parkrundays: Town Moor #611 and Rising Sun #317

Catching up with the last couple of weeks…

I didn’t think I’d manage to keep the course PB streak going at Town Moor a week and a half ago, as I’d done an 18-miler on the Thursday and I was still feeling it in my legs. But somehow I pulled it out of the bag again! 24:25 – not just a course PB but also an all-time PB. Lovely to share the PB celebrations with my friend Clare as well, who hit sub-26 for the first time.

Town Moor parkrun
Ringing the PB bell! Photo by Clare at TMBR.

I then went to Rising Sun this last Saturday. They have developed an impressive muddy puddle along the path on mile two and appear to be quite proud of it! Trail shoes pretty much obligatory at this event during the winter, but despite the puddles, I managed course PB number 13 in a row, taking 44 seconds off my time from four weeks previously – 25:18.

Rising Sun parkrun
Puddle splashing! Photo from Rising Sun parkrun Facebook page.

I will be celebrating a double milestone at Town Moor this weekend – 200th parkrun overall, 100th Town Moor parkrun – and dedicating it to someone we lost over on FetchEveryone this week, who was always hugely supportive and encouraging during my bad days with my spondylitis.

I might run a 14th course PB in a row and I might not – but, whatever happens, I will be deliberately breaking the streak the following week by going to a parkrun I’ve not done before (you don’t get a PB in the results if it’s your first time at an event), because maintaining it every week is starting to get a bit stressful – especially now I’m into the sharp end of marathon training. Looking forward to a bit of touring 🙂

Phone Box Thursday: A493, Cwrt

We’re in the next village over from last week’s phone box.

Red phone box
Red phone box, A493, Cwrt, 18th September 2023.

(Coordinates 52°58’34.2″N, 3°93’67.3″W.)

This phone box pulls double duty. Not only is it now a defibrillator box for the community, it also acts as a veg stall! The fresh veg is available to take and there’s an honesty box where you insert your payment. A lovely modern reuse and one I’ve not seen before.

Race Recap: Valentine Half Marathon 2024

Roughly this time last year, I had an absolute nightmare race at the Winter Warmer Half Marathon on the Town Moor. It was the last in a series of absolute nightmare races that led me back to the local hospital to request a different treatment for my 2022-diagnosed ankylosing spondylitis, and so I had demons to slay on the Moor. However, I didn’t want to run the Winter Warmer itself this year – it’s a Saturday race and I’m working towards a numerical parkrun nicety that means I can’t miss parkrun until March – so I instead opted for the Run Nation Valentine event, which takes place on the Sunday closest to Valentine’s Day.

I’ve done lapped events held by many different race companies on the Moor (as well as both the old and new courses of Town Moor parkrun, obviously) and it never fails to amuse me how many different routes can be invented to run exactly 5k on the Moor! Half marathons are always four laps plus a weird extra bit. Today’s route was similar to the old pre-COVID parkrun course, but not identical.

Having greeted the friends doing the event (plus the Benchies who came to wish us good luck at the start towards the end of their Sunday run), then shivered on the start line for a while during the ten-minute delay, we were off. I started at roughly nine-minute mile pace, which felt comfortable-ish; I decided to hold it for as long as possible, but expected I would slow by the second half if not before. I knew sub-2 was a possibility (my existing PB was 2:14:52, set at the GNR last September, but I’ve improved a lot in the intervening five months), but would have been happy with a PB of any stripe given that today wasn’t an A race.

Most of my mile splits ended up about 8:50ish. I felt strong, but for some reason couldn’t face fuel or water and so didn’t eat or drink for the whole race (this is something that I think is specific to long distances at race pace, and so I really need to solve it before the marathon itself). I only really started to slow in the last three or four miles, and not by much, going down to about 9:20 minute miles. 11 miles in, I finally allowed myself to do the maths. Sub-2 was on… if I stayed strong, and if (big if!) my watch wasn’t measuring the course too short.

I rallied in mile 12 for a 9 minute mile split, giving me 11 and a half minutes to finish the final 1 point something miles. I still had no idea how big the ‘something’ was going to be by my watch, so I didn’t know how close it was going to be! I pushed hard again for mile 13, but the split came in at 9:20 again, and though I could see the finish line, it still looked a very long way away… so I had to give it everything I had left for the last few hundred yards, still not sure if I was going to be able to hit that magic number. Geth was waiting near the finish and ran in with me, but I hardly knew where I was at that point.

I finished in 1:59:31. I am a sub-2 half marathoner. There were so many years when I thought this would NEVER happen, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

I am so happy today.

parkrundays: Leazes #142 and Jesmond Dene #145

Catchup of last weekend and this weekend! No photos as I keep forgetting.

I said last time that I really didn’t expect to continue with the course PBs last weekend at Leazes. I’d already run my second fastest ever parkrun there a fortnight previously, and I was really starting to feel the Thursday long runs from marathon training in my legs, so I was sure the streak was over. But I was wrong – and somehow I managed another big all-time PB! 24:32 – 39 seconds off my 25:11 at Town Moor in early January. The course PB streak survives… 11 and counting now. We’ll see what happens next weekend.

Yesterday, though, I took a break from the running and volunteered at Jesmond Dene instead. Timekeeping for the first time in ages, which was nice – and thankfully the rain held off, unlike during the rest of this weekend!

Back to Town Moor next week.