parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #108

A rare occasion actually running Jesmond Dene… and so of course I decided it was a good idea to try and break my course PB from October 2019.

Geth was pacing me as he’s still not ready to run parkruns at full pelt yet. GPS is a bit dodgy in the Dene so he was going on feel for the first half, which meant we ran a bit hard up the hills and it took me the whole first lap round the park to recover! Thankfully we still had a bit of a buffer by the time we got to the final downhill section.

Previous Jesmond Dene PB: 33:11. New Jesmond Dene PB: 32:58, just dipping under 33 thanks to a sprint finish pulled from someplace unknown.


They do say those hills add a few minutes so hopefully it’s all good news for the ‘return to sub-30’ attempt on a flatter course in a fortnight’s time.

Phone Box Thursday: Map Procrastination

One of the hobby projects I planned to do after I finished TechUP last year was to create an interactive map of all my phone box finds to share online. I planned to do it last summer, and then things kept getting in the way (mostly game-making). However, I did start learning JavaScript on Codecademy in the hope I’d know enough to make something simple by now… but I don’t yet, unfortunately! JavaScript learning has been steady but slow and I think I need to find some more specific online tutorials if I’m going to have a go at actual personal projects.

I have very nearly collated all the location coordinates for my collection, though – just 25 more to find on Street View. I won’t do revisit posts for those ones as I would quite like to start work on the map if I can find a way to do it. One of the projects for this summer… maybe?

In the meantime, here’s a video I made about my map plans (and phone boxes in general) as part of my TechUP coursework last year. It’s a bit out-of-date as I was fairly over-ambitious (and I keep changing my mind about what I want to do with my TechUP qualification), but I’ll post it here for posterity and hopefully will have some more updates to join it soon!

parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #107

Back to Jesmond Dene for a bit of timekeeping today! No photo as I was preoccupied with clicking people over the line. It feels like it’s gradually starting to get a bit busier as the summer approaches.

I might actually run it next week. I’m starting to forget what it’s like!

Phone Box Thursday: Durham Revisit

This is the third post about this phone box instance in Durham, but there’s been a bit of a change!

Red phone box

In my last post about this location, I mentioned that I would like to go back and take another photo, as the one I had taken in 2016 was really blurry. I finally returned a couple of weeks ago, en route to a race in Durham… but the one-time phone box duo had become a single! I wonder what state the other one must have been in that it had to be taken away…

The remaining box still has a phone in, at least!

Race Review: Sunderland 10k 2023

A few moments of déjà vu between Sunday’s race and the weekend before!

Just like the previous week, I got on the Metro to meet folks from TMBR en route to the race (thankfully half an hour later than the week before due to a later start time). We had plenty of time in Sunderland to drop bags and get ready, which also meant plenty of time to be nervous. I said last week that I’d like to shave a few seconds off the big PB I set at Gateshead, as Sunderland is the fastest 10k course I know. However, I wasn’t sure I could do it two weeks running. It felt like a big ask.

I went off far too fast. No pacers to judge by this time and my first couple of miles were closer to nine minute mile pace than ten. It was fairly congested at the start and quite difficult not to be swept along with the crowd. I settled a bit by mile three but was through the 5k marker in about 29 and a half minutes – something I really wish I could replicate at parkrun at the moment!

I did suffer for it a bit in the second half but just about managed to cling on, though I did get overtaken by the legendary Deano, who runs these things with a wheelie bin strapped to his back, with about a mile and a half to go. One day I’ll be faster than the bin! But not yet. The last mile did feel like a long one and it was a bit touch and go, but I finished in 1:02:41 – a 16-second PB following the previous week’s 1:02:57, and a 2-minute course PB exactly. My watch didn’t think it was quite as fast a 10k though – I think Gateshead measures a bit longer than Sunderland!

Sunderland 10k
While I was last out of the four Benchies present, it was only by less than a minute. I am so grateful not to be finishing ages after everyone else anymore.

After three Sundays racing on the bounce I am ready for a break (and possibly the odd weekend lie-in), but I am so, so happy with the way the last few 10ks have gone. The next target is 59:59 at the Great North 10k in July. I’ve wanted a sub-hour 10k for the whole eight years I’ve been running but it’s never really felt feasible until now. Geth is going to pace me. I am hopeful.

parkrunday: Town Moor #580

Exciting one this morning as it was our club volunteer day. About 20 of us were volunteering at Town Moor, many as pacers because it was also pacer week. I’m not brave enough to pace (largely as I don’t trust my sporadic back issues) so I was on the funnel instead. I’ve done funnel managing at Jesmond Dene before but it’s quite a different role at Town Moor due to the difference in parkrun size.

TMBR parkrun volunteering
A few Benchies missing from the photo but at least a few cows in the background! Photo from Clare at TMBR, taken by Geth.

Town Moor broke their post-hiatus attendance record last week with 603, as Leazes was off. Surprisingly, they broke it again with 607 today. Maybe it was the nice weather?

The cows were very interested today. They even attended the pre-run briefing (and kept quiet, which is more than you can say for a lot of the humans!).

I have missed Town Moor – I’ve not been there since last Christmas Eve – but it always feels like you’ve never been away.

Back to my usual haunts in Jesmond Dene next week.

Race Review: Gateshead 10k 2023

It’s taken me a few days to process this one!

The Gateshead Half Marathon and 10k has been going for two or three years now, I believe. Slightly confusingly, people round here often used to refer to the Great North 10k as the ‘Gateshead 10k’ – and the RunThrough-organised Gateshead 10k does follow a fairly similar route to the old Great North 10k route, starting and ending in Gateshead Stadium. It’s two laps and an extra bit for the half, but as I’m doing a lot of races on the bounce at the moment, I decided one lap was more than enough for me!

There were quite a few TMBR clubmates doing the half, so I was able to meet up with people en route to the race and hang out in the stadium beforehand. Braving the rain, we were off, along the track and out onto the road.

I wanted a PB. My existing PB was 1:04:41, set at the Sunderland 10k in 2021. I had come close with a 1:05:07 at the North Tyneside 10k three weeks ago, and that’s a tougher course by all accounts so I was hopeful. The strategy was to semi-chase the one-hour pacer for a while and then just try to hang onto the pace.

The elevation was roughly one mile downhill, four miles flattish, one mile uphill. I did manage to keep the pacer in sight for some time, and was also able to try and keep up with some half marathoning friends every now and again. The worst bit was actually when we crossed into Newcastle for an out-and-back that felt like it lasted forever! Back on the Gateshead side, around about mile five, there were some more TMBR folks (Benchies) out supporting as part of their Sunday social, which was a huge mental boost.

The final mile uphill was really tough, and every corner felt like it should be the turn into the stadium but wasn’t yet! But finally I was back on the flat track. Between the rain and the crowds I couldn’t see exactly where the finish line was, and so I mistimed my sprint, but to be honest I didn’t have much of a sprint left in me. I finished in 1:02:57 – a 1 minute 44 second PB! I am gradually starting to believe that sub-hour is possible this year. I have another 10k this weekend, in Sunderland – and I’ve always found Sunderland to be a fast course so it’d be great if I could shave a few more seconds off. We’ll see!

PB bell
All bundled up against the cold post-race and looking a bit anxious about ringing the PB bell, which felt like it might topple over if you tugged it too hard! Thanks to Clare at TMBR for the photo.

I really loved Gateshead 10k – well organised, great post-race experience and I do like finishing in a stadium. I will 100% be back next year – especially as they’ve just announced an extra distance, the Newcastle-Gateshead Marathon, which will be three laps of an extended version of the course! I won’t be doing the marathon next year as I’ve already got Manchester booked, but I am thrilled we’re going to have a marathon taking place in the centre of town here and am really looking forward to the atmosphere already. I’ll probably sneak in for the 10k again seeing as I enjoyed it so much this year!