parkrunday: Blyth Links #189

I was a little nervous about this one.

It was a PB attempt and I hadn’t attempted an overall PB in some time (my overall PB as it stood was three months old and also set at Blyth). It was meant to be a PB attempt for both me and Geth, but he’s been injured the last couple of weeks and so he just did a walk for one lap.

I wanted a sub-24, my existing PB being 24:05. It was pacer week, but I didn’t make a decision in advance about whether to use the 24 pacer, as parkrun pacers don’t always pace steadily. However, the pacer on the day was doing a really good job, so I decided to sit on his heels for a while and see how it went.

parkrun
Sticking like glue! Photo from Blyth Links parkrun Facebook page.

The conditions were great (it had been really windy last time we were there, which is always a risk with coastal parkruns) and I actually found the pace really comfortable. I was tempted to step it up a gear to see how fast I could go, but decided to play it safe and stick with the pacer.

This meant that I had a really steady and comfortable run and plenty of energy for a sprint finish at the end. I finished in 23:43, feeling like I could do it even faster in the future. A really positive run!

parkrun
New PB glow 🙂

A bit of pre-race volunteering this next week, and then some exploration later in July.

parkrundays: Troon #274 and Rising Sun #334

I did a bit of ‘proper’ parkrun tourism the Saturday before last! It was the Cowfest tourist gathering in Troon and I had never been to one before. I wouldn’t travel that far on my own just for a parkrun, and indeed have never travelled further than my local area just for a parkrun (I always combine my touring with trips that I’d be doing anyway), but there was a coach trip being organised from northeast England… so I thought I’d go along and see what it was all about!

I had to be up in the middle of the night to be ready for my booked taxi to the coach pickup point! I thought the taxi driver would find my explanation for the early taxi to be a bit odd but he’d dealt with parkrun tourists before (usually people getting early flights to Ireland).

parkrun
The cow had travelled from northeast England on the coach too!

It was a long old coach trip (leaving Newcastle at 4:30am) but seeing the seaside at Troon was a lovely feeling. We had a bit of time to get our bearings and take pictures before the briefing, and soon we were off for a lovely flat and fast course along the front. Love a seaside parkrun.

parkrun

Following the obligatory cake, I joined friends for a bit of an explore of the cafes and pubs of Troon (and saw a pipe band!) before heading back to the coach for another few hours of trying not to fall asleep.

Troon

Unfortunately I was a bit unwell for a few days after Troon, so I probably wouldn’t do such a long coach trip in one day again. Would love to do some shorter trips though – it’s a nice way to see different places and make friends.

I was much more local this last weekend! Geth and I had planned to go away, but as I hadn’t been well we decided to stay home. As such, it was an easy run around Rising Sun, practising my 30 minute pacing for when I next do it at Town Moor.

parkrun
More familiar environs.

Feeling better now, so planning a PB attempt this next weekend… fingers crossed!

Race Recap: Blaydon Race 2024

On 9th June, I was back at this atmospheric race for another year!

Bit of a stressful start due to the unreliability of the Tyne and Wear Metro – two cancelled trains and one delayed one meant that it was a sprint from Central Station to the Gateshead end of the Millennium Bridge to make the bag drop on time. A warmup, certainly… but far from an ideal one!

Blaydon Race
Pre-race. Photo from TMBR.

This was followed by a good hour of hanging about before the race start, but there were lots of friends to chat to and the time passed quite smoothly. We were away not too long after the scheduled start (I’ve seen much worse delays at Blaydon) and it was time to focus on keeping pace. My aim was to take a full 10 minutes off my time from the previous year, which was feasible based on recent performances.

I didn’t feel as sharp as I would have liked during the race – I think this is partly that I’m just not an evening runner and always find it a bit of a struggle that late in the day. I really did feel like I was flagging towards the end and didn’t have any energy left to speed up. Sadly, I just missed out on my ‘full 10 minutes off’ goal by 12 seconds 🙁 but 9 minutes and 48 seconds off is still pretty good!

Blaydon Race
Post-race celebrations! Photo from TMBR.

I think it’ll be my last Blaydon for a while (unless the FOMO gets to be too much around entry time next year) as I’d like to come back to it in a few years with (hopefully) renewed appreciation.

Onto the last race of the summer speed training block next…

Race Recap: Sunderland 10k 2024

A week after the Newcastle-Gateshead 10k, on 12th May, I was racing again – in Sunderland this time. This is the second year in a row I’ve doubled up on these 10ks and I almost certainly won’t be doing it again next year. My spring 2025 A race will be the Edinburgh Half Marathon at the end of May and so I’ll be trying to avoid filling up my training block with too many fast 10k efforts!

It was a nice morning out as I was travelling to and from the race with several other Benchies on the Metro. I always like Sunderland as I always get a PB there – it does have a few small hills but I find it to be a fast course with a good start and not too much congestion once you get into it.

As this is an Events of the North race, Steve Cram is the race director, and just wanders around in his hi-vis doing all the normal race director stuff on the day. Runners unfamiliar with the race are often a bit taken aback by this and a bit starstruck – you hear a lot of audible gasps of recognition when he comes down to lead the runners out to the start line!

We started relatively close to the front and I was able to get away in a fairly speedy manner on the heels of the fast laddies. My first couple of miles were too fast – 7:20ish min mile pace – and I ended up doing a 5k PB at the halfway split, which is never a good thing in a 10k! I faded pretty hard but held on as much as I could for the second half, managing to get over the line in 48:57 official time. (My watch said 49:03 and I thought ‘ahhh, next time’… but then I got the results text a few seconds later!) That’s a 37-second PB following the North Tyneside 10k in March, so I was really happy!

Sunderland 10k
Club photo at the finish.

I have two more races during this training block – the 5.8-mile Blaydon Race (tomorrow as of this writing!) and the Great North 10k in early July. I’ll give them my best shot (in particular, Sunderland has given me the confidence to go for it and try and take a full 10 minutes off my Blaydon time from last year), but even if I don’t get another PB at the GN10k, I think I can still be pretty happy with a sub-49 for this season. We’ll see what happens.

parkrunday: Town Moor #626

I did decide to pace after all this last weekend. I’d had a few weeks with lots of races and other hard efforts, and so I thought it was probably best to take it easy for once.

I asked to be the 30 minute pacer as I’d managed that really well last time and knew the pace I needed to stick to. I don’t think I was quite as steady as the previous time I’d done it, but I still came in very consistently at 29:57.

More volunteering this next weekend as I’ve got another race coming up!

Race Recap: Newcastle-Gateshead 10k 2024

I first ran this 10k last year, when it was part of the ‘Gateshead Half Marathon and 10k’. This year a full marathon distance was added, so the event is now the ‘Newcastle-Gateshead Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k’ as a substantial chunk of the course is now run on the Newcastle side of the river. It took place on 5th May this year (it’s taken me a while to do the blog – May was a really hectic month!).

I knew various other people doing the 10k, half and full distances – including a few Benchies who were running their very first marathon – so I knew it would be a good day out!

After greeting some of said Benchies at the start area at Gateshead Stadium, I waited for the marathon start to clear and made my way to (relatively) near the front for the half/10k start. I had an A goal of a PB (following my 49:34 at North Tyneside in March) and a B goal of a consistent sub-50. I was still feeling fairly slow and sluggish at this point – I had only run Manchester Marathon three weeks beforehand – but I thought I’d give it my best shot and see where I was. This was the first of four races during my spring/summer 10k season so I would have a few more opportunities.

I went off as fast as I could out of the stadium and down the hills, settling into a steady-feeling pace. I managed to stay at a consistent-feeling effort for most of the route, and my pace did remain fairly steady, but keeping up with my back-and-forth with the 50 minute pacer was getting noticeably harder. Nevertheless, every mile was under 8 minute mile pace… until the last one, when you have to climb up all those hills you sprinted down during the first mile! I wasn’t quite able to stick with the pacer up those hills, and couldn’t pick up enough of a sprint on the track when back in the stadium to catch her. I finished in 50:17, so didn’t quite hit my B goal. Still fairly consistent though, and I was pleased to manage this kind of effort for the first time since the marathon, so I can’t complain.

Newcastle-Gateshead 10k
Finished! And knackered 😀 Photo from Runthrough.

The rest of the day was really fun, watching friends finish their races and cheering in those who were doing the marathon! It was a good day out and a great atmosphere at the stadium, and I might go along next year even though I’m not planning on taking part.

Newcastle-Gateshead run event
Party time! Photo from Wasif at TMBR.

Onto another 10k the following week… blog coming soon.

parkrundays: Faskally Forest #138 and Denton Dene #47

Another parkrun catchup post.

Geth and I were in Scotland for a stag do the weekend before last. The parkrun spread north of the Central Belt is a bit sparse, so it was a good hour’s drive to the nearest event from the village where we were staying! Faskally Forest had been on my bucket list for some time, though, so I was glad to have the opportunity.

parkrun

It did not disappoint. It was a beautiful sunny and warm morning, perfect for a run through the forest. The hilly, traily course was a bit of a toughie and I just sneaked in under 30 minutes – but it’s the gorgeous scenery that is the real star of this parkrun. If you have the chance to do this one, don’t miss it.

This last weekend we were back home in Newcastle and returned to Denton Dene for a second time, first having run it eight months ago. Eight months is a long time and I have improved enough to take a good minute and a half off my course PB, so I can’t complain! Eight months was also enough time for Geth to forget the route and go slightly wrong at one point. We’ll make sure to go again a few times this summer so as to refamiliarise ourselves with the course.

A few Benchies and other friends were out west with us, so it was a good morning.

parkrun

Back to Town Moor for pacer week this next weekend. Haven’t decided yet whether I’m pacing or chasing a pacer though…

parkrundays: Town Moor #622 and Jesmond Dene #158

Quick parkrunday catchup. The last couple of weeks I’ve been volunteering at parkrun due to Sunday races (race blogs to follow next week hopefully).

A week and a half ago I was at Town Moor. It was Star Wars Day, the day before the Newcastle-Gateshead Marathon/Half Marathon/10k, and also my friend Claire’s 250th parkrun – so a lively atmosphere all round! I was pacing 30 minutes, which feels very easy for me now and didn’t tax the legs too much before my 10k the next day. I was bang on by my watch and 29:59 by result, which is the closest I’ve ever been as a pacer, so really pleased.

parkrun
Photo by Ian Harman.

This last weekend I was funnel managing at Jesmond Dene (or rather number checking, as they have now split the role – the ‘funnel manager’ used to do both). This is a busy role that I really enjoy and the parkrun hour always flies by. It did help that the weather was absolutely beautiful this weekend – perhaps might have been a bit warm for a fast run on Saturday! No photo as I was busy.

A little further afield this next weekend.