I know you thought yesterday was Saturday but actually, you were wrong: it was Park Run Day.

Happy with my week’s training, and determined to take on Mr Parkrun Noob, I tucked into a light breakfast and then donned my armour: running shorts, my favourite running top, clean socks -yeah, clean is a bonus – and of course, runners.

With my secret weapon all set to be unleashed from my ipod(Shhhhhh! It’s the Black Eyed Peas album The Begining) I was good to go.

Now yesterday was wet. Unusually so. After a glorious July, it seemed like the whole month’s rain had been detained in some vast holding area in the skies only to be unceremoniously dumped on the entire park run population on Saturday morning. Rain skittered across my windscreen as I drove to the park run venue and then I saw it.













Beyond the sign lay a treacherous bend and, from the whirl of blue lights and flashing tail lights, I knew someone had come a cropper on the greasy roads. Thankful that it wasn’t me, nevertheless, I still had to make to the parkrun venue on time.

The Garda (yep, we call our policemen Gardaí) held up his hand and I rolled down the window. He eyed my running gear appreciatively. Or, more likely, the body beneath

He peered in through the window and, with shake of his head, said

“I’m sorry, there’s been an accident so all traffic has to be detoured via The Sticks”

“Is everyone okay?”

“Yes, it seems so but it’s always a shock, of course”

Swiftly forgetting the agony for the people ahead of me, I glanced at the clock and realised I wouldn’t make it. Not in time to run, at any rate.

By the time I got to The Sticks, my good form had reasserted itself. I needed to train harder anyway for park run. Last week’s I’d got out of my comfort zone and pushed for speed. I finally felt I was creeping back to that place I was in two year’s ago, pre marathon and pre injured feet. I felt strong again. I needed to build on that.

I pulled up at the park run venue in time to see the first runners arrive in. It’s always so interesting to watch such a variety of finishes, from the steady super fast athletes who manage to sustain the same blistering pace throughout, to the little kid who lops along easily and then makes a break at the sight of the word Finish. And then those who struggle just to make the distance and have that sheer determined look that says

“I’ll finish, even if it kills me”

I stayed in my running gear all morning, watching the skies for a break from water torture. And I got my golden hour.

Lopping along by the river, I kept an eye on the Garmin so I’d keep my pace in the 5.40 min/km range for the three miles out, quelling my whiny self to maintain a steady pace.

I allowed myself to relax a little on the way back in. As usual the rewards came in the form of nature’s surprises: the blue flash of a kingfisher whizzing by, the grey on grey of the heron lifting his ungainly body above the river, the brilliant yellow bill, tipped with orange that is the herring gull’s. All of these things lift my heart and remind me why I run.

So I missed the park run. But, instead, I bagged myself a run which had a happy combination of progress and pleasure.

Sometimes-maybe most times-life’s little detours can take us to better places.





The Green-Eyed Monster

Met a fellow parkrunner yesterday. Now, he’s a noob on the scene, glorying in his new found sport and newly toned body. And he’s buzzing with his park run success. Three runs down and already, he’s snipped three minutes of his initial parkrun time.

Natch, I’m extremely jealous.

How did it go for you last week? I asked, in relation to his latest park run.

I’m down to 26 minutes now, he grinned.  Hey, well done! I said, through gritted teeth.

You going next week?  he asked

Oh, probably, I said with a nonchalance I hoped conveyed that I hadn’t been bursting a gut training for it these past two weeks. There I am three runs in on our new course and I’ve knocked a whole twenty seconds off.

You’ll have to catch up with me then, he laughed.

Oh, I’ll be behind you all the way, I said. I swear he didn’t hear what I mumbled after that. He was just all to smug and pleased with himself

I ran last night. My two mile negative split run. The quick one, where I imagine myself bursting out of the box like a grey hound and running like hell. Knowing, of course, I probably look like a bloody ridiculous sweaty old woman shuffling along

Still, I ran the fastest two miles I’ve done in a very long time. Actually managed to kick into the magic(for me-it’s all relative, remember) 5:10 min per km average for a good portion of the return mile.

Yeah, I know, the conversions are a pain. But parkrun is 5km and, if I kept that pace up, I’d manage a 25-26 minute park run and beat the socks of Mr. Parkrun Noob.

Sadly, I can’t keep that pace up. Not yet. But Mr. Noob has added a little fuel to my fire now. And another focus for my training. And another reason to, at the very least, beat myself.

And that’s part of the fun of it all.

Who needs gels, foam rolling or intervals? Can I recommend jealousy? It’s free and it’s the perfect running fuel.

Beautiful Berries

It was a day for the garden in this neck of the woods. Nothing too strenous, mind. Just plucking pounds and pounds of berries.

Yes, the Chook House garden has the most amazing crop of blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries, this year. The elderflower isn’t such an odd fellow in the whole mix as I tied up a bunch of them in muslin and cooked them up with the blackcurrants.

There’s a mighty good bunch of blooms on the elder tree too, so I’m thinking that this might be the year that I finally get around to making elderberry wine. Teen Son is very keen to help…

Pots of blackcurrant and gooseberry jam are stowed away now, ready to unleash their plump sweetness in the depths of winter. Redcurrant jam or jelly to follow.

Meanwhile, I am high on vitamins having stuffed myself with berries today. And high on a parkrun time which saw me, by dint of clever planning and race strategy, beating last week’s time….by twenty five seconds!

Hmmmm, maybe I should just stick to gardening and jam making….

Juneathon 28 Mileage: 3.2
Juneathon Total:82.02

Running in the Rain

Rain, rain go away...

Rain, rain go away…

Sunday is meant to be Long Slow Run day. These days, the long part has shrivelled back to a not-so-long seven or eight miles. But the pace is definitely meditative.

Last Sunday, however, was an exception.

Between one thing and another- actually, one teen and another -I ended up going from pillar to post all day. It wasn`t until late evening that I finally got around to donning my gear and heading for my run. And discovered that the grand, clear, crisp day had morphed into a monsoon monster.

I`m a chicken when it comes to water.(Well, obviously…) But I know that if I miss my Sunday run, it knocks off my weekly mileage. And I also knew I`d little enough time all this week to squeeze in a run. I simply had to go.

Anyway, who can afford to live in this darned little wet island of ours and be picky about the weather?

Phew! All that that reasoning at least got me out the door.

I knew a meditative, medium length run was out of the question though, in negotiating my way out the door, I agreed to stick to my regular three mile route.

The rain was of the interminable sort.  I don`t wear raingear as it`s way too warm for me. So, being soaked to the skin was a given.

That`s not the worst part of rain runs though, it`s the whole gloom of the thing that gets me, the relentlessness of it all. Seeing pools of light, through needles of rain is one of my least favourite sights.

I just wanted the whole darn business done as swiftly as possible. So I ran like a hen out of hell.

Three thoughts on running in the rain….

  • Remember those Michael Mosley inspired intervals I`ve been working on since last August? I have finally realised I need to incorporate that kind of speed into my regular runs too. Get used to making short fast bursts. I certainly did that on Sunday. I need to do more of it.
  • Running in the rain actually suits me because it`s just the whip I need to make me really run.
  • All of us runners are friendlier in the rain. I only met two. But we greeted each other with bigger waves, warmer smiles. It was as if we were saying

“Aren`t we the mad eedjits to be out in this?”

Basking with my blogging buddies after the post run shower, I came across this wonderful article about how to improve your parkrun personal best. Oh, there`s lots of goodies in there and it applies to anyone trying to improve any of their short distance races, not just parkrun.

But one point stuck out at me.

When it hurts a lot keep running AT THAT PACE. When it hurts more, again KEEP RUNNING at that pace

I don`t do pain, and I don`t do rain. But to see any improvements, I have to do both.

Okay,rain gods….Bring It On!


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