really well in a fun, engaging and easy-to-understand manner.

The biggest practical session then took us outside. Before we did that though, we were introduced to several example session plans. These included sessions such as:

  • Out and back
  • Fartlek
  • Indian File
  • Raid the Goal
  • Fixed point repetitions
  • Meet and retreat
  • Loop back
  • Relays or pairs running

We were then split into groups of 3 or 4 and each group was given a session to delivery. This meant that in each group, we had to:

  • perform a risk assessment
  • decide on equipment needs (cones, whistle, etc)
  • provide a suitable warmup
  • provide the main session (ours was ‘out and back’)
  • provide cooldown and stretches

As we weren’t quite sure of where we’d be delivering the session, we had to work out the main session once we got to the location where we were delivering it.

Fellow LRR, Ashley, was in my group and we decided to do the main session part with an ERC member, James handling the warm up and Matt providing the cool down and stretches.

Before we could do that though, we had to participate in a couple of the other group’s sessions. These were fun and gave a good opportunity to steal some good ideas and also avoid any mistakes they’d made.

After each session, the groups provided feedback along with the trainer.

When it was our turn to deliver the session, Ash and I quickly organised how we’d do the main set. We decided on a pyramid set of timed runs with the out being at a steady pace with the back being faster. The pyramid was:

  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 10 seconds

We had 2 minutes to deliver the warm up, 4 minutes for the main session and then 2 minutes for the cool down and stretches. Clearly, a very condensed session but more than long enough to get the idea of what worked and what didn’t.

After James had delivered the warm up, it was time for Ash and I to take centre-stage! Eek!

It was amazing how long the 4 minutes took. The group participating in the session were trying really hard. So hard in fact, that I think a couple of the runners almost broke themselves! Result! ;)

Once Matt had delivered the cool down, it was time for some feedback.

Overall, it was very good. I’d forgotten to ask some open questions to allow the participants the chance to demonstrate that they understood what they’d be doing in the main set. However, we got praised highly for running alongside the runners to give them feedback and encouragement (and for us to keep warm!)

That was the last practical of the day and after the last group had delivered their session, we returned to the ‘class room’ to go through a paper exercise of delivering a 6 week programme for participants working towards a 5km run. Ash and I worked together on this and worked out a detailed plan including locations, paces and session types.

The last couple of sessions were related to the role of the leader in injury prevention and management and the personal development of Run Leaders. Again, these weren’t that detailed or technical and as with the rest of the course, there was a lot of audience participation and discussion.

Before long, the day of training was over. We’d learned a fair amount, put lots of it into practice and had a good amount of fun along the way. The course was really well delivered throughout and a great mix of theory and practical sessions. The theory was never dull or too detailed and there were plenty of opportunities to talk about each subject and for people to share their experiences. Also, there wasn’t any individual assessment so really no pressure at all to perform.

So… Now I’m a Leader In Running Fitness! I’ve already put some of what I learned on the course into practice! This evening, I attended a LRR training session and assisted experienced LiRF, Dave, by tail running in the group and by delivering the post-cool down stretches. I had anticipated that Dave would ask me if I wanted to do those and had been practicing during the day so that I didn’t look like a complete wazzock! I’m not too sure whether I managed that but would like to think that I got away with it.

Overall, the training was excellent. I’d recommend it to any club member who wants to do a little extra for the club. For our club, the more members we can get to help with Run Leading, even if it’s only helping with part of the session, (e.g. the introduction, warm up, main session, cooldown or stretches), the easier it becomes for the rest of the Run Leaders. As Run Leaders become more experienced, they could start to lead the sessions and then provide an opportunity for a couple of Run Leaders per group and/or the ability for RLs to have time off to concentrate on their training. If you’re a LRR member and want to give a little more to the club, why not consider becoming a LiRF! You don’t need to be super-fit (I’m not!), be one of the faster runners (I’m most certainly not!), know all about running technique and optimising perfomance (I don’t!), be the most popular member (I’m not!) or do more than help out in a group. Try it, you might just love it! Take a look at what the course entails and then contact the coach in your club (or any committee member). If you’re a LRR member, it’d be best to contact Ben Pitman. Please let them know that this blog post helped you decide to go that extra mile (if it did!)

I have come away from the course and this evening’s training session feeling really positive. I’m even considering taking the next step and taking the course to become a Coach in Running Fitness! You know me, I love a challenge!! ;)

Daniel returns to parkrun and ‘beats’ me again

Yesterday, I completed my 99th parkrun and it’s now only 6 days until I reach my milestone of 100 parkruns. It’s taken almost 5 years to get this far and it was great to be at Eastleigh parkrun to complete #99. Not only that but after 68 weeks, my 8 year old, Daniel, joined me for his 27th 5km event.

Daniel’s first parkrun was back on the 15th December 2012 and he completed about 25 parkruns before deciding that 5km was too far for him. The reason for this decision was that Southampton junior parkrun had opened (in November 2013) and he much preferred the shorter 2km course.

In the 26 parkrun events, Daniel has run at 7 different venues including Eastleigh, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Brockenhurst, Winchester, Queen Elizabeth and Bournemouth. Of all of these events, he has a favourite – Eastleigh parkrun. I’m not sure why but suspect it’s due to familiarity of the event and the fact that he’s quite well known amongst the core community there who always give him encouragement – even if he’s one of the last to finish. One thing that is guaranteed each week is that he’ll cross the line ahead of me and this has happened on each of the 27 parkruns he’s completed to date. My street cred (what little there is) has plummeted – as has my RunBritain ranking.

However, given my achy foot of last weekend, I welcomed the opportunity to walk/run the course which is how we take on the 5km.

We start off with the good intention of running most of the way but Daniel’s inner demons and fatigue mean that by the 3rd lap we’re running and walking in equal measure. For those that think that juniors shouldn’t be running 5km, rest assured that the distance is littered with walk breaks and the actual running distance is likely to be less than half of the total distance.

Like his Dad, Daniel has no natural running ability but enjoys the events. It’s our opportunity to do some physical activity together. As parents, our role for our children that do sporty things is to, more often than not, act as chauffeur and then watch from a distance and this is my role each week for Daniel karate, diving and swimming lessons. At parkrun, we get the chance to run(/walk) together.

I’m not a pushy parent. A little positive encouragement goes a long way but there are times when the frustration of having to hold Daniel’s hand the whole way around (I shouldn’t complain) or an unnecessary walk break require a stern word. There have been tears mostly born from a stitch (too much breakfast before the event) but sometimes caused by my insistence that he ‘let go of my hand’, run ahead of him briefly, suggest that we keep up with a group in front or simply the fact that the day has a ‘y’ in it. Ultimately, these minor blips are soon forgotten as Daniel sprints to the finish line in a surge of energy that comes from nowhere to beat me again ( ;-) ). Humph!

Honkin’ like a donkey

I’m not sure what my blog readers have done to deserve a mid-week update but you’ll know for the next time.

On Monday, I decided that my achy foot needed a rest and that running would have to be put on hold for a few days. With that in mind, I made the decision to not run in next Sunday’s Stubbington 10K and transfer the place to someone who’d not been able to get in prior to entry closing. Having found a suitable replacement and asked that rather than pay me for the place that they make a donation to charity, I decided that I’d focus on the pool and bike for the week until parkrunday.

This did mean that I would miss Lordshill training which was disappointing. However, it gave me an excellent opportunity to get back to the Monday evening STC swim session. I decided that I’d attend the 8pm session as it’s normally quieter. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were only 3-of us in the lane; Donna, Liz and myself.

The session consisted of a warm-up (200m swim, 200m pull, 100m swim) followed by 10 x 50m fast. My first 4 or 5 sets were at a reasonable pace. I did catch up with Liz and then drafted Liz fort the rest of the sweet!

At some point, we had to do 100m kick – one of my worst nightmare in the pool and some drills that involved no arms. At that point I was beginning to regret my decision to attend.
We then had to do another 5 x 50m at race pace before cooling down. In total we swam less than 1.8km and it had felt tough. Having said that, it’s should have done after not having swum for a fee months.

Just got a moment to explain the blog post title… it could have been ‘It does what it says on the tin’. I’ve recently changed anti-perspirant/deodorant. For quite a while I’ve had times where I’ve honked like a donkey and that’s been after regular showering and the use of Lynx. I’d hoped to smell delightful after such a regime but must have been very unpleasant to be close to. There are plenty of reasons to avoid me, but I didn’t want body odour to be the main one. The Lynx Effect hasn’t been as the TV adverts had portrayed at all. Instead, it would appear that the roll-on I’d been using had become ineffective. I decided that I could no longer suffer my own stinkiness so choose a different under-arm wiff-neutraliser. The difference has been amazing. I still smell gorgeous (some creative licence there I think we’ll both agree. If only I could buy a spray that could make me look half decent let alone gorgeous) after 24 hours and feel that I can spent time in the company of others without them wondering whether I’ve been living in a shop doorway. As out turns out, I checked out The Lynx roll on bottle to find that it was only an anti-perspirant. D’oh. Please note that I’d prefer that you didn’t all tell me know how smelly I was. Let’s just consider it as an understanding between us.

A friend recently told me to stop putting myself down. In complete honestly, I do it for ‘entertainment’ (using the term very lightly) and don’t have a low opinion of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far, far, far from perfect and have lots of faults. You know what they are. Moving on…

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Back to my week… Tuesday was a ‘rest day’ which meant I could be lazy. Rest days are bad. They mean I have to watch what I eat and can often result in eating several hundred calories more than I should. As one of my goals, I’ve started recording what I’ve been eating using myfitnesspal. This app is amazing and without it, I have no self-control over what I eat.

I’ve also started using an app called ‘Way of Life’ in which you define a series of daily goals. I’ve chosen several including:

– Tracking food
– Not ordering from Amazon
– Practicing guitar
– Not eating crisps
– Going out for a run
– Do 3 hamstring stretches a day
– Eat fruit

Each goal can be categorised as good or bad. At the end of each day, you go through each goal and indicate whether you achieved it. It’s given me some focus and appears to be working.

One of my daily goals listed above is ‘Do 3 hamstring stretches a day’. I can’t touch my toes (well, I can but you know what I mean) and haven’t been able to for as many years as I care to remember. I’ve been told that being flexible and being able to touch my toes is a good thing (unless ‘soap on a rope’ is also part of the equation). So, I’m trying to get to the point where I can reach this goal. Once I can do it, expect me to be showing my new skill off at every opportunity. Apologies in advance.

Back on track. My enforced, self-inflicted running ban meant that on Wednesday I decided that I’d go out on the bike. Having swum on Monday meant I’d also decided to not get out of bed at an unacceptable hour for the STC Swim session.

There was every likelihood that I’d bail due to poor weather conditions which included high winds and wintry showers. (Un)fortunately, the weather gods decided to reward me with a 45 minute respite from the wind and rain so that I could enjoy a 40 minute cycle ride in the sunshine. I took the opportunity to try out my Garmin Virb Ellie action camera which had been reduced it price to such a degree that Amazon were practically giving out away. Why did I want to record my journey on an action camera? Well, because I can. It’s sad to admit that I’ve really enjoyed playing back the footage especially when stats from the Virb’s GPS are included (it’s also possible to pair ANT+ sensors such as cadence and heart rate although I’d forgotten to do that) and overlay those over the video footage.

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I really enjoyed the ride (and reliving it numerous times) and am looking forward to a break in the forecast wintry weather in the next week to be able to get out again.

2015 week 2

It’s the 12th January already and from a training perspective, things haven’t quite give to plan.

Monday was Lordshill training. I made the decision to run with group E and enjoyed the session (I’ve blogged about it already so won’t go into the details again).

Tuesday was due to be a bike session but it was raining and windy so I bailed. I could have used the rollers but didn’t. Not impressed with myself.

Wednesday was due to be my first STC swim session of the week but I didn’t get out of bed. D’oh!

On Thursday I did some exercise. Woo hoo. I’ve enjoyed LRR training and have been toying with the idea of returning to Run Camp for the early morning track session. With both LRR and STC offering track sessions, the decision to pay for Run Camp instead is due to the fact it:

– fits better into my weekly schedule. I simply wouldn’t get away with another evening out training
– incorporates strength and conditioning which saves me having to fit my own session in

There were a couple of familiar faces in the group (Steve, Darren and Jenny) but the others were strangers. The session comprised of a 800m warm-up followed by a kettlebell set and then 4x400m, another kettlebell set, 4x400m, kettlebell set and then a cool down. Although I enjoyed the session, I struggled a little/lot and missed the old gang of Run Campers.

Later in the day, the ball off my right foot started to feel achy. This was similar to the ache I had after using Vibrams. With Stubbington 10K on Sunday, and big plans not too far off, I don’t want to get injured. What had caused the ache? I’m not sure. Maybe I need to retire my adidas Boosts. It’s more likely that my ridiculous lack of control with eating has led to the inevitable piling of the pounds and almost reaching the heaviest I’ve been for a couple of years. I’ve only got myself to blame and really need to focus on eating more healthily. My weight gain has meant I’m feeling less confident about getting back into swimming too. I know that I just need to bite the (calorie-free) bullet and just go to the pool and try to do so a couple of times a week.

On Friday I’d another bike session planned but work got in the way alongside a high dose of ‘can’t be arsed’.

On Saturday I had a decision to make. Having opened so many parkruns Inn the area, choosing one is sometimes a challenge. I had narrowed the choice down to Eastleigh, Netley Abbey or Southampton. Each has their attractions for the day and with the help of an iPhone app (and enough attempts to get the decisIon I wanted), I headed to Royal Victoria Country Park, the home of Netley Abbey parkrun.

The weather wasn’t kind with high winds and a little drizzle. However, it was good to see many parkrun friends and enjoy the 3-lap out and back course which affords lots of opportunities to shout encouragement to them. Of the local parkrun, the course is the best for that in fact I’m beginning to favour NA over Eastleigh at the moment although Southampton has a few positives that make it another contender for my local favourite parkrun with its all tarmac course and the fact many friends run at the event. I don’t feel as if I have a home event as such (other than Southampton juniors) although Eastleigh parkrun is officially my home event.

Whist at Netley Abbey, Southampton parkrun welcomed a massive 700+ turnout. Clearly a combination of students returning after their Christmas break and those with New Year’s Resolutions bolstered the numbers to a new attendance record which was likely one of the highest in the country for the weekend.

In the afternoon, we took the boys to a fun swim session at Totton Leisure Centre. This gave me a little opportunity to do some swimming. Well. A free widths of the pool and a few rubbish attempts at tumble turns before the pool filled with kids on floats. At least I can say (with a large lunch of salt) that I’ve been swimming.

Sunday was junior parkrun day. As Daniel and I were leaving to head down to Riverside Park, Connor decided to join us which, as he’d only just got up, meant a rush to get him dressed and fed before driving to RP.

We made it in time and arrived at 8:30am, unloaded the equipment and headed straight out to set up the course. Both Daniel and Connor helped and we got back to the start area with a few minutes to spare. The turnout was massive. I did wonder whether we’d have enough finish tokens but with 125 junior finishers, it looks like the numbers in attendance were swelled by running parents. I suspect a few were using the 2km run as a means of getting some more exercise as part of a New Year’s Resolution.

2015 so far

With the arrival of a New Year, it’s customary to set done New Year’s Resolutions and share them with all and sundry. Given that it’s then customary to break those resolutions and then share the excuses with those same people, I’ll save my breath and your time and skip over mine.

It’s been a hectic New Year so far. It’s crazy to think the new century was 15 years ago. I remember 2000 well as the year that everyone expected to not happen given the expectation that the millennium bug would pulverize computer systems around the globe. It was also the year I got married.

On New Year’s Day, I did a parkrun-double. This consisted of my first visit to Netley Abbey parkrun of 2015 followed by a quick drive and long wait in the car to run at Southampton parkrun. Neither run was pretty managing to complete both in just under 27 minutes. My excuses? The remains of man-flu which is really a chesty cough which makes me wheeze like a long-time smoker and also some excess festive poundage. In reality, the latter is due to excess poundage (8kg) since August.

The extra festive parkruns mean that I had the opportunity to get much closer to my 100th parkrun. Hooray! With a parkrun on Saturday too, I’ve now reached 97 parkrun events and that means that I’ve only got 3 more to go before reaching my 100th event. My aim is to do that on the 24th January which coincides with my running club’s (Lordshill Road Runners) annual dinner dance and awards evening.

At Saturday’s parkrun, I decided to run semi-naked. Don’t worry!! No-one had to endure the sight of my naked middle age rump, meat or two veg running around Southampton Common. I simply mean that I ran without regularly looking at my Garmin. I started it, rolled down my sleeve and then didn’t refer to it until I crossed the line.

I felt my pace was good and as I checked my finish time was looking forward to going sub-25. Unfortunately, that, along with many of my expectations, was wishful-thinking as I saw 26+ minutes on the screen. A small reward was that the ‘performance’ was significantly better than than either of my NYD runs. That’s progress!

On the subject of parkrun, did you see the growth of this phenomena in RunBritain’s article?

Monday evening was Lordshill training. The schedule name was rather cryptic and given the previously shared excuses, I did consider dropping down a group to feel more comfortable but decided to zip up my high-viz man-suit and stick with group E. As it turned out, several friends were having the same concern about the session and we did the best we could to encourage each other to stay in the group or at least work together to reduce the pace to a level that it would feel comfortable.

The session ended up being a 10.5 km run at a steady pace with a long climb up Bassett Green Road past the crematorium (handily positioned 2/3rds of the way up the hill where it’s most needed during the session). Without the encouragement of the group and especially Teri, Donna, Jon, Tamsyn, Pat, Laura, Luana, Claire and, Run Leader, Dave, I’d not have considered the run, route or pace. I can wholeheartedly recommend club training sessions particularly with Lordshill Road Runners.

My next race is 12 days away. I’m running Stubbington 10K which is a popular local race. It was going to be my opportunity to go for a 10K PB but the reality is that I’m a long way from that in terms of fitness and am about 2kg heavier than the last time I got close to a 10K PB and almost 10kg heavier than 5 months ago. Shame on me! I will therefore ‘do my best under the circumstances’ at Stubbington and target Eastleigh 10K as my opportunity to smash out a PB. That race is just under 11 weeks away so I have no excuses to not get back to a reasonable weight and get some decent training in for that. Queue plenty of excuses on race day!

10 things you probably already know about me!

In middle-age, for many, there are often fewer opportunities for people to do so and for past generations, many people’s circle of friends contracts rather than expands once reaching one’s 40s, 50s and beyond.

I get to meet new people regularly.

Mostly, the expansion of my circle-of-friends has been via the running club I’m a member of, Lordshill Road Runners, or parkrun.

These friendship start with a hello or an introduction. Before long, we’re seeing each other more regularly at training sessions, parkrun or other events… just about remembering each other’s names, discussing recent achievements and slowly learning a little about each other.

One opportunity to get to know me better is to read this blog where I post about my running and triathlon-related experiences. Most of it is dull I’m sure but my aim is to keep track of what I’ve done in the hope that when I’m older and greyer and my memory has diminished that I can remind myself, and maybe others, what I’ve done and achieved since getting off my rapidly-expanding derriere, deciding to start running at the grand old age of 39.

However, to ease the introduction and to provide a summary of a little about me (mostly related to running, triathlon or similar activities) for recently acquired friends, here are 10 things you may (or may not) know about me.

a) I’ve been married for 14 years to Denise and we have two boys – Daniel aged 8 and Connor aged 6. We also have an old, black, overweight Labrador named Milly.

b) I am currently Technical Director for an online florist who I’ve worked for for about 12 years. I am very lucky to be able to work from home and have had few reasons to leave the house due to this. I do get to spend a lot of time with the boys and get to hero get then ready for school, wave then off and greet then when they return.

c) in 2009, the fact that I rarely left the house, increasingly more mobile children and feeling less and less active meant that I took up running to train for a charity 10K (it was also the first 10K event that Di Mattingly did)

d) I found out about parkrun in late 2009 and attended my first parkrun event at Eastleigh parkrun’s 3rd event in May 2010 (also Lewis Chalk’s first parkrun – Lewis was first across the line)

e) I took over as Event Director (ED) at Eastleigh parkrun in late 2010 and then went on to set up, and become ED, at Netley Abbey parkrun and Southampton parkrun before passing on the reins to others once established.

f) I’m now the Event Director for Southampton junior parkrun (which started in November 2013) as well as being a parkrun Ambassador (helping existing events as well as helping teams establish new events) and parkrun Event Adjudicator. To date I’ve volunteered at about 180 parkrun events undertaking over 300 roles (including being Run Director at about 40 events).

g) I’m a proud member of Lordshill Road Runners, a club I joined about 3-years ago. I became Vice Chairman for the club in September 2013, help organise the popular LRR Mile Series and have been Run Director for several of the club’s races (10 Mile 2013, 10K 2014 and 10K 2015).

h) As well as enjoying running, I’m a keen triathlete (although not particularly good at either!) and have completed several since my first in June 2013. The longest triathlon I’ve completed to date is the Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Triathlon in September 2013. I do have ambitions of doing a full Iron distance event one day!

i) I like organising things (as should be apparent from the above) and am fairly good at time management in order to juggle the things I do, training, work and hectic family life.

j) I thrive on challenges. I know lots of people who don’t appear to set themselves any other charges other than living from day to day. I gotta that for many years I was the same just getting through each day, week, month and year. However, my life is now made up of multiple challenges and they give a great focus.

So, there you go. That’s a little about me!